How long does it take to prepare for the GAMSAT?
26 March, 2019
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The 2019 March GAMSAT has just by passed us – the culmination of weeks, months, and possibly years of trauma for thousands of medical school applicants throughout the country. Although we've only just survived the 2019 March GAMSAT – the 2019 September GAMSAT
is not too far away, and the 2020 March GAMSAT is on the distant horizon. It's always useful to know the answer to the question: GAMSAT how long to prepare – so you can get a headstart.
However, the relevant question here is: when should I start studying for the GAMSAT?
This is a question of fundamental importance, determined on a variety of factors, as this will largely determine what itineration of this infamous test you will decide to take. There are many students who have completed all of the sciences under examination (biology/chemistry/physics) in high school, and feel that they could simply appear on exam day and sit the GAMSAT – but many have found this a fatal mistake, and, at the very least, some prior preparation is necessary to prevent pretty poor performance.
As background, the GAMSAT is as much a test of biological, chemistry, physics, and humanities knowledge and skill as it is a test of patience, motivation, and timing. I have known hundreds of academically brilliant students who have done poorly on the GAMSAT due to both a lack of proper preparation and a lack of consideration to the other aspects of the GAMSAT, such as the lead-in study time.
It is vital that students ensure they have enough study time to:
Become familiar with the basic level of knowledge required across all the sciences and humanities (the latter is a science!)
Practice plenty of example questions to ensure that they are synced up to the unique form of problem solving and pattern recognition that the GAMSAT requires.
I advocate a well-considered approach to preparation, which emphasises effectiveness of study, rather than a huge time commitment. Indeed, several years ago, when I sat the GAMSAT, I literally put my head in textbooks for four months prior to the GAMSAT and did nothing else for my GAMSAT study. There were no practice questions, no tutoring, no discussion with others. Needless to say, I could have done much, much better in the test. In my attempt, I had prioritised a quantitative amount of study that I thought was needed, not an efficient and effective use of my time. Knowing GAMSAT how long to prepare will help you devise a study plan so you won't make the same mistake.
There is a school of thought, which I certainly prescribe to, which states you can easily over-prepare, over-psych yourself, and burn yourself out from starting to study for the GAMSAT too early. I’m talking about the actual practice of studying, not preparation. I would recommend that starting your substantive study 10-12 months out from the test is probably not a good use of your time, unless you feel that you have absolutely zero background in any of the ‘test areas’ found on the GAMSAT. Especially as the GAMSAT relies more on pattern-recognition, logic, and conceptual understanding, not technical and academic knowledge in these subjects.
There is no better time than the present to start preparing your approach to your GAMSAT studies. You should now start to consider exactly how you want to go about your study towards any of the upcoming GAMSATs, and decide what is required for you – do you need to learn all of the baseline knowledge of the sciences and humanities (requiring a few months of revision, most likely)? Or do you just need to practice a lot of GAMSAT-type questions and essays before the big day (maybe a month or two of revision)? You also need to consider other points such as if you know of any contacts who are also considering attacking the GAMSAT in the future for a prospective 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 – find 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 shouldn’t be scared into rushing and frantically starting your substantive GAMSAT-related study now, but you should have one eye to the future. Now that you know the answer to the question – GAMSAT how long to prepare – it is beneficial to you if you can get through the GAMSAT early on, and you don’t get stuck in a repetitive cycle of taking these tests, as they are not only expensive but emotionally taxing as well. Preparation is the key. GradReady
will certainly be there for you for your preparatory needs, and ensure you reach out to similar GAMSAT’ers 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