How to Improve GAMSAT Section 1
04 May, 2019
At the time of writing, there are only a few short weeks left until March GAMSAT scores are revealed! Although we are all hoping that our scores will exceed expectations, unfortunately, there is also a chance that we may not get the results we were after. For many students, as most tackling the GAMSAT are from a natural sciences background, sections one and two will be areas where the most marks will be lost. As it is crucial to optimise your scores, especially if you face some disappointment in the next few weeks, it is imperative that you have a suitably serious and studious academic plan on how to improve GAMSAT section 1 and 2 – just as you would for section three. Indeed, I often see students crash on the GAMSAT because they don’t take sections one and two seriously, buying into the widespread disparaging of the humanities, which is a serious mistake (both in the GAMSAT and in life!).
This blog will touch on some areas that you might want to integrate into your study plan to improve your score for section 1. First, it is important to note what exactly section one of the GAMSAT is actually looking for from the candidates, as we should conceptualise each section of the exam as specifically testing certain aspects of a student’s candidacy… not just a form of elaborate torture device. I would suggest that section 1, which contains MCQs in the humanities area, really looks to test your ability to analyse social situations, comprehend human interaction, and understand subtexts and themes in writing. These requirements are a BIG ask, and we often get students who don’t put enough time into these sections… but they are by far the most enjoyable (and important) to improve!
One of the major pieces of advice that I have consistently given to literally thousands of students in order to answer their question how to improve GAMSAT section 1 is to read books
. The bold and underline of the last statement does not give the emphasis that I am trying to illustrate here, so please imagine that I am shaking you back and forth whilst yelling ‘please read more’ for about 42 minutes. It is exceptionally disheartening that so many young people who are looking to get into medicine (and I quote from one of them) “don’t really read books”. You must
read a mountain of books prior to the GAMSAT as a sure-fire way of improving on both sections one and two, AND
, building the analytical comprehension, creativity, and empathy needed to be a successful doctor. You should be engaging with a wide range of texts, by authors from different backgrounds, varying genres, and perusing different methods of outlaying the written word. At the end of this blog, I have provided some example recommendations to read prior to the GAMSAT – but, you can really read anything, and it will benefit you.
Another major point here is that you need to actually engage in practising humanities MCQs. Firstly, this means getting used to the socio-cultural, contextual understanding that is behind cartoons, which means trying to interpret a lot from newspapers, magazines etc; reading poetry, and even interpretation guides, as the instruction of poetry in the Australian educational system is totally, and depressingly, poor; and viewing as many graphs as you can, especially from popularised science journals (such as New Scientist
). Then, it is imperative that you practice MCQs
over and over again, so that you can actively practice deploying the complicated, analytical problem solving required, and sharpening your comprehension and interpretive skills. Just like section three, it is just as important that you seriously practice taking section one MCQs.
To finish, here are the promised reading recommendations to start you off!
: Crime and Punishment (and anything by him, really) – though also a good descriptor of your GAMSAT experience, a wonderful book looking at the psychological torture of murder and guilt.
: Anything by him. The highly developed analytical and descriptive skill of Tolstoy is mesmerising, and you might even see passages from Tolstoy be reproduced in the GAMSAT!
: Paradise Lost/Paradise Regained – two absolutely outstanding epic poems about the fall of Satan from heaven, Adam and Eve, and the temptation of Christ.
: Inferno – the first part of the epic poem, ‘The Divine Comedy’; it’s about the journey of the author through the various depths of Hell.
: Any of his works – Iranian poet who created outstanding works in the 14th century, which still occupy a central place in the lives of Persians today. The Iranian poets from the last 700 or so years are all masters of the art, and are among the best poets who have ever lived and definitely worth your time – unfortunately some of the meaning is lost in the simplification of their language (Farsi) to English.
: Quo Vadis – a love story set during the madness and bloodshed of Nero, and the rise of the Christian faith.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
: Essays, Second Series – includes a range of wonderful short essays from the American classic.
These are but a few recommendations to read – and it would even be worthwhile to purchase the related study books to assist with your early interpretation of the works, or even to get professional advice from an expert tutor such as by enrolling in a GradReady GAMSAT course
. Please, please, please read a lot for the GAMSAT, AND for your life as a future medical practitioner – the profession suffers terribly from a lack of broader knowledge and literary expertise. Hopefully, this article has helped answer your question on how to improve GAMSAT section 1. Simply by reading books, you’re well on your way to improving your section 1 GAMSAT score, but if you feel you need more tips in order to properly prepare for this daunting section, check out our related article How to Study for GAMSAT Section 1