GAMSAT Stress Management Strategies
15 February, 2020
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Have you been experiencing GAMSAT stress? It goes without saying that preparing for and sitting the GAMSAT is a stressful time. Not many people make it through the GAMSAT exam
without experiencing some degree of stress, whether it be before, during, or after the actual day.
Of course, when it comes to the GAMSAT, some people are more blessed with a naturally relaxed attitude, and some of us are less fortunate due to our ability to get caught up in it all. Luckily, it isn’t all doom and gloom for those of us who tend to fret more over the mammoth task that is the GAMSAT exam, as I’ve compiled here a bunch of stress management strategies that can really help.
Whilst everyone has their own unique ways of coping with stress and anxiety, there may be some points here that help you feel a little more zen when it comes to the GAMSAT.
I’ve also included a bunch of links at the bottom of the page for anyone who may feel overcome with stress or worry. Seeking help is important and there are a lot of services out there that can help you.
Managing GAMSAT stress before the exam
To start off, many of us find it daunting just thinking about the vast quantity and variety of content the GAMSAT exam covers. This can bring up some pretty negative thoughts in a lot of us, questioning our ability to achieve any amount of success in sitting the GAMSAT. My advice for those who are worrying about the large amount of material covered by the GAMSAT, would be to make sure you read and understand the ACER information booklet
, and also check out this guide
that helps to outline a general strategy for approaching GAMSAT study.
Whilst of course there is a certain level of knowledge in the sciences that is recommended for understanding concepts presented in the GAMSAT, it is widely known that the exam focuses on assessing students’ abilities to synthesise and analyse information presented on the spot. You should, therefore, expect to find yourself answering questions in the GAMSAT about topics that you’ve never heard of.
You can begin to see how stress could quickly build without a proper understanding of the GAMSAT exam. Familiarising yourself with the unfamiliar (and being prepared to face it in the actual exam) by doing practice questions
as often as possible is essential to any GAMSAT study plan.
Secondly, the months leading up to the GAMSAT exam are the perfect time to start enacting some stress-busting strategies. I’ve provided a list here of habits that may help with stress-management and general well-being:
- Eat well – it’s too easy to get carried away with junk food snacks during times of study, but in order to have your brain (and body) operating at peak function, it really is better to stick to nourishing foods.
- Sleep enough – this includes maintaining good sleep habits, like leaving time to wind down at night and trying to sleep at the same times each day.
- Exercise regularly – physical activity, like healthy-eating, is extremely important for maintaining a healthy body and mind during exam study. Moreover, it’s a great excuse to get outside and take your mind off the GAMSAT.
- Talk to someone – whether it’s a friend or family member, or a professional, talking to someone about how you’re feeling can be really helpful during stressful times. I’ve included some links below that may help with this.
- Keep up the fun – whatever this may be for you, making sure you continue to do things that you enjoy outside of uni and study is essential.
- Relaxation techniques – many people hear about these and then try to utilise them at the last minute with little success. Here is a great spreadsheet about different techniques you may want to try. My recommendation would be to try some out early and see what works for you.
- Have perspective – remembering to keep things in perspective, and trying to be your own cheerleader of positive thoughts can sometimes help combat GAMSAT stress overload.
Managing GAMSAT stress during the exam
Strategies for managing stress during the GAMSAT are much like strategies for any stress-inducing exam. The only major difference about the GAMSAT, in my opinion, is its duration. The exam itself is about 5.5 hours long, however, you should expect the whole day (excluding travel time, that is) to take about 9 hours. That’s a long time!
Not only does this make it important to manage stress, but to also make sure you have the right tools to keep your energy levels up.
On the day, make sure to bring enough food (I would recommend healthy and protein-full rather than high-sugar which can lead to serious highs and lows) and caffeine (again, in moderation so as not to send yourself on a rollercoaster of energy levels). Check what services are available at your test centre before you arrive, and logistics such as transport, so you don’t fuel stress levels by arriving late to the exam.
During the actual exam, you may find it helpful to practice slow breathing or other relaxation techniques, such as those described in the link above. I find it helps in the minutes surrounding the exam, such as when they’re handing out or collecting papers.
As I mentioned above, it can be really helpful to keep perspective on what the GAMSAT exam really means. Especially on exam day. It’s important to remember that not everyone who sits the GAMSAT (even multiple times) ends up achieving what they expect. And it is not the be all and end all. If the GAMSAT doesn’t work out, there are other avenues to take in life.
Managing GAMSAT stress after the exam
Ruminating after the exam on aspects you ‘think you may have messed up’ can be really detrimental to your well-being. Whilst reflection is important for future improvement, stressing unnecessarily about the minor details of what may have gone wrong (without actually knowing), is not. I always try and keep a positive mind-set in the first stages after a big exam like the GAMSAT, and only if I receive a sub-optimal result do I (later, when things have cooled off) go and reflect on what I can improve for next time.
Before, during, and even after the GAMSAT exam can all be times marked by significant stress and anxiety, but they also don’t have to be. There are many strategies and resources out there to help manage stress, and I have mentioned only a few here.
Remember if you’re feeling overwhelmed or in need of more help, you can always reach out to someone. I have provided some links below that may help with GAMSAT stress.
Plus, we’ve prepared a GAMSAT Study Syllabus
you can download. Having a solid GAMSAT study plan in place can be the key to managing GAMSAT stress. Our GAMSAT Study Syllabus covers all the areas you need to prepare for, and also helps to organise your study in a way that will allow you to learn all this in an efficient manner.
Exam Stress Techniques: https://headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-reduce-stress-and-prepare-for-exams/
Relaxation Techniques: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/senseability/relaxation-techniques.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Phone: 13 11 14