GAMSAT Strategies for Success
24 October, 2019
If you have any friends who are studying for the GAMSAT, or who have done the GAMSAT before, you may have been bombarded with their ideas and opinions about all the best GAMSAT strategy for success in preparing for and sitting the exam.
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Personally, I tried not to become too overwhelmed by this when I sat the GAMSAT. Instead I tried to keep my approach simple, but effective. I can’t say it was particularly easy, nor did I manage to incorporate them all as successfully as I would have hoped, but I definitely felt that having a simplified, balanced strategy was essential to my success.
Over the years, I’ve managed to compile a few of what seem to be the most important, ‘first-line’ strategies to incorporate into an effective GAMSAT study plan. I’ve also broken some of them down to the specific Sections they relate to.
And here they are…
The Planning Stage: (know the exam and have a plan!)
First and foremost, my number one advice for anyone taking the GAMSAT is to make sure you understand what the GAMSAT is. If you don’t know much about the exam, I highly recommend you read this super helpful guide, and of course, the ACER information booklet. A proper understanding of what is actually being assessed in the exam will allow you to modify and optimise your study as you go along, and hopefully prevent you from wasting time studying the wrong stuff.
Secondly, any great GAMSAT strategy for success should really include a detailed plan. There’s a lot of different content to cover before sitting the GAMSAT exam, and having a clearly organised and specific schedule will allow you to succeed without that horrible feeling of forgetting something important. It also allows you to allocate your time according to your own needs. If you’re not a big reader, for example, but have been studying science at uni for the past couple of years, you may need to allocate more time for reading widely.
And this brings me to my next crucial strategy for success…
Sections I and II Success GAMSAT Strategy: (Don’t just read widely!)
If you’ve ever heard any advice for preparing for these sections of the GAMSAT exam, it would be to read widely.
Read widely? But what does that even mean? How wide? What should I read?
Firstly, wide reading is something you should start early. It’s not really something you can cram. If you’re not sure exactly what to read, it’s always a good idea to start with the kind of materials that will likely be in the exam. Not only will reading a wide range of media develop your interpretation and analytical skills, but it will also keep things engaging!
Even more important for your success is that you take time to reflect, develop your thoughts on, and critically-analyse the material that you are reading. There is no point giving yourself a huge pile of books, poems and articles to read that leaves you no time to actually think about what you are reading.
These sections of the GAMSAT exam are not assessing your ability to read a lot in a short amount of time (although fast reading does help!), but they aim to test how well you can draw conclusions from a variety of materials.
For this reason, it really is essential that you strategise before you set your reading list. You want to read widely, meaning a lot of materials but also a lot of different types of materials. You also need to set enough time aside to reflect and analyse. And enough time to then check your interpretations against something else. For some help with this, I’d recommend reading this guide.
Strategies for Section III Success: (Know the basics, and practice, practice, practice!)
The ACER booklet states that the, “GAMSAT evaluates the nature and extent of abilities and skills gained through prior experience and learning, including the mastery and use of concepts in basic science as well as the acquisition of more general skills in problem solving, critical thinking and writing."
So basically, it is assessing your ability to make deductions from information provided to you in the exam whilst utilising your prior knowledge and your problem-solving skills. Therefore, the first step in any GAMSAT Section III strategy should be to know the basics. It’s no hard and fast rule, but it’s generally recommended to have a first-year university-level knowledge of biology and chemistry, and year 12 physics. Without this, it could take you a lot longer to contextualise yourself when approaching a GAMSAT Section III question.
Once you’ve got a handle on the science basics, it is really important that you do as many practice questions as you can (without burning out of course). The only way to develop the abovementioned ‘mastery and use of concepts in basic science’ is by using them regularly.
So, when you’re developing your success plan for GAMSAT at the beginning of your studies, make sure you schedule in regular practice. I really cannot recommend this strategy enough! I also found it really helpful for breaking up long study blocks. By taking a break from learning new material and quizzing myself on what I’d learnt in a GAMSAT style question, I was able to concentrate for longer.
Overall, I think the most important aspects to any strategy for success for the GAMSAT exam are that the approach is relevant (i.e. that it develops the skills that will be assessed in the exam), and achievable (i.e. it is not so complex or scary that you couldn’t possibly achieve them in the time before the exam). And this is what the above GAMSAT strategy is, simple but effective ways to help you succeed in preparing for and sitting the GAMSAT exam. If you’ve already forgotten, here they are again:
- Know the exam and have a plan
- Read widely, and reflect upon and analyse it
- Know the science basics
- Practice, practice, practice!
If you feel you need extra help to really ace the GAMSAT exam, find more information about GAMSAT Preparation Courses here.