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Section 3
9 min read

GAMSAT Preparation: Splitting Section 3 Study Time

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Written By
Tobias Gaitt

Aside from the GAMSAT test difficulty, many students who previously undertook the GAMSAT exam can collectively vouch that the experience was exhaustive to say the least. Sitting through a four and half hour examination that tests your higher-order intellectual capacity is every bit dreadful as it seems. Section 3 amounts to half the exam timing and also happens to be the core foundation of the GAMSAT, so this is often the part to top off a hard day.

Many students in our experience struggle to complete this section under pressure and also complain that it is the trickiest aspect of the GAMSAT experience as a whole.  The GAMSAT Section 3, ‘Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences’, has 75 questions with an allocated test time of 150 minutes. This section has the largest set of question-themes compared to the other sections, and measures your in-depth subject knowledge in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and to a deceivingly large extent, Mathematics

For this reason, this GAMSAT section has often been the root cause for extreme stress and anxiety in students, mainly because there are a magnitude of scientific concepts to process but inadequate knowledge around how to dedicate time during preparation and ‘on the day’ of GAMSAT.

What Percentage of Section 3 is Biology, Chemistry and Physics?

The first important thing to consider about Section 3 is that ACER, the company in-charge of GAMSAT, has explicitly reduced the number of questions in Section 3 and Section 1 since GAMSAT transitioned to a digital format.

With regards to Section 3 GAMSAT, the questions are integrated based on three areas of study and roughly distributed in the following percentage:

  1. Biology - 40%
  2. Physics - 20%
  3. Chemistry - 40%

Before we explore the GAMSAT study timeline for Section 3, we need to understand that Section 3 should not be considered as a mere ‘science’ test. This is not an exam you can rote learn, requiring you to acquire the ability to use the skills necessary to succeed in scientific themed questions.

Despite the GAMSAT being a skills-based test, in order to answer Section 3 questions, your subject knowledge in Chemistry and Biology should correspond to a first year university-level of education and an A-level, Leaving Certificate or Australian Year 12 in Physics. Therefore, students from an Arts and Commerce stream may need extra work to bring their scientific knowledge up to scratch, but this should not dissuade you, if you are one of those people, as students from those areas regularly do exceedingly well when it comes to GAMSAT results day.

GAMSAT Section 3 Strategy For Preparation

Physics has a great deal of importance in medical practice, from the understanding of blood pressure to MRI machines, but in contrast to Biology and Chemistry, most students tend not to prioritise this discipline of science during their GAMSAT preparation

How To Prepare For Section 3 Physics?

The Physics component of the GAMSAT readily incorporates formulas and laws of mathematics. Therefore, if you lack a sound understanding of these concepts then your ability to perform speedy calculations will be severely impacted. Remember, Physics is an application-based discipline of science, meaning that only those with a good understanding of the mechanics of a concept can answer the questions in the test with minimal errors.

Do not let the percentage of Physics integration prevent you from including it in your preparation for the GAMSAT. Instead, think about how you can optimise your performance in this subject area to boost your Section 3 score, while other students can merely aim to score well in Chemistry and Biology alone. 

GAMSAT Prep Tips For Physics

1. Start your preparation with Physics & Mathematical principles

 Begin your Section 3 preparation by acquainting yourself with the basic Physics formulas and mathematical principles. Remember, the level of difficulty for Physics is similar to your Year 12 Physics, so remember to refresh your textbook knowledge and strengthen core foundations on concepts when you attempt physics practice questions.

2. Maintain a Physics checklist

A Physics Checklist can be helpful to know all the relevant formulas, concepts, and question-types that you have come across in your preparation to then build strategies around the questions that you find challenging. 

Revisiting the formulas on a daily basis, or by asking your family and friends to question you on these formulasis a great way to commit the concepts to memory. Answering a pop-up quiz on formulas, for about 10 minutes daily will let you access the formulas stress-free during your exam.

3. Beyond Rote Learning: Embrace Practice Early On.

Practice questions are the most realistic preparation strategy to improve your expertise in the test. This is true because GAMSAT is not an information-recall test, but instead focuses on your problem-solving skills. 

Throughout all stages of GAMSAT preparation, ensure that you attempt as many practice questions and mock exams as possible. It is also reasonable to devote a few hours to differentiate between questions that you are comfortable solving and the ones that you find most difficult. Bear in mind that Chemistry and Biology concepts are more frequently examined in the test, so it is important to not overcommit yourself to physics preparation at the expense of everything else!

