It’s the second time you’re sitting the GAMSAT you’ve just heard the fateful words of reading time starts now. You open the page and are met with a passage that looks extremely familiar. Was it in the past practice material you studied? No, whilst appearing similar you’re certain it isn’t, what could it be then?
Surely ACER wouldn’t repeat GAMSAT questions on such an important exam?
But they do.
In a Monash study published in 2015. Students were finally provided details about the closely guarded testing process of the GAMSAT. In it was information that detailed that each of Section 1 and Section 3 contains a combination of trial questions that are not marked with just under half the questions every year being new: “Each MCQ exam contains a combination of trial items (not scored), new items (scored for the first time) and old (link) items. Each year just under half of the questions in Sections 1 and 3 are new. All items undergo review to ensure that they are fair and reliable.”
What does this mean for you as a student? It means that you can be sure in every sitting that more than half the questions will be repeated from an exam in the previous yearly cycle. Therefore, if you can have a detailed outline of what question types were on the exam in the past 2 iterations, and study those principles and concepts you can be certain that they will appear in the exam.
Personal experience and comparing mock exam results of students and their own anecdotal recollections and eventual results, we’ve come to the assumption at Frasers that achieving 65-70 questions correct in Section 3 will achieve roughly the same percentage mark. Therefore, it is conceivable that if you prepare yourself for these repeated question types you can achieve a substantial score in the GAMSAT, or ensure that you will be confident with at least half of the exam.
Trial questions have long been spoken about by students. I remember myself having them explained by an older classmate “they’re questions that don’t mean anything, they’re just there to see if they’ll be useful for next years exam.” Whilst crude his explanation was correct. Trial items are questions that are not scored and are likely used for following years exams if they are able to achieve a bell curve that ACER deems separates students in a fair manner.
Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that two sets of these test questions are provided in every exam, that is why after you sit the exam, you often find that half of your friends didn’t see that “really weird question”.
How does this help you when taking the exam? When sitting the GAMSAT you should be aware that if a question seems to be unnecessarily hard and is taking up too much of your time, it could likely be a test question and worth nothing. I remember in one of my GAMSAT sittings spending 20 minutes solving an extremely difficult question and feeling pleased with myself even though I had spent so much time on it. When I came out of the exam to find that only half of my friends had completed the question I was devastated.
Therefore, my advice is, that for all questions in Section1 & Section3 GAMSAT do what ACER suggests: It is advantageous for you to develop your own strategies for answering this type of question. Work steadily through the test. It is not advisable to spend too much time on any one question.
If you think you know the answer to a question, mark it, even if you are not certain. Give yourself an allocated amount of time per question and move on, even if it looks familiar you can’t be sure if the questions are a test question that is being tested for 2 exams and therefore useless. Try to attempt all the questions you can to the best of your ability, and keep in mind that spending too long on any one question can be extremely disadvantageous.
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