21 March, 2018
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Hey you. Yes, you. GAMSAT student. Put down your pen. Step away from the books. It’s the night before the GAMSAT exam. And what are you going to do? Nothing. No more study, ok? Cramming does not work, and it’s 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 GAMSAT and what to expect on the day.
Get your gear ready the night before. Nothing is worse than a frantic search for your keys or the right type of pencil 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:
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 using hand sanitizer and avoiding sick people like… well, like the plague!
Eat a decent dinner and make yourself a solid breakfast for the morning of the exam. It’s important to keep your brain fuelled. DO NOT sit 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!
Get a good night’s sleep – here’s a great list of tips on how to get a good 40 winks during exam periods: Sleeping Tips for Exam Success
Avoid alcohol the night before. I know 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!
You can read some further tips from our other GAMSAT tutors here: Preparing for the GAMSAT 1 week out
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 friend to drop you off.
Know what time you have to leave. Try to get there early enough that there’s no stress, and you have some time to get into the zone.
Don’t forget to work out how you’re going to get home again!
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, and revising the GAMSAT info booklet so you know what to expect when! If you’re looking for an additional overview of the exam you can find one here: GAMSAT 2018 Overview.
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. Here are some great tips for beating exam stress with some videos from UNSW, and a neat little resource with some guided mindfulness exercises from the University of Sydney. These tips can also help you beat your nerves for uni exams, so start practicing 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 other people to try to succeed. They will 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 really important to not let yourself get sucked into their thinking processes. My advice would be to plug those headphones in, listen to some soothing or pump up the music and keep your head down. Ignore EVERYONE. Well, maybe 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.
Do something nice for yourself the night before GAMSAT. Take a bubble bath, watch an old favorite 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 exam. On Saturday, you’re going 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!
It’s looooooooooooooooooooooong. Hugely, ridiculously long. From the moment you arrive super early, so when you finally get to go home, the whole day can take up to 9 or 10 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 center until after 6 pm.
You WILL NOT GET SCRAP PAPER. So get used to doing your working out in margins or in blank spaces of other questions.
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 2 cubicles for girls, for about a thousand people. So drink plenty of water, but avoid those diuretics!
So that’s it for 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 – most people sit the exam multiple times before getting the results they need. Try to enjoy it too – this is the culmination of months 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!