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Past papers are the main means of preparation for the BMAT. Getting to grips with the nuances of each section and perfecting your writing technique is also critical.
We recommend going through BMAT past papers in a strategic and informed way as part of your BMAT preparation.
NOTE: BMAT will take place on 18 October 2023 and will be a pen-and-paper test.
You can find all the papers from 2003 on the official BMAT website.
Not ready for a full past paper? Check out our free BMAT Section 1 practice questions and BMAT Section 2 practice questions with expert guidance to help you navigate each section
Familiarise yourself with the style of questions and exam format
There are a range of different question types in the BMAT, which could differ from what you’ve learnt at school. Doing past papers familiarises you with the style of the questions and their relative difficulty.
Having a solid understanding of the style of questions and the answer format means that you won’t have any nasty surprises on test day.
An example of this is the answer paper for Section 3. You don’t get extra paper and your answer space is very small. Practising with past papers can help you overcome this.
Get to know all three BMAT sections
Doing past papers helps you learn the nuances of each section.
Simulate the BMAT
The BMAT is a two-hour long exam. It’s difficult to focus continuously during this time if you haven’t done it before. Every BMAT question requires the same amount of focus as the last.
Past papers give you an opportunity to simulate test day conditions and build your stamina so that a challenging two-hour exam won’t tire you out, once you’re ready.
Master BMAT timing
Timing can be tough in the BMAT. It’s important that you're comfortable with the timing so that you have the best chance of finishing the paper. Doing past papers will allow you to get used to the time constraints of the exam and try out different time management strategies.
Note: If you have a disability or a special requirement, you may be eligible for extra timing. Contact your test centre about access arrangements.
1. As a diagnostic
You should do one past paper at the very start of your preparation. This will help you find out your strengths and weaknesses. Once you do the diagnostic, you can use the results to focus your revision on the topics you’re struggling with the most. Giving all sections equal weighting during preparation will waste your time.
You should do the most recent paper as your diagnostic as it will most closely reflect the style and content of the paper you’ll do.
2. Answer individual questions
Use past papers to practise the specific topics that you’re struggling with. Initially, focus on consolidating your understanding of the topic by doing the individual questions without time constraints. For this, use older papers as you’ll be able to save the newer papers for later.
Once you can get the majority of questions correct untimed, you will become confident in your understanding of the topic. You can now focus on doing a group of questions under timed conditions. This will develop your stamina.
To further build your stamina, try past papers focusing on one section only.
For example, you could sit Section 1 of the 2015 paper on Monday and then Section 2 on Tuesday and then Section 3 on Wednesday. This is an opportunity for you to increase your concentration span.
You can also sit mini-tests to iron out any practical issues of doing a whole section. For example, you might realise that you’re struggling to keep all your workings on one page, or that you’re taking up more than one page in the writing task. Regularly sitting mini-tests will give you an opportunity to sort out any long-term issues.
Mini-tests allow for BMAT strategies like triaging i.e. solving the easier questions first and coming back to the more challenging ones.
Marking your paper can be hugely rewarding and motivating, as it gives you the chance to see what you did well. This will be an indication that you no longer need to focus on this area as much, so upgrade your revision plan as you go.
All BMAT past papers come with a mark scheme, but there are no worked solutions (with the exception of the 2014 paper). You’ll only know whether your answer is right or wrong, not why it’s right or wrong.
Learn how the BMAT is scored
Read our article on how each BMAT section is scored and what a good score is. It's important to know what success looks like.
Write down what you get wrong
Make a list of the topics you get wrong each time you do past papers to see if there are any topics you’re consistently getting wrong. You’ll then know to focus heavily on that area.
Analyse your essay
Analyse your essay sentence by sentence to see how you could make each sentence more concise. You also need to check if your writing is coherent and makes sense. Getting other people like your parents, English teachers, or friends to read your work is a great idea too.
For more information and tips for writing your essay, read BMAT Section 3 tips.
Space out past papers
Space out your past papers so you don’t run out. Take one diagnostic mock at the very start and then do thorough revision on all topics in the BMAT. Start with the topics you are least comfortable with.
Use some of the older papers to practise individual questions and then move on to doing mini-tests and work your way up to doing full mocks. Make sure you do revision and work on your weaker topics in between practice papers.
As with all exams, the BMAT has changed over time. You’ll find that the paper from 2003 is quite different to the paper in 2020. The style and format of questions will change as well as the content.
For example, BMAT Section 1 now has 32 questions instead of 35.
Do the Section 1 practice papers of the TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment). The questions for this section are very similar to actual BMAT. This gives you access to an even wider range of questions.
Section 1 of the BMAT also relates closely to the UCAT, so make sure you read our UCAT and BMAT comparison article.