4. Time Management Mastery: Improve your time per question

 In order to get the most out of your preparation, often people find that undertaking practice exams with un-timed conditions before shifting to work against a ticking clock offers the best way to ease into the demands of GAMSAT.

Spend a few hours in the initial few weeks to familiarise yourself with the question-themes and application of formulas. But remember that the number of hours that you will need to do this for will vary from person to person. Once you are comfortable, do your best to replicate the real GAMSAT exam. This way, you will maximise your time management skills during the test. 

How To Study For GAMSAT Section 3 Chemistry?

Chemistry constitutes 40% of the Section 3 questions. However, there is no need to panic. The knowledge demanded for GAMSAT Chemistry is based on core learnings from First year university-degree qualifications, which most people can pick up even if from a non-science background.

Here’s a step-by-step GAMSAT study plan to strengthen your foundation in Chemistry:

1. Understand the implication of chemistry equations and theories

Your GAMSAT prep for Chemistry should begin with integrating new theoretical concepts to your existing knowledge framework. 

Once you understand how to incorporate fresh concepts into your problem-solving, you can break down the chemistry concepts into simpler chunks of information. It is recommended that you dedicate a suitable amount of time towards Chemistry, depending upon your prior experiences, to fully accommodate yourself with the concepts. This way your core outlook towards the content will increase in breadth and can help to generate a systematic approach towards practice questions.

2. Attempt numerous Chemistry practice questions

As stressed earlier, the Chemistry segment is constructed based on a variety of themes, therefore, practice questions are your bread and butter to get accustomed to the intricacies of the test. 

As with physics, sitting multiple mock exams is the key to understanding your key strengths and weaknesses. Also, keep in mind to segregate the questions whether they fall under Biochemistry, core Chemistry, or Biophysics; this way you can work through the difficulty of the questions based on the principles you need to consider and apply.

3. Maintain a Chemistry Checklist

A Chemistry checklist, similar to Physics, can organise all of the key concepts and formulas in one place, so you can visit them daily to objectively track your progress in this section. 

Creating a checklist is a one-time task, once you arrange your ideas on a notepad or spreadsheet, you can add on to the list as you encounter fresh themes in your GAMSAT chemistry preparation. Be certain to visit your checklist at least twice per week, and create a separate column that is solely meant for any key strategies that worked in your favour and those that lead you astray.

How To Study For GAMSAT Section 3 Biology?

The branch of science that studies life as we know it is Biology. It requires no introduction when it comes to its relevance and importance in medical practice. Only those with a sound knowledge in the Biological sciences can identify the cause of diseases, provide appropriate diagnoses, and explain the effects of therapies to their patients.

40% of Section 3 questions are made up of Biology concepts, however, the percentage breakdown should help to guide your preparation strategy rather than make you stress over rote-learning everything. Many GAMSAT tutors and past students have noticed that the Chemistry segment is comparatively higher-yield in the GAMSAT than Biology, so use this information wisely.

To prepare for Section 3 Biology, your book knowledge should be set aside because the style of Biology questions in GAMSAT are analytical in nature as opposed to being content-driven.

Let’s delve further into a GAMSAT study plan for Biology:

1. Laying the Groundwork: Start with the Fundamentals

Begin your GAMSAT Biology preparation by covering the foundational concepts. This will set the stage for a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

2. Prioritize Skill Development Over Memorization

Instead of passively reading textbooks, engage in discussions, or teaching sessions about biological concepts. Explaining a concept to someone else can solidify your understanding. Also, Create visual representations to understand the interconnectedness of topics and relate concepts to real-world scenarios for practical understanding.

3. Deep Dive into Question Types

Beyond just testing memory, GAMSAT Biology questions assess your understanding of processes and the effects of elements like enzymes. Familiarize yourself with the different question types to tailor your study approach.

4. Consistent Practice is Key

Engage in regular practice sessions to familiarize yourself with various question themes. This consistent practice will enhance your accuracy and time management skills during the actual test.

Where To Next?

We hope this article will help you develop your own GAMSAT study plan to secure a high Section 3 score. Remember that every student’s strengths and weaknesses lie across different sections of the GAMSAT curriculum. It is important to identify your key skills, at the same time, work on your weaknesses to secure your spot in medical school.

Having said that, here are a few free resources that can cater to your GAMSAT preparation and help improve your GAMSAT score.