Hi I am interested to apply for Medicine in the next application cycle, thus I intend to sit for the BMAT this November. Since it has been nearly 2 years since I graduated, I would appreciate some help for the BMAT essay. Please give me some comments on my essay since I am not used to writing these types of philosophical essays. Thanks!
Question: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” (Alexander Pope). Explain what this statement means. Argue to the contrary to show that a little learning is not dangerous. To what extent do you think learning can be a dangerous thing?
A little learning can be a dangerous thing when an individual decides to abuse his new-found knowledge. When he has not learnt much and decides to put his limited knowledge to use, it could spell disaster for those around him.
However, a little learning is not always dangerous. In fact, it is usually harmless and beneficial for people. In the 21st century where society is highly competitive in most developed countries, it is essential to have a little knowledge across all fields to maintain one’s competitiveness. Moreover, it would also be helpful in conversing with others to avoid reflecting one’s ignorance.
I believe learning can be a dangerous thing to a small extent since the advantages of learning outweighs its disadvantages more often than not.
Learning is usually good, not dangerous, since it equips us with the knowledge to make better decisions in the future, hence bringing about progress for mankind. It is largely beneficial to strive for improvement in all that we do, including the way we think, the way we act, and the way we talk, among many other aspects. Through learning, we are able to widen our horizons and hence identify existing flaws and inadequacies in our lifestyles, while opening our eyes to fresh new perspectives which might bring about positive change to the world we live in. Furthermore, new knowledge can be useful in helping us avert potential disasters. Modern research has helped scientists understand the global climate change better, and the reasons behind the rising sea levels and increasing global temperature. These pieces of information can be useful in warning scientists of the potentially irreversible damage to Mother Earth and to trigger a change in mankind’s actions to avoid further damage to the planet. Clearly, learning is largely beneficial and not dangerous since it is useful to mankind. In fact, it is useful in protecting us against danger.
However it is important to bear in mind that learning can still be a dangerous thing if the newfound knowledge is used with malicious intent. There are people who abuse the knowledge they have for evil purposes. In the 21st century where terrorism is a global threat, terrorists constantly pursue a more profound understanding of explosives to help them in their antagonistic ambitions. This could spell disaster for the global population since public safety is at stake.
In a nutshell, learning is dangerous to a small extent --- it is largely beneficial and useful. Learning is only dangerous when accompanied by malicious intent. Nonetheless, this should not stop people from pursuing new knowledge since it is essential for mankind’s progress. The individual himself should always bear in mind that knowledge should not be abused.
Hi I can give you the following comments, in parts specifically related to the BMAT context:-
1. Your use of language and command of English appear commendable - you have adopted the application of a range of vocabulary, have used correct grammar and punctuation, and used a good balance of second and third person sentences.
2. The citing of different examples of learning in humanity and the earth has been demonstrated well.
3. One deficiency I note is that there is no specific reference to the relevance of the topic to medicine: two aspects of this feature come to mind:
a) the quotation by Alexander Pope refers to "little learning" rather than just "learning", and here there should, in my opinion, be an emphasis on the fact that knowledge gained in an incomplete manner not only inevitably introduces errors simply out of the required simplification but,
b) in the medical context, which the BMAT is of course intended for, this very fact of limited knowledge can be dangerous. This is evident in instances of errors caused by medical personnel who have inadequate knowledge or experience, but more often by lay members of the public. Very good examples of this are:
i) the thalidomide catastrophe
ii) The misinterpretation by the public (and some medics, including Dr Wakefield) of the "brain damage" allegedly caused by the MMR vaccine, which meant several children suffered the worse consequences of contracting measles.
iii) With the advent of the internet, people trying to treat themselves with a few hours of theoretical "medical training" instead of six years of hands-on clinical training, which is dangerous!
In summary and in general terms, a very good essay technique with the provisos a) read the Q very carefully b) try to relate at least part of it to medicine (if possible).
I hope this helps!
M (former medical student)
BMAT Section 3
The final part of the BMAT exam — BMAT Section 3 — is the writing task. This section is testing your ability to ‘select, develop and organise ideas, and to communicate them in writing concisely and effectively’.
In other words, writing a short essay!
In essence it is testing your ability to formulate your own argument. You could say it is the reverse of Section 1. You are assessed both for content, and the correct use of English. So good grammar, spelling and punctuation are essential.Get your BMAT essays marked by the experts!
BMAT Section 3: The Writing Task
In BMAT Section 3, you are required to write a short essay. This will cover one side of A4. But it can’t be longer. So timing and technique are crucial.
You will be given a choice of four essays. You have to answer one of these only. And you have 30 minutes in which to do so.
Each essay option is based on a short quote or statement. These can be scientific or medically-related, but often aren’t. They are not technical. Examples might include a quote from Voltaire or Charles Darwin.
You will usually be asked, broadly speaking, to explain the statement, argue against it, weigh arguments for it, and reach a conclusion saying to what extent you agree with it.
Many students will no longer be taking essay based subjects. This can lead to a degree of trepidation. However, we have designed a clear and repeatable strategy for success in this section. Read more about that in our BMAT Section 3 Blog.
You can download and print sample answer sheets from the BMAT website to practice writing essays of the correct length in time.
BMAT Preparation: How can I prepare for Section 3?
Watch Daniel’s top tips for BMAT Section 3 here!
Plan essay questions
One of the best ways to start your preparation for BMAT Section 3 is to look at essay questions from past papers. The questions take the form of a short quote or statement – most are scientific or medical.
An example question is: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” (Alexander Pope). Explain what this statement means. Argue to the contrary to show that a little learning is not dangerous. To what extent do you think learning can be a dangerous thing?
A good way to practice this is to get used to looking at these statements and explaining them, in one or two sentences, in your own words, explaining the key terms. Next, start planning your answer in bullet points. BMAT Section 3 questions usually ask you to argue against the statement, so start by planning an ‘against’ list with examples, then list some possible positives. The last part of the question will ask to what extent you agree with the statement – here, you could draw in arguments from both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ list, finally reaching a conclusion.
It’s a good idea to practice this method a few times to familiarise yourself with the process of explaining, arguing, and then reaching a conclusion on a statement. This planning is a key element of BMAT Section 3 preparation, and can be practiced quickly in the exam room to give your essay answer a much more coherent structure. The more you practice forming an argument, the easier (and less daunting!) you will find the process.
Ask others to review your essays
BMAT Section 3 is one of the most difficult sections to mark yourself. One of the best ways of getting an idea of your score is to ask a teacher to review it with their suggestions for improvements. Another idea is to send your essays to us – they are then marked by an expert Medicine Tutor and sent back to you.