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Next steps after taking a BMAT practice test
So, you’ve just completed a BMAT practice test? Congratulations! Taking practice tests is a critical part of your preparation for test day, so you should feel proud of yourself. This is a tough exam with an intense two-hour format, so practising the full test is great to help you build stamina. Simply finishing the paper, however, is only half the deal; in order to get real benefits from doing practice tests, it is essential to carry out a thorough review soon after taking each one. Having so many papers available online is undeniably fantastic as a preparation resource, but it creates the temptation to try and rush through to complete all of them. It will be far more efficient to take your time, so you are able to identify both areas of strength and ways you can improve. This blog post will take you through some of our top tips to get the most out of each paper you sit.
Step 1: Reflect on how it went
Firstly, check in with how you feel that went. Take some time to consider what went well and what you found tricky before getting stuck into the mark scheme and worrying about what score you got. Ask yourself: how well did you manage your time? Were you able to maintain concentration? If not, why not? Think about your environment: did anything distract you; did you have realistic exam conditions? Being aware of factors that can impact your attention and working out how you focus best is vital to be ready for test day.
Step 2: Get hold of the answers and explanations
Next, it is time to carefully go through the answers for sections 1 and 2. You’ll find these either on your online study plan if you have taken a Kaplan test, or the BMAT website if not, and be sure to use the answer key with explained answers if they are available. Reading through these thoroughly should help you to make sure that you got correct answers for the right reasons, and also fully understand how and why you got questions wrong. Making mistakes at this stage is not only expected, it’s important! It means that come test day, when you are faced with similar questions, you’ll be ready to dodge any answer traps or common errors.
Step 3: Review your weak points
As well as marking the answers right or wrong, use the answers and explanations to make thorough notes on any mistakes you made so that you can review these before taking another test. This written record will ensure you cover everything in your revision and will ease any worries you might have about forgetting bits. Think about which sections felt easier and which science topics or question types you found particularly challenging and write these down too. Don’t allow yourself to get disheartened if some bits went wrong; practice is an important step on the journey to being ready for test day and no matter how well it went it will be a useful learning experience. Allow the test to show you the tough sections so that you can focus your revision on these over the next few days. Simply reviewing the areas you find easy won’t help you to improve; it is important to step outside your comfort zone and address your areas of weakness in order to really improve on your exam performance.
Step 4: Review your essay
The BMAT, unlike the UCAT, presents an additional challenge of essay writing in section 3, and it’s equally as important to review this as it is to mark the multiple-choice questions. Read through your essay as objectively as possible and annotate both the highlights and weak areas of the content. Careful proofreading is essential here: check how well your essay flows and look closely for any spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. Now, review the BMAT section 3 marking criteria (you’ll find this on the BMAT website or in your Kaplan books) and use the notes you’ve made to give yourself a score. If you’re a Kaplan student, and have an online study plan, be sure to submit your essay to one of our Kaplan markers.
Step 5: Do it all over again until you’ve reached your peak!
By now, your test will be marked and you’ll know where your areas of strength and weakness are. Now turn your attention to the next test: what do you want to do better next time? Setting yourself mini, achievable goals is a great way to keep up your confidence and motivation all the way through to test day. Although practice papers are undoubtedly a fantastic revision aid, it is important not to attempt to cram too many in. Don’t schedule your next test too soon: allow a couple of days to work on the areas you identified in this attempt.
Following these steps after each and every practice test will allow you to track how you are improving and should help to boost your confidence throughout your test prep. If your performance does start to plateau, however, don’t panic! This is a perfectly normal phenomenon while learning new skills. At this stage in particular, it is even more important to keep your goals and revision plan in focus. Don’t lose track of what all this preparation and work is for: it is this determination that will make you a great doctor in the future!