The journey of tackling the GAMSAT exam might seem challenging, as it spans a wide range of topics. If you're new to the GAMSAT experience, it's completely normal to feel a bit unsure about where to start your preparation. Many university bookstores and online blogs offer tempting solutions to this problem in the form of GAMSAT books. While these resources can be a real temptation, it's important to note that they vary not only in approach but also in cost. So, let's explore your options and make your GAMSAT preparation journey enjoyable and effective!
The most important point to make in response to this question is this – it does not matter what ‘anyone is doing'. In our blogs, we consistently mention that the GAMSAT is a psychometric exam, meaning that it tests logic, communication, and reasoning. The methods any candidates use to develop these skills can be varied, as long as they are effective and consistent.
Having said this, GAMSAT books are certainly still in circulation. Available for purchase in university bookstores for exorbitant sums of money, or as free online pdf documents, it is clear that many students still believe that these GAMSAT practice books can be beneficial to their study.
In principle, however, the concept of a GAMSAT book is very flawed. Their popularity hinges on a few misconceptions students still harbour about the GAMSAT exam. So, let’s begin by busting some myths:
This used to be the case many, many GAMSAT seasons ago. While the first iterations of the test were heavily weighted towards a technical understanding of biomedical sciences this is no longer the case. Over the past decade, the GAMSAT has moved towards becoming a test of logic and reasoning. While the GAMSAT Section 3 questions are still fundamentally based in first-year university biomedical sciences, this information is generally used to contextualise the question.
Often biomedical science students like to take pride in the excessive quantity of GAMSAT materials they have covered in their preparation. The tactic of doing absolutely every single question, while studying mindlessly for hours on end, is known as ‘resource exhaustion’.
In order to successfully complete the GAMSAT, a candidate needs to consider the different styles of logic that come into play across the different sections. Needless to say, that exam strategy, as well as interactive feedback is also critical in preparing for this gruelling exam. Unfortunately, GAMSAT books have been successful in delivering these necessities to students.
There are many misconceptions about GAMSAT Section 2 that exist among students. Many candidates believe that writing an essay is less systematic, and perhaps less empirical than biomedical science. Often such candidates are drawn to prescriptive, and inflexible writing samples provided in GAMSAT books. Ultimately, as section two is primarily a test of communication, advice that is not tailored to the individual candidate is almost always of little use.
GAMSAT practice books cannot facilitate the discussion of ideas and communication necessary for improvement in section 2. The best they can offer is the author’s second-hand logic – but the problem with a recycled idea or structure is that it never helps you stand out in a crowd!
Any GAMSAT Section 1 tutor at Fraser’s GAMSAT will tell you how frustrating this myth is for staff and students alike! The GAMSAT exam is very consistent in its use of well-respected texts in section 1. The hallmark of great literature, whether it be Section 1 poetry, prose, or Section 1 cartoon, is that it effectively communicates with our common humanity. Shakespeare is not famous because the ideas he communicates are complex. In fact, it is the opposite – behind the Elizabethan language, the stories that the great bard tells are famous because almost everyone can understand and relate to them.
It simply is the case that schools and universities do not teach analysis of humanities as extensively as they do mathematics and science. And the real challenge for many is the limited exposure to analyzing humanities, not the content itself.
GAMSAT isn't a game of chance. It rewards merit and understanding. It cannot be denied that one of the best techniques for improving your GAMSAT score is to sit the GAMSAT exam. Prior experience is an excellent teacher – this is why we at Fraser’s run so many GAMSAT practice exams towards the end of each preparation season.
Once a candidate is familiar with the time-management skills required for the exam and is comfortable with the question format, the performance simply becomes a question of appropriate reasoning.
To begin our discussion of GAMSAT Textbooks, we have to start with the staple seen on the shelf of every single university bookstore. These textbooks make an excellent doorstop, their size is only rivaled by its absurdly high cost. Reflecting on the GAMSAT myths we busted in the previous section of this article, the standard GAMSAT textbooks contain nearly every single shortcoming that we listed.
The GAMSAT exam, known for its rigorous nature, demands a preparation method that evolves with its changing dynamics. Traditional GAMSAT books, once the primary resource for many, have shown their age in recent times.The limitations of traditional GAMSAT Books are:
Traditional books often emphasize memorization over understanding, neglecting the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that the modern GAMSAT demands.
These books offer fixed content that doesn't adapt to individual student needs, potentially leaving gaps in a student's preparation.
Every student has unique strengths and weaknesses, but traditional books offer a one-size-fits-all approach, which may not cater to individual learning needs.
While these books might provide foundational knowledge, they often fall short in equipping students for the holistic demands of the GAMSAT, such as essay writing, critical reasoning, and data interpretation.
The GAMSAT is an ever-evolving examination, continuously adapting to ensure it assesses the most relevant skills and knowledge for future medical professionals. Traditional books, being static in nature, struggle to keep up with these rapid changes.
