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3 min read

The Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Review Methodology

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Written By
Akif Isalm

Reviewing GAMSAT Mock Exams or any sort of content isn’t always the most straightforward thing. So many biases come to the fore and we can equally find ourselves on tangents that are not necessarily useful but, do scratch some sort of psychological itch. Today I want to share with you a method I use to simply review procedures. It involves assessing what’s in your control vs. what’s not in your control and most importantly, the shades of grey in-between.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda is colloquial Aussie slang for “what might have been”. It is, however, not too dissimilar to the Rumsfeld speech, deceptively wise in its demarcation of what we need to do when assessing something. The categories are as follows:


For exams, these questions are ones we could have gotten correct but didn’t for a range of “high level” reasons. These reasons include not recognising what the question was asking, getting scared off by some content and not fully assessing the options, overthinking the question and thus destroying the efficiency etc. Basically, these are ones that we take a lot of value from getting wrong in a Mock Exam. Why? Well, in getting these wrong and having these types of Epiphones we realise to be more open-minded in the future on these types of questions. Worth noting here as well – when I say types I don’t just mean “topics”, I’m also referring to styles, particularly as well as designs. A good example was the optical rotation question from Mock Exam #2 in Section 3 – many students left it or guessed it because of the amount of text in the introduction. If we had have jumped to the questions, however, 3 of them required little/no need for the text and just some common sense.


These are the dumb mistakes. Not realising it was a “not/incorrect/least/except” question, not reading the question properly, or lastly but definitely worst, transposing outside knowledge when the answer was obvious. These questions are completely saveable – we just have to condition ourselves to not make these mistakes. This is one of the virtues of Mock Exams – becoming more aware of the “silly” mistakes so you don’t make them. To that point as well, a great question came in from a student asking how to make sense of “not or except” questions.

Basically, how do you get around the double negatives? Simple – just put “T for true or F for false” beside the option. The odd one will stick out soon enough?


Woulda implies we needed more ability/information to get the question right. These are the ones in our bottom 20% and to some extent, are marks we’re willing to lose. They are, however, fantastic candidates for hacking and using probabilistic guessing so you can get more right than you normally would.

Translating this to your GAMSAT Review:

A nice way to think of this is with the following example. Let’s say for Section 3 you got 48 out of 75. On review, you break down the incorrect marks as follows:

22 shoulda, 29 coulda, 11 woulda.

Assigning 70% to shoulda, 60% to coulda, and 50% to woulda and you have your new “ceiling” score had you been totally focused and executed the exam (86.3). Other variants land you somewhere in between. This shows you that it IS possible to score highly – you just need to apply the learnings (not the theory and not the books for the love of god…).

By doing this we can see that we’re not always as far from a great score as the scores tell us. Some application of strategic tweaks and cranking up the focus can yield great results. And, most importantly, the  Mock Exams can tell us where and how we go about doing this.

We hope you can apply this to your study and for Mocks 3 and 4.

Where To From Here? 

Check out other articles in this series!

What is GAMSAT Section 1?

What is GAMSAT Section 2?

What is GAMSAT Section 3?

For general GAMSAT news and updates, check out the articles below!

What is the GAMSAT?

GAMSAT – Latest News

How Hard is the GAMSAT?

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  2. Section 1: What to Expect & How to Study
  3. Section 2: How to Write High Scoring Essays
  4. Section 3: Tips & Strategy
  5. GAMSAT Scores: How is the GAMSAT scored?