Performing well in the GAMSAT exam is not unattainable, however, it requires a targeted and well-informed approach to preparation. A major downfall for many students that have spent years attempting to improve their GAMSAT score without success is the inability to break down their performance into their component parts that are actually holding them back.
The difficulty to visualize the problems in one’s performance arises from how the GAMSAT is structured. The GAMSAT is attempting to work out how we, as problem-solving individuals, go about finding solutions to problems. In order to do that, the GAMSAT exploits flaws in our thinking abilities, preying on cognitive biases that are obvious, not obvious, or are intrinsically interrelated with many other aspects of our thinking.
It is for this reason that performing well in the GAMSAT is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather requires an iterative process. We believe this iterative process is the best way to prepare for the GAMSAT. We will now take a look into this in further detail.
Before we jump into GAMSAT Exam Preparation Techniques let’s take a look at what we will be discussing in this blog below:
The iterative process of preparation for the Exam respects the need to not become stagnant as we go about our GAMSAT Prep. While at times it may feel like we must find a way that works and then stick to it through and through, this approach very quickly becomes obsolete and drains vital time and resources. The reason for this is due to the GAMSAT inherently testing how well we adapt to ideas that are novel, and how quickly we can respond to a changing environment.
The questions are not constant in background knowledge, style, nor cognitive demands. As such, as we begin to become robotic in preparation for, we begin to refine old tactics, as opposed to challenging our ability to try and execute new tactics at the moment. When we are able to challenge how we think, and not just fix up simple errors, we begin to properly prepare for the GAMSAT.
In the initial planning phase, we must fully comprehend the GAMSAT as an exam and the requirements it is demanding. We will touch on this later in the article in more detail, however for now let us accept that before launching into the GAMSAT preparation process, it is wise to understand the GAMSAT exam in its entirety before considering the intricacies of our approach.
It is through the initial planning stage are we capable of preventing wasted time on an plan of attack that failed to address the core requirements of the GAMSAT. We must begin to appreciate exactly what it means when we say ‘rote learned knowledge is not rewarded’, or ‘problem-solving capabilities are assessed through Item Response Theory’. If we do not fully appreciate these types of statements, then we do not understand the exam well enough to adequately prepare, or generate our preparation approach.
Knowing what skills the GAMSAT aims to test and familiarizing yourself with the GAMSAT sections and topics are of high importance. To view more in depth information in relation to GAMSAT Breakdown view Acers GAMSAT Guide.
After understanding the exam and identifying areas for improvement, we can create our own GAMSAT preparation guide. While a prep course is useful, we must also design tasks to enhance our thinking. Our approach will never be perfect, but each iteration will allow for refinement.
This may include:
This is precisely where we must work with a preparation course if we are doing one, and not against it. We must factor in the classes and resources available to us and develop truly creative, yet impactful, approaches to our pitfalls.
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After outlining our strategy and identifying needs, it's time to execute our plan of attack. Approaches vary based on skills to improve. For instance, we could do 50 mixed physics and biology logical reasoning questions on alternate days or write three GAMSAT Section 2 pieces in unfamiliar formats. Progress might not always feel evident due to GAMSAT's challenging nature, even during effective study periods.
Regular self-assessment, such as micro reflections documented in a GAMSAT question log, helps track successes and areas needing improvement. Recognizing "high yield" methods, even if not immediately evident, is crucial. These reflections should extend beyond question logs, especially when targeting specific question types. Identifying patterns contributing to success and acknowledging concepts that enhance performance are key.
However, before we begin to change our approach for the first time, we need to properly reflect on our first iteration and condense everything we have learnt into something usable. Often, as we prepare for the exam, we think we will remember certain findings about how we think and process information, however these often present as fleeting thoughts that make no impact. We must ensure to give our findings the time of day.
Some key points to improve your global review of GAMSAT Study Preparation
The Global Review phase is more than just a look at our percentage of correct answers. Doing so is the trap countless applicants fall into every application cycle and spend years repeating the GAMSAT without any improvements. Interestingly, such applicants are often the ones that believe you cannot actually study for the GAMSAT, whereas in reality this belief stems from the lack of appreciation for what the GAMSAT truly is, and how to go about improving the thinking styles that the exam is testing.
Essentially, we resume the process with insights from Initial Planning. Armed with more information and clarity, we embark on a more impactful iteration. The duration of each iteration depends on the skill targeted; there's no fixed answer. Iteration duration should be refined iteratively, which is intricate but crucial. To excel in GAMSAT Prep, multiple reflective processes should run concurrently, addressing every weak point.
