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Although it isn’t the longest section of the GAMSAT ® exam, preparing for Section 1 can be challenging for many students, most ostensibly due to the fact that, unlike Section 3, there isn’t really a clear list of things you need to know. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for science-background students to struggle with Section 1 (and Section 2 for that matter) due to a lack of wider reading. This guide aims to provide you with an overview of how to prepare for and approach Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam.
Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam is also known as “Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences”. ACER uses this multi-choice section to assess your interpretation of qualitative information as well as your reading comprehension. As a result, it could be considered the foil to Section 2, which is an assessment of your language production. For Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam you will be asked questions on a wide array of different media forms, which may include the following (note that this list is not exhaustive):
|Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities||Tests critical reasoning skills as well as the ability to draw conclusions based on evidence with stimuli derived from a variety of non-scientific texts, from fiction and poetry to cartoons||Reading Time 47 MCQs||6 Minutes 64 Minutes|
As in all the sections of the GAMSAT ® exam, exam, the questions in Section 1 will range in difficulty, and so it’s important to be able to answer the ‘easy’ questions quickly, and ‘bank’ some time for yourself. This will come in handy when you have to spend time on the more difficult questions- Due to the nature of the GAMSAT ® exam, it will be these questions that differentiate you from the crowd.
Having a rough estimate of the allotted time per MCQ will also help you keep track of your progress to ensure that you are making adequate progress on the day, and let you know if you need to redouble your efforts to finish in time. It's important to keep in mind that you can obviously only get marks for questions you answer, so make sure that you make it to the end.
For general tips and strategies on how you can prepare for the GAMSAT ® exam, visit our Guide to GAMSAT ® Preparation.
Your preparation for GAMSAT ® Section 1 should be seen as two-fold:
It would be foolhardy to attempt to read material in the hope of encountering it again in the GAMSAT ® exam – exposing oneself to content in the hope of encountering it again in the exam is a Sisyphean task and is well beyond the abilities of mortals or any but the luckiest.
Instead, it is much more useful to consider the different types of media that you might encounter in GAMSAT ® Section 1. If you understand the basic elements of a medium as well as the techniques often utilised in them, it can help you go a long way to answering the questions.
Poetry is an increasingly diverse genre. However, the defining feature is some degree of rhythm or meter. Poetry is primarily concerned with creating effects or capturing moods through the use of language. As such, the weight of what poetry is expressing is not always explicit in the meaning of words, but rather the sounds they make, the way they are combined, or in references to other material. As such, it is important to familiarise yourself with literary techniques and poetic devices so that you can successfully identify them, and better understand their implications and imagery when you are asked questions on them. A good place to start might be the resources below:
Similar to poetry, there is an exceptionally broad variety of fiction available, and a vast array of styles. As such there is a veritable Pandora’s box of literary techniques that you may encounter. One example might be dialogue where you will be asked to identify emotional states or motivations from third person interactions. Another might be the use of irony in a situation where what appears to be the case differs wildly from actuality. Irony is a subtle device and actually an umbrella term for many devices including dramatic irony, situational irony and verbal irony. You would not go wrong to read the Wikipedia page on Irony . Similar to above, it’s important to have a solid understanding of these literary devices to allow you to successfully identify and interpret questions on them. When reading a fiction passage, it’s important to ask some key questions: Who’s point of view is it? Who are the characters? What is the structure of the passage? What happens? What are the stylistic elements? What is the tone?
The variety of non-fiction passages used in Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam is vast: Academic articles, autobiography, biography, essays, guides, critiques, reports, statutes, philosophy and social theory amongst others. Accordingly, the non-fiction questions generally make up the largest portion of Section 1 MCQs. Over recent years there has been a trend towards more technical and jargonistic writing - It’s important to remember that you’re not expected to have specialised knowledge in any of the fields presented to you and to avoid becoming intimidated by unfamiliar language and terms. Always aim to consider the style of the passage, the theme, and what you think the author is trying to say.
Graphic media and cartoons should not be neglected. They provide a valuable opportunity to assess the understanding of the distinction between implication and inference . A good source of practice would be satirical political cartoons in newspapers. You should endeavor to identify the message the cartoon is presenting as well as describe what each individual component of it represents. Some useful sites with free cartoons include:
The use of charts and diagrams is becoming increasingly prominent in Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam, often used to display textual information in a visual form. Similar to preparing for Section 3, the key to preparing here is to develop a practiced approach to reading and understanding graphs and diagrams.
Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam may also present you with stems that consist of a single quote, asking you to identify key themes or ideas. These sorts of MCQs are quite similar to Section 2 in respect to testing this skill, and it may be helpful to prepare by practicing the exercise of theme finding.
In addition to understanding the principles behind these different types of media, working on something as basic as your vocabulary can be particularly helpful. Developing your vocabulary has multiple advantages:
Our Free Trial includes a GAMSAT ® Study Guide with an in-depth, day-by-day study schedule for Section 1 along with all the other sections of the GAMSAT ® exam to help you plan out your preparation. You’ll also get access to 50 MCQs from our Intelligent MCQ Bank and a wealth of other free resources.
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A common piece of advice is to read widely in order to expose yourself to different media in preparation for Section 1 of the GAMSAT ® exam. However, if this is not performed mindfully in a systematic manner, it is next to useless and may in fact harm you as it will essentially become busy work with limited gains.
It is therefore important to have in mind what you are wanting to achieve out of your readings and use these goals to ensure that you read actively.
Below are some guidelines on how to achieve this:
Nevertheless, when performed correctly, reading widely can definitely be beneficial in terms of your GAMSAT ® Preparation. In terms of what to read, this can be broken down into multiple categories. Keep in mind that any reading you do will help with both Section 1 and Section 2 of the GAMSAT ® exam.
|Type of Media||Description||Free Resources|
|Newspapers are perhaps one of the more obvious mediums through which you can read on a wide range of topics and issues.The newspapers listed here arguably offer some of the least biased and fairest reporting.|
Books & Short Stories
|It’s best to aim for short texts. Aim for excellent writing with a focus on authors who have mastered the short-story modality.|
|Again, take advantage of the shorter texts allowing you to read one a day.|
|Poetry is often an area that students tend to dislike, but it’s still a medium that you should familiarise yourself with. Poems are generally a lot shorter so they provide you with an opportunity to read one daily.|
Utilising a dictionary as you read will help develop your vocabulary, and reading is just beneficial overall to help expand your thoughts and enhance your own personal development.
Another area that can often be of value to students in their preparation is philosophy. The focus on philosophy in the GAMSAT ® exam can be tricky in terms of complex ideas and ambiguous writing. Nevertheless there are some common philosophers that may be worthwhile reading as part of your preparation. Delving into this particular topic will familiarise you with philosophical writing and introduce you to another style of writing and different ways of forming ideas.
To begin with, the following Daily Mail article is a great starting point as an introduction to famous philosophers and their theories, but you should follow up for more scholarly information. Some recommended philosophers include:
If preparing for the content should be the first pillar of our preparation, the second involves developing your exam technique and MCQ Strategy. This is important as with good technique, it is possible to get the right answer without necessarily knowing what the answer is by application of some basic statistics and educated guesswork.
MCQs are good for examiners because they can be rapidly and objectively marked. However, there are some benefits for examinees as well. This is because their very design can be taken advantage of. What’s more, the individuals applying the formula to write these questions are victims of the same fallacies and foibles as any other person. If these can be identified then they can also be exploited.
The first thing to appreciate is how MCQs are written. By doing so it is easier to take advantage of their flaws:
So, as you can see, with a keen eye for inconsistencies you can very quickly narrow your acceptable answers down.
However, this will not get you 100% of the way. What follows is a method for approaching each and every MCQ that will further increase your odds of arriving at the correct option.
Read the question, i.e. the task you need to complete to answer the question correctly. Nothing will save you from choosing the wrong answer if you misread the question and so this step is essential. Not only this, but it will prime your mind on what to look for in the stem.
Not only will this also prime your mind on what to look for in the stem, it will also demonstrate the way in which your mind should be working. It will give you key words and grammatical cues to look for in the stem such as the difference between “an” and “a.”
Through the combination of these two you should be able to identify the objective of the question, i.e. what knowledge or skill they are testing. For example, even though you may be asked about what a certain phrase means, what it is actually assessing is your ability to understand the concept of metaphor.
As you are reading you should be able to identify elements that lend towards one or more options being the answer, and elements that detract from one or more of the options. You can then tally at the end to see which answer is the most likely. Couple this with your ability to rule out obvious detractors and your statistical odds alone, and you improve your chances of getting the right option.
For further tips and advice make sure you sign up for our GAMSAT ® Free Trial to watch a recording of our GAMSAT ® Section 1 Workshop - Check out the 12 minute excerpt below
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A breakdown of how to approach study effectively and how to set up a GAMSAT ® study schedule.
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