A bachelor’s degree is an integral part of your student life. Choosing a discipline of tertiary study that interests you can not only determine your future career, but also the experiences you gain in your life. A high GPA score from your university exam demonstrates your academic excellence and broadens your scope of opportunities when you enroll into postgraduate study. However, GPA and course type are not necessarily the be all and end all when it comes to your chances of securing a spot at your dream medical school.
For a career in medicine, there are numerous speculations around what a suitable bachelor’s degree could be in order to perform well in the infamous GAMSAT and the subsequent medical curriculum. However, what has not been debated enough is the measures you can undertake to perform optimally in your GAMSAT without compromising your university studies. After all, a high GAMSAT score to enter a postgraduate medical degree is less impressive if your undergraduate GPA score is not up to the university’s expectations.
Given the psychometric nature of the GAMSAT exam, unlike your uni exams, in this article we will explain why and how you can strike the right balance between your main uni course and GAMSAT study, and how they can work together.
Juggling your GAMSAT prep during university can seem quite challenging because of the demands of both uni and GAMSAT. GAMSAT requires a unique course of preparation, which is targeted on improving your skills, while your university curriculum will often be focused on the acquisition of particular subject knowledge. Although, your university exams as well as the GAMSAT will both help to refine certain key skills, such as time management; even in science courses you cannot rest back with the assumption that your course materials will carry you over the GAMSAT line.
Now when we talk about the GAMSAT, it is a psychometric evaluation that explicitly focuses on your problem-solving abilities. This implies that your tried and tested measures to memorise content or conduct research for your uni assignments may not be applicable for the GAMSAT. In order to have an optimal GAMSAT performance, you have to strengthen your prior academic knowledge while simultaneously developing a personalised study schedule to attune your skills.
In addition to this, the assigned exam duration for the GAMSAT serves a different purpose in contrast to the university exams. If you consider the GAMSAT, it is intentionally designed to be a 5.25 hour marathon with 21 minutes of reading time that evaluates numerous cognitive skills as well as your progress without burning out. Even the GAMSAT scoring system is unlike your uni exams. You won’t be rewarded half a mark for a partially correct response as you may in your university exam and there is no negative marking in the GAMSAT.
Finally, the most obvious fact. The GAMSAT has three core sections - Section 1 Humanities, Section 2 - Essays, and Section 3 - scientific understanding. Each section is unique and it almost feels like sitting through 3 different examinations on a single day. Take for instance, Section 1 and Section 3, which have multiple-choice questions whereas Section 2 is purely an essay writing section. What this means is that you will need to be cognitively flexible, as you move from one type of thinking to the next, a simulation of your future if you are able to enter medicine.
We hope by this stage you agree that GAMSAT preparation needs to be different compared to uni exam preparation.
At Fraser’s, fitting in GAMSAT exam prep round an already busy life is our bread and butter.
Arguably the most important aspect about GAMSAT preparation is consistency, which is quite similar to how you may approach your university assignments or exams. GAMSAT, although different in its content, requires regular practice for you to understand the material, and your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you determine the type of learner you are and the time you need to dedicate to different elements of GAMSAT study in addition to fulfilling your university or work commitments.
Bear in mind that you need to create a study plan that considers your university assignment deadlines and class timings; because let’s face it, your university lectures and grades are just as important as your GAMSAT score. You can re-sit the GAMSAT multiple times in your lifetime but a bad GPA score will adversely affect your future studies getting into medicine and other studies.
To begin your GAMSAT prep, we recommend starting by undertaking diagnostic mock exams and practice tests to identify the sections that you struggle with the most. If you are interested in a particular GAMSAT section, spend some initial weeks to refresh your acquisition of these concepts and immediately transition to work on challenging sections, which would require more of your attention. Depending upon your progress in more difficult GAMSAT components, you can gradually modify your GAMSAT study timeline, either increasing or reducing the duration, in accordance with the skills you acquired to focus on your university commitments.
The Fraser’s family strongly advocates students to create a GAMSAT study timeline that is personalised. Each one of us has active study hours which need to be utilised to maximise your performance across both uni and GAMSAT commitments. If you are a study night owl, then you should aim to fulfill your university errands throughout the day and devote later hours to work through GAMSAT practice questions.
Additionally, utilise your commute time and break time efficiently. Even a simple Physics formula revision or listening to a Ted Talk on route to your university can make a significant difference in your GAMSAT performance.
As stressed earlier, your understanding of GAMSAT concepts is important to have highly targeted GAMSAT prep. Studying for GAMSAT from scratch, particularly for first-timers, could seem daunting due to the vast nature of the GAMSAT questions. In reality though, studying for the GAMSAT is actually useful as it improves your analytical thinking and problem-solving skills which are transferable skills to your university studies.
If you are pursuing a science degree at university, then you are in luck as approaching GAMSAT Section 3 requires first year university standard knowledge in Biology and Chemistry, and a highschool year 12 academic knowledge in Physics. Section 3 GAMSAT also happens to be the largest GAMSAT section, which runs the longest with highest variation in question stems. For this reason, preparing adequately for this section is crucial. But remember, the GAMSAT is no longer a science weighted exam, with most universities now considering an average of the GAMSAT sections, rather than the traditional two times weighted science score.
To those that are coming from a non-science background, you probably are accustomed to interpreting poetry and prose that come handy for GAMSAT Section 1, and may to a certain extent be used to writing long formatted essays suited for GAMSAT Section 2. This is the main reason behind why you need to understand GAMSAT study material and correlate it to your strengths and weaknesses.This way you can focus your attention on the areas that you are weakest on, while affirming your strong skills attained in other university courses or in working life.
Your mental health is the most important factor that needs to be prioritised during this hectic study timeline. The GAMSAT is a challenging endeavour, however your university or work timeline may also understandably be quite hectic. A well-deserved break amidst all this chaotic study schedule will not only increase your attention span, but will keep you energised throughout the day to maximise your performance.
Ideally, you will be studying more than 6 hours in a day, which includes the hours you devote to studying for different units at university. Studying the GAMSAT continuously for more than 3 - 4 months can certainly cause mental fatigue, so remember to keep up your extra-curricular activites, and spend quality time with friends and family as a way to cope with the exam stress.
Moreover, a career in medicine will only get more demanding as you climb up the ranks, so it is important that you take care of your mental and physical well-being from the beginning of your professional journey. Furthermore, understand that undertaking the GAMSAT during university is a major commitment, but it is certainly doable if you implement strategies and have a disciplined routine that you responsibly follow till the very end.
The GAMSAT exam is offered twice a year, in March and September. Both these testing windows could potentially coincide with your university exam timeline. This shouldn’t by any means prevent you from sitting the GAMSAT. Especially if you are in your final year of your undergraduate degree and plan on commencing medicine in the upcoming academic year. The best strategy is to build a GAMSAT study timeline that designates specific hours in the day for your university studies, with time allocated for extracurriculars before jumping into the trenches of GAMSAT study.
The GAMSAT score has a two year validity, making it crucial for you to choose the right testing window and the best GAMSAT preparation courses so you make the most out of your sitting. Here’s an example to illustrate how the scores work: For entry into medicine in 2023, only a score from 2021 September, 2022 March and September, and 2023 March are deemed suitable; the previous years’ scores are obsolete to this admission cycle.
Finally, some of the best GAMSAT study material can be found at Fraser’s website. We have a long standing reputation in the GAMSAT space for guiding many prospective students in their GAMSAT study prep who are now successful medical doctors. If you require targeted GAMSAT study resources, Fraser’s is your one-stop for all things to get into medicine.
All the best for your GAMSAT exam!