Remember, the Iterative Process is key, a tool to enhance and tackle obstacles. It's vital to grasp improvement needs. Understanding GAMSAT components and how the Iterative Process aligns is essential
Now that we appreciate the iterative process required to see improvements in the GAMSAT, we can begin to take a look at the types of things we actually need to develop, and how this frames our planning and execution phases. Broadly speaking, there are three major components we must perfect:
1. Background Knowledge
2. Problem Solving Skills,
3. Online Format Practice.
We will now investigate these further. Keep in mind that these components do not replace the iterative process of improvement, but rather are three components that need to be factored into the improvement process. Ideally, we become a master of the following three GAMSAT components through the Iterative Process of Improvement:
The background knowledge we need for the GAMSAT is usually pooled into two different categories of thought, those that believe it is important to solely focus on it and those that think it is redundant. Both trains of thought are incorrect and extremely stifling for a successful GAMSAT performance.
Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions:
Once we have the background knowledge, we must then progress to the stage of developing our logical reasoning skills. As we discussed earlier, it is the cognitive problem solving skills that ACER uses to measure one’s scores for the Sections 1 and 3. As such, we must ensure that we understand the types of skills that are required, and practice/reflect through appropriate practice material.
When considering what we need to improve on, an applicant must reflect on all the ways they imagine problem solving could be tested. In the beginning of the journey, this can be done easily by pooling the types of thinking styles usually associated with the field of interest, such as tone in poems, inference in proverbs, pattern recognition in organic chemistry, and many, many others. Doing so is a valuable way to frame study in the beginning as it ensures our planning and execution phase has been stratified into palatable chunks.
As we continue our iterations, we begin to realise there is much more to the exam than solely the above skills. We begin to notice more and more biases about our thinking that impedes us from thinking logically. For example, we may perform well at interpolation within a transcript stem in a normal setting, yet fail to exercise the skills of interpolation in a transcript stem if it follows a cartoon. This means there is something about the type of thinking called upon within a cartoon question which impacts our ability to exercise the interpolation thereafter. Therein lies a bias we must learn about, understand, reflect upon, and devise/practice ways to overcome it.
It goes without saying that developing the problem solving skills and reflecting to such a high calibre requires resources that are equally at such a high calibre. The more iterations we use to improve, the more we realise it can only be done if we have material that is designed with the strict intention of exploiting flaws in our logical reasoning, just as ACER will do. The very same goes for when we are preparing for the actual exam itself.
The GAMSAT is an Online Exam, which is crucial to address. While we focus on problem-solving skills, they need to be applied in the exam's online context. This involves two main aspects:
Online Exam Structure: Understand the exam's structure and tactics, like managing time, handling 50/50 situations, and addressing skill-specific challenges promptly.
Simulating Exam Experience: Simulate the actual exam environment multiple times to develop crucial skills. Quality practice is essential to identify and address performance difficulties and biases.
Shifting focus, the ability to use problem-solving skills effectively in the GAMSAT Exam is crucial. This goes beyond skill proficiency and delves into identifying biases that hinder performance, like losing focus during specific GAMSAT Practice questions. Quality GAMSAT Preparation and analytics help uncover trends and address biases, enhancing exam readiness through a two-fold approach—mitigating and tackling biases—thanks to the Iterative Process.
No matter how many months we have until the GAMSAT, it never feels like we have enough time. This is because there is no limit to how much we can improve our problem solving skills, if we are indeed going about it the right way. We will now shift our discussion to how we can meaningfully utilise the time we have.
The ideal preparation time for the GAMSAT varies based on each applicant's GAMSAT competence, but a recommended timeframe is 6 -4 months. This period accommodates focused work on all three aspects of GAMSAT Preparation: Background Knowledge, Problem Solving Skills, and GAMSAT Practice Exams. Each component receives around one month of attention, using the Iterative Process of Improvement for steady progress. This timeframe offers flexibility for planning and execution while ensuring dedicated quality preparation.
In some cases, this duration may not be sufficient due to inadequate focus on the right exam elements or a significant gap between starting skill level and target score.
In situations with limited time for GAMSAT preparation, quick and focused action is essential. Even without the recommended 3 months, success is achievable through intense focus. Opt for high-quality GAMSAT materials that comprehensively cover exam components. While some older resources like Des O'Neill might still be valuable, ensure a diverse range of materials that effectively address all exam aspects.
Speed up your learning process by mastering theory swiftly and delving into problem-solving using top-notch GAMSAT Prep Materials. Immediate iterations should target rapid improvement. As you transition to the exam-ready phase, choose materials that mirror the exam format and challenge cognitive biases.
Now that you have an approach to the way you study for GAMSAT, get one of our free question logs for GAMSAT Section 1 or Section 3 so that you can reflect on the types of questions that you need to improve on.
Fraser’s GAMSAT is a tuition company that was founded in 2010, with a focus on changing the way people prepare for GAMSAT and the long-term mentorship of students.