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GAMSAT Physics: How to Prepare

Physics is arguably the least represented background among students who decide to sit the GAMSAT ® Exam. Most students come in with a background in biology or chemistry , or at times humanities, but rarely have a strong physics background. This makes the GAMSAT ® Physics questions and concepts seen on the exam seem much harder than their other subject counterparts, especially because many students intentionally avoid studying physics knowing it will be a bit of an uphill battle and instead hoping to rely on their biology and chemistry background - Don’t fall into this trap! Physics is a potentially invaluable window to increase your GAMSAT ® Section 3 score.

This guide will help you to understand why Physics is important for both the GAMSAT ® and in medical/health professional education. But most importantly, the tips and advice you should be taking on to maximize your efficiency when studying and performance during the GAMSAT ® Exam.

  1. Why is Physics in the GAMSAT ® ?
  2. Tips for studying GAMSAT ® Physics
  3. Approaching Physics Questions on Exam Day
  4. Final Advice
  5. Further Preparation Resources

Why is Physics in the GAMSAT?

It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that the majority of GAMSAT ® candidates harbour a certain irrational fear towards physics questions. But why? Most believe that physics-based questions are overly-difficult since they did not study high school physics or have not touched any form of physical science during their high school or undergraduate study. Others feel that physics is a foreign topic that extends far beyond their intellectual capabilities. The rest believe that physics and medicine go hand in hand like orange and apples (i.e. there is absolutely no correlation between the two disciplines), hence lack the motivation to improve their understanding of basic physics.

But do these reasons justify the notion to skip physics questions and lose valuable marks in the GAMSAT ® Exam? Absolutely not! Given few students have physics backgrounds, this may very well be the separation between you and other students.

If most of the cohort taking the exam do quite well on the chemistry and biology portions of the exam (given most of them will have some sort of background in at least one or both of these subjects), that makes the physics questions the separator between an average and competitive percentile. A few correctly answered physics questions could mean a significant difference in your overall score and standing within your cohort, especially if the rest of the cohort is purposely avoiding studying physics content and is skipping those questions on the day.

But ACER says that ONLY 20% of questions will be physics?

While this may be true, ACER has begun in recent years to combine elements of physics within BOTH biology and chemistry questions. This means that you may find that 40-50% of GAMSAT ® Exam questions would require some maths (i.e. basic arithmetic) as well as some physics knowledge despite the stem of the question being predominantly biology or chemistry-based.

A classic example would be a stem that reviews the flow of blood through a major artery. What happens if the blood pressure increases? Would the diameter of the blood vessel decrease/increase? Similar questions are found in the actual GAMSAT ® Exam but also when you start your medical degree. Approach the GAMSAT ® exam as a training ground before starting your medical career. Developing the ability to reason logically and process systematically when given new information/formulas/data are important qualities in becoming a good doctor.

Aren’t all questions worth the same?

The GAMSAT ® Exam is marked in a certain way such that questions which are highly predictive of high scores (i.e. those that high performing students get right, and low performing students get wrong) have greater weight. For further details on this topic, refer to our guide on GAMSAT ® scores and Item Response Theory. Since physics questions tend to be poorly answered, they often are ‘worth’ more than other questions.

Graduates of physical sciences courses (physics, maths) are more likely to perform better than their biomedical or social sciences colleagues especially overall in Section 3. Hence, there is greater incentive to nail these questions to give you the best chance to attain a higher overall percentile.

Tips for studying GAMSAT Physics

Everybody has a different approach for studying. You need to find what works for YOU and stick to it. Here are 5 tips to prepare collated from our GAMSAT ® Physics tutors:

  1. Routine is key!

    Begin study early and create a timetable for yourself. Being consistent with your schedule and completing as many practice questions as possible is essential to build up that necessary confidence.

  2. Read | Check | Analyse | Repeat

    • While this seems intuitive, you’d be surprised how many students are not competently doing this. For any question you encounter (especially Physics related), take the time to read the stem carefully because most of the info required is always there!
    • Don’t try to memorise facts/steps for each answer (becauses chances are you won’t get the same question again).
    • Understand why you are getting questions wrong BUT ALSO why you are getting them right based on the stem provided. This is imperative to develop your problem solving and deductive reasoning especially to answer questions that you’ve never seen before
    • Avoid imposing a hard time limit from the start of your study as this is often counter-productive. Taking the time to answer questions right rather than doing them quickly is a much better way to help accelerate your learning and improve your scores
  3. Study Focus & Identify Weaknesses

    • Do NOT be discouraged if you’re not mastering all the topics [NOBODY knows everything!]
    • Narrow down your study and hone in on your areas of weaknesses and place more emphasis on these topics in your study
    • Covering as many questions as possible will reduce concerns that you are missing out on anything and help minimise wasting your valuable time on topics which rarely or never appear (which you might do if you try to study everything at once).
  4. Formulas are NOT everything!

    • Remember that the GAMSAT ® Exam is ALL about REASONING , not knowledge. GAMSAT ® questions assess your ability to digest, interpret and detect patterns in information provided to you and make logical inferences.
    • While memorising formulas help, they are definitely NOT necessary. Too many students have a tendency to perceive that physics is all about remembering and using formulas! This is certainly not the case and ACER specifically designs GAMSAT ® questions to avoid this.
    • What is important is that you are able to generate relationships between different formulas and have the confidence in your algebraic manipulation skills to highlight new relationships and make logical conclusions.
  5. Mock Exams!

    This is the BEST way to test your speed and pace in answering GAMSAT ® questions to finish the exam on time.

