The GAMSAT exam is a gruelling psychometric test. Over the course of multiple hours, ACER will test your knowledge of communication, comprehension biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. At the same time, you will have to maintain composure under pressure, and battle mental fatigue. Given the enormity of this challenge, it is absolutely critical that you put together a GAMSAT study schedule. This will allow you to hold yourself accountable to milestones in your study, as well as preventing exam preparation from overwhelming your university, and social life.
Before creating your very own GAMSAT study program, it is important to consider what areas of the GAMSAT syllabus you will need to cover. In this article, we will cover the steps in setting yourself up for GAMSAT preparation. After a brief overview of the GAMSAT content, we will walk you through where and when you should start working on preparation material.
At Fraser’s GAMSAT, we would extrapolate this table to include the following:
Reviewing this list, the first question to ask is where are your areas of weakness, as well as your areas of strength?
Many students from a science background should aim to spend no more than a few weeks to months reviewing biomedical content, moving quickly to working through practice questions. Similarly, a student without a humanities background should dedicate at least a month to slow, supervised essay writing before attempting a timed response to Section 2.
Identifying your strengths is also important. Given the difficulty of the GAMSAT exam, it is important to lean into these areas of strength. It is unlikely that a student with a passion for biology will earn more points in the humanities section than in Section 3 of the exam. For this reason, we advocate working to make sure that you score well on all sections of the exam but that you excel in your preferred section. This strategy ensures that you maximise your average score.
Once you have outlined your strengths and weaknesses by going through the relevant GAMSAT Section 3 syllabuses, it is time to set concrete objectives and put together a study plan!
The time allocated to GAMSAT preparation is highly valuable. After all, you still have to juggle your university studies, part-time job, and social life. While the three month plan is by no means an absolute recommendation, this is an example of a safe preparation plan for an average biomedical science student. It goes without saying that this plan would be modified greatly based on the strengths and weaknesses of the individual student. The table below is known as a ‘macro’ plan, its purpose is to outline your overall study goals for the upcoming GAMSAT.
N.b. The ‘Q-Log’ referred to above is the ‘question log’ technique. If you are interested in reading more about this study technique, please search for the article on this topic, found on our website.
Once you have created a ‘macro’/long-term study plan, it is time to take the next step, and create an intermediate plan. This type of plan addresses the specific goals of your study within a given week. Below is an example of an intermediate plan.
You should aim to have a rough outline as above written before beginning your study each week. This will prevent you from falling into the trap of hours of endless study. The reason why endless study is unhealthy is because it puts you at risk of burnout, which is a sure way to underperform in both study and the exam. It is important to accept that the topics of GAMSAT (and medicine) are potentially infinitely complex, and you should be pragmatic rather than exhaustive in your study goals.
If you are a biomedicine or science student and don’t have access to a Fraser’s Course, the best GAMSAT preparation to master the core content of Section 3 are your lecture slides from university. If you have completed university standard biology, chemistry, or physics courses, these should serve as the bread and butter of your preparation. It is not recommended that you read a textbook to refresh your knowledge - this is incredibly tedious, inefficient, and does not fit into a reasonable GAMSAT preparation timetable. Beyond your lectures, it is reasonable to use youtube videos, and your peers or tutors to ‘spot-check’ difficult material.
The GAMSAT prep study schedule for a student without a biomedical science background is undoubtedly more challenging. If you have the opportunity to include the relevant subjects in your future university education, this is recommended both from a GAMSAT, and a medical training perspective. Beyond this, most preparation companies (including Fraser’s GAMSAT) offer a comprehensive preparation course which condenses the relevant content into a few weeks of teaching.
The best GAMSAT study material for Section 2 are the quote generators available online. Fraser's quote generator allows students to access randomly selected quotes for Section 2 essay writing. The next best resource following the quote generator are your peers and tutors- in other words, anyone who is willing to read your work and offer feedback. Written communication tasks are awarded points for clarity, this is why it is important to have an objective marker review your work and ensure that it is legible, grammatically correct, and reasonably communicates ideas. To gain an understanding of the standard required for a strong Section 2 performance, see our page of example Section 2 essays.
Finally - it is important to start GAMSAT study by attempting questions as soon as possible. No GAMSAT study package would be complete with a large number of Section 1 and Section 3 questions. Unfortunately, the majority of the existing resources available online are out of date, and are not consistent with the existing GAMSAT format. While they can be a good starting point, it is important to transition to high quality GAMSAT questions.
The best way to study for the GAMSAT, especially in the ‘mock exam’ period leading up to the real test, is by completing the papers provided by ACER. ACER provides a free sample paper, as well as multiple paid mock exams on its website. The ACER questions would only realistically last a proficient student a few weeks, so the next step is to look for extra paid, and free GAMSAT study material. Fraser’s GAMSAT has carefully compiled a free set of introductory resources available on the website.
One of the most frequently asked questions students ask is ‘how long to study GAMSAT?’ prior to attempting the exam. You should try and avoid the ‘timed study’ mentality as much as possible. Please remember that there is a potentially limitless amount of detail that can be studied when it comes to learning the biomedical sciences. This is why the best GAMSAT study schedule is focused on outcomes rather than time spent learning.
Another GAMSAT study tip is that you should try and find a group of students, and prepare together. This is exactly the format that Fraser’s GAMSAT fosters in its problem-based learning (PBL) classes, and is also the spirit of study that is encouraged in medical school. The group helps keep you accountable, while also expanding the power of your spot-checking skills. This means you will be exposed to a greater breadth of content and difficult questions, if you discuss the challenges you face in preparation. A collaborative approach is especially important when retaking the GAMSAT exam, as it will help you debrief your previous attempt, as well as supporting you throughout the preparation process.
In our previously published articles, we have discussed the usefulness of GAMSAT preparation companies in studying for the exam. Acknowledging the obvious stake we have in the industry, our general advice here is that you tailor your preparation to your needs. GAMSAT courses are not ‘one size fits all’, it is important to work with the company to find the classes and packages that are right for you. The greatest advantage of working with Fraser's, however, is that you do gain access to a large, thoroughly reviewed, and up-to-date question bank, as well as the support of experienced tutors. Having said this however, it is still important to utilise the available online resources, as well as your family and friends to support, and inform your GAMSAT preparation.
Finally - the most important piece of advice we can give is that the GAMSAT is a very hard exam. As such, nothing can replace focused and consistent work on your behalf. The best and most consistent GAMSAT study package is a committed attitude.