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Practicing for GAMSAT

Evidence based practise

by , 29 April, 2016
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No that’s not a typo in the title of this article, that’s my delightfully subtle pun on the topic of this article.  If you don’t get it read this: practice versus practise.

For anyone who has attended my live classes for GAMSATReady or InterviewReady, you’ll know what a sucker I am for evidence based study/interview techniques (remember the power poses?).  In a similar vein, last month’s Harvard Business Review tested the age old adage that practise makes perfect.  The review looked at 50 studies with more than 130,000 participants and demonstrated that practise for pre-hire assessments does indeed make perfect (or near enough). That is to say, for tests that are supposedly aptitude-based (which you therefore shouldn’t be able to cram for), you can actually markedly improve your performance with practise. According to the article, this happens due to three main reasons.

Less anxiety
Now I wrote and rewrote this bit of my blog post but in the end I decided that just directly quoting the thing would be better for everyone:

“As you’d imagine, the more trial runs you’ve had, the more confident and calm you’ll be when taking a high-stakes test, because the various formats and questions, as well as the entire experience, will seem more familiar.”

Seriously, don’t tell me that doesn’t sound like it’s talking specifically to GAMSAT® Exam candidates (see what I mean, a double negative?  I should be sacked from writing these blog posts…).  And from my unfortunate experience sitting the GAMSAT® Exam twice, I can tell you that the best practise for the GAMSAT® Exam is sitting the GAMSAT® Exam – you get a feel for the timing and the pace, the type of questions, the stress of it all and you learn how to manage that.  Obviously though, you don’t want to actually have to sit it twice to prepare well However, by doing practise questions that are designed to replicate the GAMSAT® Exam style reasoning, and by finding a GAMSAT® Exam preparation course that offers a mock GAMSAT® Exam, you’re already well ahead of the pack (or at least your future self having to sit the test again because you had no idea what doing S3 questions in 1.5 minutes felt like).  

Effective exam strategy
"Second, practice makes proven test-taking strategies, such as skipping and revisiting difficult questions, come more naturally when the pressure is on. You’ll learn to ignore irrelevant information and make fewer errors in interpretation.”

Although I’m pretty sure my students end up getting annoyed and think they’re not getting their money’s worth when I keep saying ‘guess and move on’ for those too hard basket S1 questions, I feel totally vindicated!  The reality is, at 1.3 minutes a question for S1 and 1.5 minutes a question for S3, you will have to guess questions!  Good exam strategy is knowing which ones to skip and how to quickly eliminate the distractors to maybe a 50:50 so it’s at least an educated guess.  Bad exam strategy is not doing that along the way and having to put C for the entire last column on your answer sheet.

Just getting better
“And third, repeated test taking can help you develop the very qualities that employers measure.  Neuroscientific evidence suggests that brain-training programs, including skill-based video games, can enhance your focus and your ability to detect patterns—skills that most aptitude testing is designed to assess.”

This kind of goes without saying, but by practising you’ll be developing your reasoning and communication skills, which is what the GAMSAT® Exam is all about.  You may need to build up your base knowledge first (particularly for us poor non-science students) but when you’re ready, make sure you have plenty of GAMSAT® Exam style questions so you can get faster and wilier and more adept at getting through them.

What next?
Although the article was in reference to pre-hire assessments (*cough GAMSAT® Exam and the MMI*) it holds true for “pretty much any kind of test”.  So if you’re currently procrastinating (which is also totally fine in moderation) in relation to some uni assignment or exam you can read the article in full here.