    Yes, this means completing Section 1 and 2 back-to-back then taking a rest before completing Section 3 in the allocated time. It is best to simulate this in a quiet place outside home (e.g. university library) to experience the arduous nature of the exam in a foreign environment. Remember, surgeons have to consistently be in the operating theatre to hone on their surgical skills. Likewise, greater exposure to exam conditions to build up the necessary endurance to perform optimally (not just survive) the actual GAMSAT ®

To make a start with some free MCQs, you can sign up for our GAMSAT ® Free Trial which includes 50 free MCQs from our intelligent MCQ Bank, as well as heaps of other free resources!

    Get Access to:
    • 50 Free MCQs
    • Week-By-Week Study Guide
    • Complete Session 3 Topic List
    • Recorded Webinars
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Approaching Physics Questions on Exam Day

Exam day. You’re here. What now?

  1. Eat well & stay hydrated

    Many students often forget the exam is a WHOLE-DAY event. What you eat/drink before and during the breaks is important. Prepare meals the day before (but nothing that will give you a food coma!). Good options include high fibre snacks (e.g. nuts, bars) and avoiding greasy foods. Most importantly (for those with weak bladders), go to the bathroom when prompted!

  2. In the Zone!

    Recognise that there will ALWAYS be exam stress. This is perfectly NORMAL. To stay in the zone, focus on what works for YOU! Sometimes talking with others is a good way to brush off some cob-webs, while being quiet/meditating works just as well. If you feel uncomfortable listening to the banter before entering the exam hall, walk to another location where you feel comfortable and keep your mind as calm as possible. Remember that the GAMSAT ® exam is just one of many exams you will have to undertake in your medical career. Finding what works for YOU is critical!

  3. Pace Yourself

    This is a balancing act - It’s important to be patient and take your time to do each question to ensure you get them right. You’d be surprised that this approach yields better results than randomly guessing 30-40 questions in the hope of completing all the questions in Section III. That said, it’s also important to recognise when a question or unit may be a loss cause and to move onto the subsequent question to avoid wasting too much time - Remember, time is a scarce resource in the GAMSAT ® exam. Move on to the next question and mark any questions you’ve skipped so you can return to them at the end, and make educated guesses if necessary.

  4. Attack and never give up

    • Section III is arduous, torturous and relentless. You will experience exam fatigue sometime around the midway point. Remember to breathe, hydrate and regather yourself if you need to before each question.
    • Remain focused throughout the exam as there are ALWAYS easy physics questions to answer. Don’t try to count how many physics questions you need to get right, as this may lower your motivation to attempt some questions.
    • If you encounter a difficult question, don’t spend more than 2 mins on it. Rather narrow down your options and move on. Do not procrastinate over the previous question! Every new page is a new chance to prove yourself and an opportunity to EARN (NOT LOSE) more marks!
  5. It is Multiple choice!

    If you are running out of time, fill in ALL of your answers. Doing this does NOT mean you have failed. As long as you are confident that your previous answers are correct, you should feel satisfied with how you performed in the exam.

For further free GAMSAT ® Exam resources, including a complete topic list for Section 3, check out a complete list here: Free GAMSAT ® Preparation Materials

Download our GAMSAT ® Exam Study Syllabus for a full list of Section 3 topics as well as tips and advice for Section 1 and 2:

Final Advice

For some candidates, physics is and may never be their cup of tea. If you have followed the tips above and still feel that physics is still a foreign unattainable world that can never be understood, it would be wise to judiciously skip “pure” physics questions (esp. topics that you have no knowledge of) in the actual GAMSAT ® Exam and concentrate on other questions.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to recognise EASY physics questions and make sure you get them right! Make a note of missed questions on the spare paper provided and come back to difficult physics questions (if you have time). HOWEVER , narrow down the options as best you can and select an appropriate answer (sometimes you get lucky!).

Be committed to doing well for the GAMSAT ® Exam to avoid paying the ludicrous exam fees. Remember that about 20-40% of candidates are sitting the exam for the first time with little to no preparation. Most will undoubtedly struggle so this should give you confidence that your preparation gives you that extra edge to score that higher score and percentile!

Start early, study hard and practice, practice, practice! The more questions you are exposed to, the easier it becomes to identify the pattern/style of questions that emerge from the actual GAMSAT ® and the thought process required.

Lastly, do YOUR best! While the GAMSAT ® is just an exam, it is an IMPORTANT hurdle not just to get into a medical school but also developing your sense of character! You will have to face many more exams in your future medical career so treat the GAMSAT ® as the first in the line of many to conquer along the way.

Further Preparation Resources

  1. What is the GAMSAT ® ?

    Everything you need to know about the GAMSAT ® exam from structure and overview to which universities require the GAMSAT ® .

  2. Understanding your GAMSAT ® Results

    Covers everything you need to know about your GAMSAT ® Results - How the scoring works, result release dates and even GAMSAT ® score cutoffs.

  3. How to prepare for GAMSAT ® Section 1

    An overview of what to expect in Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam, and how to prepare.

  4. How to prepare for GAMSAT ® Section 2

    An overview of what to expect in Section 2 of the GAMSAT ® exam, how to prepare, and how to perfect your essay technique.

  5. How to prepare for GAMSAT ® Section 3

    An overview of what to expect in Section 3 of the GAMSAT ® exam, and how to prepare for each of the topics – Biology, Chemistry, & Physics.

  6. How to prepare for GAMSAT ® Biology

    What to expect and how to prepare for Biology in the GAMSAT ® exam.

  7. How to prepare for GAMSAT ® Chemistry

    What to expect and how to prepare for Chemistry in the GAMSAT ® exam.

For further tips and advice make sure you sign up for our GAMSAT ® Free Trial to watch a recording of our GAMSAT ® Section 3 Workshop - Check out the 10 minute excerpt below

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    • 50 Free MCQs
    • Week-By-Week Study Guide
    • Complete Session 3 Topic List
    • Recorded Webinars
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