The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is unlike any exam format that you have likely encountered during your academic career. GAMSAT is specially designed to select future doctors who can succinctly demonstrate higher-order thinking skills without succumbing to mental burnout.
Each GAMSAT section is individually demanding, requiring you to interpret diverse humanities stems, write well-thought-out essays, and having extensive understanding of the physical and biological sciences. On the day it almost feels as though you are undertaking three different exams in a single sitting - not something to be taken lightly.
To put it bluntly, NO, you cannot ‘wing’ a psychometric examination like the GAMSAT. And if you come across someone who claims to have aced the GAMSAT without study, then they are either in an extreme minority, or simply not telling you the truth.
To succeed in the GAMSAT, it is important to have year 12 academic knowledge in GAMSAT Physics and university-level knowledge in GAMSAT Chemistry and Biology. Therefore, having little to no prior background in these subjects, or a lack of adequate preparation can significantly diminish your chances of achieving a high GAMSAT score.
The ACER booklet highlights that the new GAMSAT exam will be a 5.25 hour marathon that allocates 21 minutes of total reading time. Now considering the duration of the GAMSAT exam, you require high concentration power which cannot be developed overnight. It is important that your GAMSAT preparation, especially when you tackle the dreaded Section 3 scientific component be tailored around the possible implications you need to overcome during this prolonged testing process.
In reality, when you sit the real GAMSAT exam timing, you need to be familiar with the concept of mainatining your mental stamina as you progress from one section to another, rather than it coming off as a surprise.
What seems rather interesting about GAMSAT is the reason behind this prolonged testing process. In our experience, most students, despite putting in adequate hours into preparation, struggle to beat the GAMSAT burnout. This also points to why the GAMSAT cannot be an on-spot achievement.
The GAMSAT exam timing is solely built on the idea to penalise those students who are often ineffective in time management and cannot handle the mental stress that comes with an intellectually draining GAMSAT. Hence, our GAMSAT tutors advise students to be more proactive in their GAMSAT study and undertake ample diagnostic practice exams and mocks to gain an indepth insight on the possible hurdles they would face across each section. The GAMSAT timing is similar to functioning within a dynamic medical environment where you will undergo immense mental strain but have to maintain a high standard of patient-care.
Building mental endurance is a slow and gradual process that cannot be demonstrated on the day of GAMSAT with ease. You have to engage in activities from an early stage that are potential boosters to your overall mental calibre. Furthermore, you also need to understand your strong and weak points while doing GAMSAT mock exams, as they shed light on factors that interfere with your creative process.
Once again, the simple answer to this question is, no. The GAMSAT syllabus is difficult to comprehend and requires months of learning to make meaningful inroads. A key reason that the GAMSAT topic lists are not exhaustive is because the GAMSAT is such a skills-heavy examination. You cannot expect to do well in the GAMSAT by learning a knowledge-based curriculum at the expense of cultivating a broad range of GAMSAT skills.
With regards to GAMSAT preparation, how you dedicate time to study for it determines your ability to understand the GAMSAT syllabus. Some of you planning to do the GAMSAT have other commitments to fulfill, such as tertiary education, employment, and leisure time. This means that your GAMSAT study timeline should begin at least three months prior to your actual GAMSAT exam so that you can budget what you need to do.
One of our resident GAMSAT experts who tackled the GAMSAT recently designed a study timeline for you to learn from below!
The Fraser’s GAMSAT study timeline takes into account the duration required to strengthen your understanding of the GAMSAT syllabus and, critically to the Fraser’s learning model, ample time for mock GAMSAT examinations in what we call - GAMSAT simulation.
The three months of GAMSAT study we have allocated is not an absolute, but an average study time that is mainly applicable to students from a biomedical background as they have a degree of basic knowledge in the sciences. It is important to organise your study schedule based on your individual circumstances and modify your study habits accordingly. What this may mean for you is that you need to spend a bit longer getting to grips with the fundamentals of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics - or reading and writing.
This is precisely why Fraser's version of the GAMSAT syllabus is highly recommended for your preparation. Not only does our syllabus cover a targeted approach to study Section 1, Section 2, and Section 3, but we also provide the best approaches to these previously mentioned skills needed to succeed.
GAMSAT requires sheer depth and breadth of knowledge in the three core science subjects and good communication skills for essay writing alongside problem-solving abilities for the humanities questions. So, yes, the GAMSAT prep questions are tricky, but definitely not impossible. Students will often try to study by getting their hands on as many questions as they possibly can. However, we would caution against this, as without having direction to your study, it is unlikely that you are making meaningful progress with each question that you attempt.
NOTE: Bear in mind that GAMSAT practice questions are integral to your preparation but are ONE part of your GAMSAT preparation and NOT the only recommended strategy.
Studying for GAMSAT from scratch for some is thought by many to be overwhelming. Particularly if you come from a non-science background, you need to have an extensive study plan that caters to improving the foundational knowledge in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.
Whether it is refining your knowledge in kinetics of chemical reactions or learning mitosis and physiological regulations in the human body, it is not an overnight process. Besides, rote-learning is not a recommended study method for GAMSAT.
You need to understand that GAMSAT practice questions are not the traditional Q&A but are broader in nature with MCQs, long and short stem questions and essay quotes. So if you are juggling other commitments and need to have a focused streak for GAMSAT prep, opting for a GAMSAT study routine similar to a highschool or university timetable is a great place to start.
As stressed earlier, GAMSAT is a grueling psychometric evaluation with GAMSAT Section 1 being a purely interpretative component that takes into consideration your life experiences. It is no surprise that interpretation as a skill is not innate and requires regular attention.
GAMSAT Poetry is often presumed to be complicated but in reality it is quite the opposite! The Poetry chosen for GAMSAT Section 1 is meant to appeal to your common emotions and real-life experiences, making it accessible to people who are not English Literature majors! Although accessible to all, poetry analysis is not black-or-white and requires a nuanced approach to understand the poet’s expression and feeling.
GAMSAT as a whole is challenging and one cannot possibly pin point on a singular aspect that is difficult about the GAMSAT exam. Besides, the difficulty of GAMSAT is peculiar to one and all. What you might find difficult could be relatively easy for another student to achieve.
However, to answer this question fair and square, we believe that GAMSAT Section 3 is likely to be found most challenging by the bulk of students. Firstly, because Section 3 is the longest section with the largest number of question stems. And Secondly, because unlike section 1 and section 2, it does demand that you have a great deal of background knowledge and understanding around the sciences.
All in all, we hope that you have gleaned from this piece that the GAMSAT is something that a few people find impossible, a few people can wing, but over 95% of students willing to apply themselves can get a reasonably competitive score provided that they are pointed in the right direction and do the work.