Applying for medical school is no doubt an arduous journey, and for most people, the greatest hurdle along the way is the dreaded GAMSAT® exam. How hard is the GAMSAT® exam exactly? It’s important to have a good estimate of how hard is the GAMSAT® so you’ll be able to decide on the best approach to prepare for the GAMSAT
Those who have sat this test designed to select intellectually-capable students for the medical profession would probably all agree that, yes, the GAMSAT® is difficult. The GAMSAT® is difficult because it aims to test your reasoning skills, so simply memorising formulas will not work. Plus, the GAMSAT® is mentally and physically challenging because it's a very long exam that could take up your whole day. However, everyone has a different perception of how difficult the exam is, depending not only on innate aptitude, but also on level of preparation leading up to the exam.
So, if you’re thinking of sitting the GAMSAT® but are daunted by its difficulty, I’d like to share with you some of the greatest challenges of preparing for and sitting this notorious exam and how you might overcome them.
Part 1: How Hard is GAMSAT Preparation?
GAMSAT® is a monster of an exam, with three different sections testing quite different skills (reading comprehension, essay writing, and scientific reasoning). It’s important not only to recognise that each of the three sections of the GAMSAT® requires different kinds of preparation, but also to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. For some, the biggest challenge may be acquiring enough scientific knowledge to feel confident in GAMSAT Section 3
, but for others it may be learning how to efficiently structure and write an essay for GAMSAT Section 2
. Inevitably, studying for the GAMSAT® exam will be hard, and it’s always best to keep in mind that you can’t master it all.
Firstly, make sure you set aside enough time to study and start early. For some, this is the most difficult aspect given other life commitments, such as university study or full-time work. It might be a good idea, therefore, to pencil in some study blocks ahead of time, and to structure study around other commitments or events. Cramming is not an option when it comes to the GAMSAT®.
Secondly, study effectively. Whilst the GAMSAT® exam is different to others, sticking to methods that have worked for you in the past can help you prepare much more efficiently. Moreover, it’s not only important to utilise your strengths, but also focusing on areas of weaknesses can help better prepare you for the more dreaded parts of the exam. For this reason, it’s also essential to know what is necessary to prepare for and have a good understanding of what the GAMSAT® exam is really assessing. For starters, the GAMSAT® is becoming less a test of your prior knowledge and more a test of your problem-solving skills, so don’t waste your time memorising details—that time is much better spent working on practice questions to hone your skills!
So, as you can see, preparation isn’t easy but with the right understanding and approach, it’s possible to sit the GAMSAT® exam feeling somewhat confident and ready. The most important part is to practice, practice, practice. ACER provides a free set of practice questions when you register for the GAMSAT®, and they also have other sets of practice questions available for purchase. GradReady’s GAMSAT preparation courses
all come with access to our extensive MCQ bank, which is a great source of practice material. You can also take advantage of resources such as GradReady’s library of Free GAMSAT Practice Questions and Materials
Part 2: How Hard is GAMSAT Exam On the Day?
It’s important to keep in mind that the exam is not only a test of your academic chops, but also of your stamina. The exam itself is spread over a whole day. Therefore, before test day rolls around, it’s important to iron out a strategy for staying alert.
There are multiple strategies for overcoming this issue. First and foremost: practice, practice, practice! If you come on the day having never tried to sit a full day test, you’re probably going to struggle. Therefore, your practice leading up to the exam should involve as many full-length GAMSAT practice tests
as is practicable. That way, while exam day won’t necessarily be easy, you’ll at least be sure that you’ll be able to get through it, as you’ve gotten through it before!
Secondly, it’s important to make the most of the lunch break. Under the current GAMSAT® structure, you will get one hour of break time between Sections 2 and 3. It’s important to take this time to eat some lunch, sit outside, relax, and enjoy the weather. It may be tempting to use this time to cram, but remember that cramming is not going to make a huge difference, especially in an exam that is less about knowledge and more about problem solving skills. Giving your brain a break is, in fact, a better way to ensure you will be refreshed and ready to rumble when you walk back into the venue for Section 3.
Remember, the GAMSAT® exam is designed to test your limits, and there are always going to be difficult aspects for anyone who sits it. However, if you plan and prepare accordingly, you can minimise some of these difficulties, no matter how hard the GAMSAT® is.
If you’ve only become more convinced that it’s just too hard, take a deep breath and remember that, while GAMSAT® is difficult, the difficulty is not insurmountable! Here are few take-home points about surviving GAMSAT®:
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses
- Set aside time and start early
- Study how you study best
- Understand the GAMSAT® exam
- Prepare for a long test day
- Practice, practice, practice!
You now know how hard is the GAMSAT®. If you’re still daunted by the prospect of studying for the GAMSAT®, that’s okay. The GAMSAT® is hard. If it weren’t, it would be purposeless in selecting students who can survive medical school and become competent medical professionals. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to being prepared for the exam, and different people will always find certain aspects of the GAMSAT® more difficult than others. Hopefully, however, you can now see that, just like running a marathon, adequate and effective preparation for the GAMSAT® will make it seem much less daunting and a lot more achievable.
Check out our next blog article, How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the GAMSAT?
to learn more about how much time you should set aside to prepare for this big exam.