BMAT Section 2 is essentially the knowledge section of the BMAT exam and focuses on science (including chemistry, biology and physics) and maths. Most of this content is information you would have covered previously at school, with some new information to learn. Saying this, they do state that it is set at GCSE level however this is based on all the different GCSE syllabuses meaning it may be slightly beyond the GCSE content for some students. Don’t worry about this though as there are plenty of resources out there, and some key techniques you can use to prepare.
Section 2 is composed of 27 questions in total, with 7 biology, 7 chemistry, 7 physics and 6 maths questions. Similarly to Section 1, each question is worth 1 mark and you are not penalised if you answer a question incorrectly (ie. there is no negative marking). Calculators are not allowed in the exam.
The BMAT website has a specification that outlines assumed knowledge for this section. This can be found here: https://www.admissionstesting.org/images/535824-bmat-test-specification.pdf . To reiterate, the majority of this should already be familiar but don’t stress if you can’t recall all the information initially! It is common for students to need to refresh their memory a bit by looking through GCSE notes and revision guides as it will have been some time since GCSE exams were taken. There is also likely to be some new content to cover, however, the specification can be used to identify this and hopefully you shouldn’t find this to be too much.
Practice, practice, practice. That is the best way to do well in this section. Of course, revising material that may be covered is important however this alone is insufficient – timing and accuracy are imperative. By timing yourself when completing practice questions, you will be able to gauge how long you should spend on questions and identify whether a question may be worth coming back to. Similarly to Section 1, all the BMAT past papers are available on the website and provide a great resource to give this section a go.
Familiarising yourself with the question content is very useful – this can be through doing past GCSE science and maths questions – as it can help you identify your stronger and weaker areas, and help you tailor which material to revise appropriately. If you still have your GCSE notes they will come in handy for this and may be especially useful for subjects in this section that you do not do at A-level. Practising mental arithmetic (ie. without a calculator) under time pressure will also help you with these questions. This becomes key when using equations. Also note that, for the physics section, you won’t be provided with the equations you need so you will need to re-learn these if you have forgotten them. Another aspect of this section that you must learn is converting between different units. This includes understanding different prefixes and quantities. This is included in the specification containing assumed subject knowledge that is linked above.
In general, focus on areas of weakness. For example, if you do A-level biology and chemistry, focus less on these and more on the other aspects of the section which are more unfamiliar. For memorisation of information such as equations or prefixes, I would recommend active recall methods such as flashcards.
As stated previously, past papers are a great way to familiarise yourself with these questions, but (similarly to Section 1), there are other resources available (many of which are free!). These include:
If you wish, you can purchase BMAT preparation books (to save money I would recommend checking eBay or other similar sites for second-hand copies!) and also subscription to online courses, such as Medify and BMAT Ninja etc., which offer more practice questions and information to help you prepare. In addition to this, there are paid courses, online and in-person, and these often allow you to sign up for a free trial before purchasing.
When thinking about how long to spend revising for this section, the first thing to mention is this will vary between people massively (as with Section 1).
How long you spend on Section 2 depends on numerous things. How much are you able to recall from your GCSEs? Do you do any of the subjects at A-level already? In which case you may wish to spend less time on those parts of Section 2. How fast are you able to work out maths and physics problems?
All of these factors need to be properly considered before assessing how long you should spend on it. Section 2 commonly takes longer to prepare for than Section 1, where you will predominantly spend your time practising exam technique, as there is information to learn (or re-learn) before you are able to practice applying this to questions. But, rather than immediately revising the knowledge for this section, I would recommend practising questions first to gauge your ability to complete this section and identify your weaker areas and go from there. If you are planning on making revision notes for this section it will make the process all the more time consuming so I would strongly recommend using notes from your GCSE exams or just writing notes for the areas/specific questions you find most challenging. As a general tip, ensure you give yourself a few weeks to prepare for section 2, regardless of the considerations above. This should give you time to acclimatise to the timing and style of the exam. Some students may require longer to catch up, but that should be determined by yourself.
This section is often the most challenging for students due to the time pressure of it, and the requirement to re-learn content you didn’t think you’d need! But employing key techniques and making an effective revision plan centred around applying your knowledge to questions can make this section a lot less painful. Good luck!
Author: Chandan Sekhon
Editor: Allegra Wisking