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GAMSAT when to start preparing and how long you need to prepare

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the GAMSAT?

by , 14 November, 2021
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The GAMSAT is a marathon of an exam. Its three very different sections require mastery of many different skills that can only be acquired by spending the time to hone your craft. If you haven’t sat the GAMSAT before, it is good to know how long you should prepare for the GAMSAT, so that you can decide when to sit the exam, and when to start your preparation.
The amount of preparation time required is determined by a variety of factors. The two main factors include the amount of prior knowledge and amount of time spent devoted to other commitments. For example, if you are quite busy and do not have a lot of time to spend studying each day, you will need to begin your preparation relatively early when compared to someone else who might be able to spend a dedicated period of time doing nothing but studying.

It is vital that students ensure they have enough study time to:

(A) Become familiar with the basic level of knowledge required across all the sciences and humanities

(B) Practice plenty of example questions to ensure that they are used to the unique form of problem solving and pattern recognition that the GAMSAT requires

The amount of time required for (A) will vary from student to student. Someone with no background knowledge will need more time to prepare than someone who already has most of the background knowledge and just needs to do some practice questions. It is tempting for students with a sciences background to attempt to skimp on preparation time, hoping that their sciences background will pull them through Section III (which many universities still give more weighting to than the other two sections). Remember, however, that the GAMSAT is as much a test of biological, chemistry, physics, and humanities as it is a test of patience, motivation, and timing. There are many academically brilliant students who have done poorly on the GAMSAT due to a lack of proper preparation, which in some cases is mainly due to insufficient study time, and in some cases is mainly due to ineffective study methods.

I advocate a well-considered approach to preparation, which emphasises effectiveness of study, rather than a huge time commitment. In other words, quality of study time is better than quantity. Sticking your head in a textbook for hours on end, reading the same content repeatedly, is not the most effective use of your study time. Instead, using active study techniques that force you to engage with the material will help it stick better, and will help you apply the information that you are learning. We have an article on passive vs. active learning, which may help you pick up some tips on how to study more effectively. More effective studying = less study time required, which will have a bearing on how early you need to start studying and how long you will need to study for each day. One example of an active study technique is practice questions - these will give you the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to preparing for exam day as they will help you become accustomed to the type of reasoning required in the GAMSAT exam.

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During your preparation, it may also be helpful to reach out to other students who are also studying for the GAMSAT to form a study group, or at least a support resource. You might want to consider teaching courses and online materials that will help you conduct effective study. These may include practice questions, explanatory videos, online forums, and teaching modules (online or in-person) that you can have at your disposal when you start your study proper. You can also refer to How to Prepare for Section 1, How to Prepare for Section 2, and How to Prepare for Section 3 for section-specific advice and guidance. There's further breakdowns for GAMSAT Biology, GAMSAT Chemistry, and GAMSAT Physics available.

While you need sufficient time to study for the GAMSAT, be wary of the temptation to go too hard, too soon. There is a school of thought, which I certainly subscribe to, which states you can easily burn yourself out from starting to study for the GAMSAT too early. I would say that 3-6 months is probably a happy medium for most, but remember to consider your individual circumstances as you may need more or less time depending on your prior abilities and on how much time you have to study each day. Remember that how you study is just as important as how long you study.

You shouldn’t be scared into rushing and frantically starting your substantive GAMSAT-related study now, but you should have one eye to the future. This article has given you several factors to consider when planning your preparation. Hopefully, with adequate preparation, you won’t get stuck in a repetitive cycle of taking GAMSAT, as it is not only expensive but emotionally taxing as well. GradReady will certainly be there for you for your preparatory needs, and there are many online forums where you can reach out to other people sitting the GAMSAT as a source of support and comradery.

To learn more about why you should prepare early for the GAMSAT Exam, check out our article How Hard is the GAMSAT.