As students progress through tertiary education, many have developed individual, tried and tested approaches to study. Whether it be using flashcard programs for memorising material, using online video platforms for learning new concepts or using databases for researching and then Section 2 writing essays, you know what you’re doing when it comes to uni assessments. It only makes sense then that GAMSAT candidates want to approach this infamous medical entry exam using the same study techniques that have served you so well throughout your schooling journey. You are used to scoring well in assessments and are used to your preparation outside of the classroom paying off. However, those who have sat the GAMSAT exam before will probably tell you how much this psychometric test differs from your university exams.
This article will explore why the GAMSAT has been designed the way it has been. This should elucidate both why and how your GAMSAT preparation should vary from your typical university-style study, as well as providing some GAMSAT tips.
I’m sure you would agree that university assessments favour accuracy. Whether it be a mid-semester test or an assignment, students are taught to strive for as close to 100% as possible. You do not want to move on from an exam question until you are satisfied you have figured out the right answer or supplied ample information. You wouldn’t want to submit an assignment without ensuring it met the given criteria required for a High Distinction. Indeed, a lot of students interested in pursuing medicine are self-confessed perfectionists. And that trait has served you well so far; it is conducive to high scores in university assessments.
Therefore, it is so counterintuitive that letting go of perfectionism is one of the most important steps you can take in preparing for the GAMSAT. Surely in such a high-stakes exam, you would want to be getting as many questions correct as you possibly could? Surely you wouldn’t want to leave any answers to chance if you could help it? Well, that would certainly be true if this were an accuracy-focused exam.
However, the GAMSAT exam is looking to distinguish which students can work quickly and methodically. Which students are comfortable cutting their losses and guessing at some moments to improve their chances later in the test? Which students are confident in their answers and do not have to check and recheck their work? Which future doctors can manage their time effectively and back themselves and their decisions?
Whilst it is very unnatural for many GAMSAT sitters to let go of perfectionism, moving quickly through the GAMSAT is essential. Therefore, in your approach to the GAMSAT, you should practise trying to attempt every question by guessing and moving on when needed.
And that's the kind of quality GAMSAT prep you can achieve, while learning the skills in our GAMSAT Essentials package! A one-stop GAMSAT course for all your preparation needs.
Another major distinguishing factor between university assessments and the GAMSAT is that the hours of prep put in do not necessarily correlate with the GAMSAT score received. Perhaps this is the cruellest and frustrating element of the exam; it is why so many people consider the GAMSAT hard.
For most university assessments, you can be assured that you should receive good, fair results if you invest the time into studying the content. Whether this is truly grasping a concept or doing some last-minute cramming the night before a test, the university tends to reward those who put in the work and play by the rules. However, in stark contrast, there are likely hundreds if not thousands of people who have sat the GAMSAT multiple times without seeing improvements in their scores. There are people who dedicate months of their summer holidays to completing GAMSAT practice questions and get a lower score than their previous attempt. There are candidates who can go in and sit the test once and never again. Time invested in preparation is not necessarily a factor when it comes to the GAMSAT.
There are a few factors that contribute to this lack of correlation between preparation time and GAMSAT score. Fore mostly, it is a psychometric exam that tests the way you think. Consequently, some candidates will have an inherent advantage, especially those coming from application/logic-based degrees where they have had to exercise the type of reasoning that the exam is looking for regularly. Moreover, this exam requires an awareness of some content but does not reward a detailed knowledge of it. Lastly, it is not exactly clear what the best way to study for the GAMSAT is. Rather, preparation is usually more active and self-directed, which means students could end up investing time in ways that won’t really benefit them in the GAMSAT exam.
As aforementioned, the GAMSAT is an application-based exam. Throughout Sections 1, Section 2 and Section 3, you are provided with prompts and stimulus material with which you have to apply your logic and reasoning skills. Indeed, foundational awareness of a few key biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics concepts are required, but most of the information needed will be given to you. Additionally, the content covered in Section 3 of the exam is becoming increasingly integrated, further deviating from university-style biology, chemistry or physics exams.
Whilst those of you studying engineering or maths degrees likely have strong reasoning and application skills, it can vary greatly from the memorisation-heavy subjects that predominate most biomedical science degrees. Indeed, whilst many GAMSAT candidates are used to learning scientific dogmas and memorising biochemical pathways or bones in the body, this detailed knowledge is not tested nor rewarded in the GAMSAT.
Perhaps the best favours uni lecturers give us are the beloved learning objectives and assignment rubrics. These tools guide your study to ensure that you learn what is necessary without wasting time going beyond the scope of what is assessable. A good university subject should provide its students with the tools to prepare for assessments sufficiently.
In contrast, the GAMSAT demands much more active and self-directed study. There are several reasons for this, including that:
With self-directed study comes risk. Think of it like running a race; you are expending all of your energy, working extremely hard, but ultimately veering off the course away from the destination. Accordingly, it is essential for students to use an informed and targeted approach to preparing for the GAMSAT to give their hard work the best chance of paying off.
Purchasing the official ACER practise materials is absolutely essential to give you an idea of what you can expect real GAMSAT questions to be like. Fraser’s also offers a GAMSAT practice test written for the new online format with a realistic ACER-like interface. Moreover, Fraser’s offers free GAMSAT resources for Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3.
If the idea of a structured, guided study approach appeals to you, consider Fraser’s GAMSAT preparation courses. These provide a plethora of up to date resources optimized for the online GAMSAT. Moreover, our courses include private tutoring and a personalised approach to your prep. Being taught how to study for GAMSAT can be half of the battle, and Fraser’s specialises in teaching students how to prepare for the GAMSAT Exam.
We hope that you have gained some insight into why the GAMSAT is not the same as university exams, hence why you need to prepare and attempt the exam in a different way. If you gained something from this article, check out some of our other articles below!