GAMSAT Exam - What to Do the Night Before
18 March, 2022
‘Twas the night before GAMSAT and all through the house,
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Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The packed bag was hung by the front door with care,
In hopes of a quick getaway and easy route there.
The students were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of test day danced in their heads.'
Hey you. Yes, you. GAMSAT student. Put down your pen. Step away from the books. It’s the night before the GAMSAT exam. What are you going to do? Nothing. No more study, ok? Cramming does not work, especially for a test like this, and it’s far more important for you to be as mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared as you can be. So put away the textbook and shut down your laptop.
So what should I be doing instead of studying the night before the GAMSAT exam, I hear you ask. Here are my top tips for what to do the night before the GAMSAT, and for what to expect on the day:
- Physics preparation
- Your next step is preparing you!
- Logistics preparation
- Mental preparation & emotional preparation
- Relaxation and rewards!
This really falls into two categories – preparing yourself and preparing all the things you will need for tomorrow.
Get your gear ready the night before. Nothing is worse than a frantic search for your keys or ID right before an exam. You need to be super familiar with the GAMSAT information booklet published by ACER, which will tell you what to bring and what to expect. The most important things to pack are:
- YOUR PRINTED GAMSAT ADMISSION TICKET – no electronic tickets are accepted. Make sure you fill in the details and sign it!
- Acceptable form of current photo-bearing ID – double check the info booklet to see what’s accepted. Ensure these are current.
- Also, for your rough working – pencils, pens, sharpeners, erasers, etc.
- Lunch – if you’re the sort of person to get exam nerves, make sure that it’s a simple meal but super delicious and tempting. You will not have time to leave and get food. Do not rely on the availability of fridges/microwaves/kettles, etc. Furthermore, the “hour” allocated for lunch quickly becomes 30 minutes by the time you are actually released from the venue, find a bathroom and then have to queue up again to get back inside. Don’t be like the guy at my exam who missed Section III because his Maccas run took a little too long.
- Snacks – you can’t eat in the testing venue, but you may want to nibble something on the way or while queuing up. Gum is also a good option.
- Jumpers/scarves/cardigans – the testing centres can be very cold. Layers are the key rather than one thick coat; closed shoes are a safer option for toe warmth than open shoes.
- Clear water bottle with no labels – you can take this in with you! But beware excessive fluid intake leading to you needing multiple toilet breaks. Similarly, don’t overdo the fluids at breakfast time, and ensure you visit the bathroom ahead of the test.
- Headphones and source of music to block out the noise while waiting.
- Keys, wallet, phone, etc.
- Analog watches only.
- Any medications that you may need and have special testing accommodations in place for.
- Tissues – pack plenty.
- Paracetamol/ibuprofen, just in case!
Your next step is preparing you!
- I had the misfortune of having the worst cold of my life when I sat GAMSAT. While I still got into med school, I would not wish to repeat the experience. So, in the week before GAMSAT make sure you’re doing your best to follow health and safety protocols. Consider avoiding mass gatherings in the week leading up to the exam.
- Eat a decent dinner and have a solid breakfast on the morning of the exam. It’s important to keep your brain fuelled. DO NOT sit the GAMSAT on an empty stomach. Even if you have butterflies, try just a piece of fruit or a muesli bar. You need that food for your brains to fire on all cylinders! It is likely a significantly longer exam than you are used to, and moreover the logistics of the day add greatly to the overall time.
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Avoid alcohol the night before. While it might be tempting to soothe your nerves, but if you’ve got an early start, you may feel more groggy and slower to get moving. Not to mention consuming alcohol before bed gives you a worse night’s sleep – and you need all the Z’s you can get to make sure your brain is charged up and ready to go!
- Know where you are going. Try to work out the exact building/room/level if you can.
- Know how you will get there. Try to avoid driving if you can – finding a park is a whole new level of stress that you don’t want! Take public transport, or even better, get a soothing family member or friend to drop you off.
- Know what time you will have to leave. Try to get there early enough that there’s no stress, and you have some time to get into the zone. Bad weather means you need to allow extra time for transit.
- Don’t forget to work out how you’re going to get home again!
Mental preparation & emotional preparation
- You have done the best you could with your GAMSAT preparation for exam day. No amount of last-minute studying will make a difference now. If you really do feel the need to go over a few things though, I’d recommend reviewing your strategies for each section (e.g. What is my plan during reading time?), and revising the GAMSAT info booklet so you know what to expect when!
- Lots of people find GAMSAT more stressful than other exams. The trick with dealing with exam stress is to start practicing the techniques NOW before you get too overwhelmed. Check out our blog article on GAMSAT Stress Management Strategies. These tips can also help you beat your nerves for other uni exams, so start practising now!
- Unfortunately, people do try to play mind games on the day of GAMSAT. It’s horrible, and sad that they feel inept enough that they need to rely on psyching out others to try to succeed. They may try to freak you out, bragging about how confident they feel, how much study they’ve done, or moaning about how hard it’s going to be and how they’re going to fail. Whether intentional or not, it’s important to not let yourself get sucked into their thinking processes. My advice would be to plug those headphones in, listen to something soothing or pump up the music and keep your head down. Ignore EVERYONE, except for the people in fluoro vests giving you directions to queue up or telling you when to start writing. Please don’t ignore them.
Relaxation and rewards!
- Do something nice for yourself the night before GAMSAT. Take a bubble bath, watch an old favourite movie. Treat yourself to dessert. You’ve worked hard up until this point, and a little unwinding will do you good!
- Then, plan some rewards for after the GAMSAT. The night afterwards you’re likely to be pretty exhausted. So maybe just stick to a nice quiet night in or a catch up with friends. If you’re anything like me though, you may be asleep within an hour or two of getting home from the exam!
- Plan something bigger and more exciting for the next day. Study for anything else is absolutely forbidden for 24 hours. Go on an adventure, to the beach, for a hike. Go rock climbing, or to a museum. Play board games all day with your friends, or catch up with the family you’ve been neglecting for the past few weeks while you’ve been cramming. If you do get into med school, these opportunities to truly take time off and to catch up with your friends and family will become increasingly infrequent. So make the most of it now!
So what else should you know about the day?
So that’s it from me. Good luck with your revision and last-minute study this week, and don’t forget to take the time to relax and unwind before the exam. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – many people sit the exam multiple times before getting the results they need. Try to enjoy it too – this is the culmination of months (or years!) of study and hard work on GAMSAT preparation, and an opportunity for you to show how far you’ve come. From the whole GradReady Team, we wish you Good luck!
- It is a long day. Hugely, ridiculously long. From the moment you arrive super early, to when you finally get to go home, the whole day can take up to 7 or 8 hours when you factor in all the queuing up, ID checking, distribution, and collection of exam materials etc. If you’re at a large venue with lots of students (some hold 2500+), don’t expect to get out of the centre until after 5 pm.
- Go easy on the caffeine – toilet breaks are limited! And you don’t want to waste precious writing time in the bathroom! Toilets at the venue may also be limited – at my exam venue, there were two cubicles for girls, for about a thousand people. So drink plenty of water, but avoid those diuretics!
Check out our Definitive Guide to GAMSAT Results to learn more about the score that you should be aiming for.