GAMSAT Section 3: Tips & Tricks
22 July, 2022
Section 3 of the GAMSAT exam is arguably the most daunting, due to its length and scope. Additionally, for many universities, Section 3 is the most heavily weighted—worth as much as GAMSAT Section 1 and Section 2 combined. With that in mind, it is essential to prepare adequately for GAMSAT Section 3. In this blog post, I will discuss some tips and tricks to help you perform well in this section.
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GAMSAT Section 3 Preparation Tip #1: Do understand big-picture concepts. Don’t get bogged down in minutiae.
It can be very tempting to become fixated on learning minutiae, especially when studying GAMSAT biology. Don’t fall into this trap—it’s a waste of time and brain space. The GAMSAT will not test you on rote memorisation of facts and will instead provide questions that test your problem-solving ability. If there are any details that you need to know, these will almost always be provided with the question stem.
Instead, focus on the core underlying concepts, and where all the details might fit in the big picture. For example, you don’t need to learn every single enzyme in the Krebs cycle, but you should know that this process exists and that it is an essential part of aerobic respiration. Similarly, you don’t need to remember reduction potentials of different ions, but you should understand the processes of oxidation and reduction. Also, don’t forget that basic mathematics is very important in this section- you should ensure that you are comfortable with rearranging equations and making comparisons. Graph reading is another essential big-picture skill that you should work on. Do check out one of our blog articles which discusses GAMSAT Maths in more detail.
The advantage of knowing the core concepts well is that it will make it easier to learn new things. When you learn something new, try to relate it to what you have learned before. This will help you to revise the old content and learn the new content at the same time—efficiency!
GAMSAT Section 3 Preparation Tip #2: Do allow adequate time for revision. Don’t try to cram.
As with all sections of the GAMSAT, you will need to allow yourself sufficient study time to prepare for Section 3. Even though the GAMSAT exam is a test of your problem-solving abilities, rather than of your pure knowledge, you will still need time to work through practice questions and build up a solid understanding of the material. Furthermore, the skills that GAMSAT tests are not skills that can be crammed, but rather require regular practice over an extended period. While there can be problems with giving yourself too much study time—difficulty maintaining focus, for example—it is probably wiser to hedge your bets on giving yourself more study time, rather than less.
The amount of study time that you will need will vary from person to person. Factors that determine your required study time include previous performance on GAMSAT Section 3 and the amount of time available each day. If you previously did well on Section 3, chances are that you won’t need too much time to brush up on the core concepts for the next go-around. However, if you performed poorly last time, you will need a lot of time to build up the key problem-solving skills for Section 3 success. As for daily study time, if you are very busy and only have small pockets of time here and there to study, you will probably need to start studying much sooner than someone who can treat their GAMSAT study like a full-time job.
GAMSAT Section 3 Preparation Tip #3: Do start doing practice questions early. Don’t wait until you have learned all the content.
Many students find practice questions very daunting and tell themselves that they will start working through them once they have learned all the core content. Don’t fall into this trap! One of the main difficulties in the GAMSAT is that the question style is very different to that of most undergraduate exams. As such, early incorporation of practice questions into your study routine is vital to familiarising yourself with the GAMSAT, which will open the gateway to your success!
Many recent GAMSAT questions have been written on obscure topics, designed so that students with a science background are less likely to have an advantage. Instead, relevant background knowledge is generally provided in the question stem. This means that, even if you haven’t done a lot of GAMSAT Section 3 study, you should hopefully have enough information to reason your way through the questions. Furthermore, if you have limited knowledge to rely on, you’ll be forced to practise your problem-solving and reasoning skills, which is ultimately what you’ll really need to excel in Section 3.
The gold standard practice questions are the booklets from ACER, since they come straight from the makers of GAMSAT. You get one free booklet when you register for GAMSAT, with a few more that you can purchase. GradReady also has an MCQ bank, accessible when you purchase one of our courses. You can also get free MCQs and test our industry-leading learning technology for yourself by signing up for our GAMSAT Free Trial.
In summary, my tips are as follows:
I hope that these tips will help you to guide your study and to feel less daunted by GAMSAT Section 3! If you’re still feeling stuck or overwhelmed, you may wish to consider a GAMSAT preparation course or private tutor to help you get started.
- Start early
- Learn the big-picture concepts
- Do lots of practice questions
Best of luck for the GAMSAT!