Fraser's Essentials, a powerful alternative to outdated preparation books, is launched to revolutionize self-study for the GAMSAT.With regularly updated content and cutting-edge Dynamic AI Atlas Technology, the course provides an effective self-preparation experience.
Fraser's Essentials harnesses the power of Dynamic AI Atlas Technology. This state-of-the-art system learns from the user's performance, determining their aptitude in each section's skill domain. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, it provides tailored information most suited to the user, ensuring a personalized and effective learning journey.
The Essentials Package boasts an ever-expanding treasure trove of over 2000 GAMSAT questions, accompanied by hand-picked section 2 prompts. These questions are not just about quantity but quality, refined season by season to ensure they mirror the core GAMSAT principles. This helps improve problem-solving skills and prepares students for the exact style of questions they'll face in the exam.
The Essentials Package includes a rigorous and realistic mock exam designed to test current skills and tactics. This simulation ensures that students are not only knowledgeable but also adept at applying their knowledge under exam conditions.
The Skill Centric Atlas for each section pinpoints and organizes content around essential skills, ensuring that students invest their effort in the right places. This approach ensures a logical flow of information, maximizing absorption of new content and approaches.
Fraser's Essentials stands out in the crowded GAMSAT preparation market due to its innovative approach. While traditional textbooks offer static content, Fraser's Essentials provides a dynamic, evolving learning platform. The integration of AI technology ensures that the content is not just comprehensive but also tailored to each student's unique needs.
To wrap up our discussion of GAMSAT books, we should consider the topic of literature in general – does reading widely have a role in GAMSAT preparation? Reading literature is immersing yourself in the lives and experiences of other people – it makes you a more worldly person while building your communication skills and your vocabulary. There is never a scenario where reading widely is not beneficial to a medical student.
However, reading comprehension is a ‘soft skill’ – what this means is that improving your understanding of texts is a non-linear process. There is no simple correlation between books read and comprehension improvement. It is often important to discuss, think and read many books before the content will have an impact on your skills.
If your question is “will reading 1984 by George Orwell increase my Section 1 score by three points?” – the answer is a resounding no!
If your question is “will reading 1984 by George Orwell improve my vocabulary while exposing me to interesting ideas that I can explore in my GAMSAT and medical application process” – the answer is likely yes.
Ultimately – we would certainly recommend that you get into the habit of reading. Reading everything and anything that interests you. This includes listening to audiobooks and podcasts, though a healthy mixture of the written and spoken word is probably a better workout for your brain. This is an activity you should be undertaking in the background however, it is not a substitute for GAMSAT preparation.
Des O’Neill GAMSAT books are very well known in the GAMSAT preparation community. They are especially popular among candidates who are firm believers in myth number two – do as many questions as humanly possible. The Des O’Neill resources do indeed provide a large number of questions for Section 1 and Section 2, as well as some quote sets for Section 2.
The first major shortcoming of this resource is its age. With the passing of the author, this resource is no longer in active publication, and usually has to be acquired either second-hand or as one of many GAMSAT books available for free download (though this is illicit). What this means is that as ACER has changed the style and substance of the GAMSAT over the past decade, the Des O’Neill content has remained the same, and is now unfortunately out of date. This is especially obvious in Section 2and Section 3. The quote format for Section 2 that ACER currently uses in the GAMSAT is significantly different from that in the Des O’Neill GAMSAT revision books – this has been the case for many years.
Likewise, the Section 3 content in the Des textbooks is often filled with technical questions that require rote-learning that is relevant to much older iterations of the GAMSAT exam.
We have been harsh but will now be fair in saying that section 1 content provided by Des is still acceptable, though the problem of myth four is still present. If you have little experience in analysing humanities texts, the Des O’Neill GAMSAT study books will be of little use by themselves. Ultimately, Des O’Neill is probably a better resource than standard GAMSAT textbooks, though this is only marginally the case.
ACER GAMSAT material is the real gold standard of GAMSAT preparation material. While it is impossible to prepare for the GAMSAT exam exclusively through using ACER material, these practice papers teach candidates a few very valuable lessons. These ACER GAMSAT books represent the most accurate format and style of the exam. In practical terms, if the format of the GAMSAT were to dramatically change, ACER would reflect this by updating the practice pdfs available on their website. It is important to note that this has not consistently been the case, as the psychometric format of the exam has been consistent in the recent past.
To answer the question of whether the ACER practice material is worth it – yes and no. The ACER material has no written explanations, it only provides the correct answer to each question. This is a very significant limiting factor in your study because it is not enough to know whether you are correct or incorrect, you need to learn the logic which will allow you to arrive at the correct answer.
In this respect, the ACER practice GAMSAT questions fall short. However, as mentioned previously, becoming familiar with the exam format is a critical step in scoring well in the GAMSAT. In this respect, the ACER material is a good supplement to be used towards the end of your GAMSAT preparation. In the final weeks of your GAMSAT study, it is a good idea to complete the ACER material under timed conditions, as this provides a good simulation of the real exam.
To help you start your GAMSAT journey, be sure to check out some complementary resources put together by our team at Fraser’s GAMSAT.