by Elisa G., 08 February, 2019
Preparing for the GAMSAT can be a daunting task, and it can be even more difficult to know where or how to start. Each section requires its own specific preparation, and there’ll no doubt be areas that you’re less confident in compared to others. For some, the biggest challenge is Section III, which is made up of questions relating to Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
The Biology component comprises 40% of GAMSAT Section III, so it’s really important to make sure you’re adequately prepared for this part of the exam.
But have no fear!
If you don’t have a strong Biology background, that’s okay. The GAMSAT is designed to assess your reasoning skills (I mean it’s in the name – ‘Section III - Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences’). So, having a huge bank of biology facts crammed into your brain isn’t necessarily as important as it may seem. With the right kind of preparation and study beforehand, you can broaden your understanding of biology and refine your ability to interpret MCQs enough that on exam day, Section III Biology won’t seem so scary.
If you’re feeling lost and discouraged by the thought of preparing for the Biology component of Section III GAMSAT, I’ve compiled a few tips here on the how and what to study for GAMSAT Biology.
Once you’ve put in place a solid plan for your GAMSAT preparation, and it’s time to study for the Biology component, I would advise that you consider starting with a few practice questions. This may sound strange, especially to those with little or no science background. However, having a proper understanding of what kinds and levels of questions you’ll actually be doing in the exam is absolutely vital if you want to study effectively and efficiently from the get-go. There are a few different structures of questions to get familiar with in Section III, including graphs, tables, diagrams and text.
You can find practice MCQs for Biology in the standard practice materials provided by ACER when you register for the GAMSAT, and even more from GradReady's growing bank of practice materials.
Just remember, you don’t want to spend too long on practice materials before you’ve consolidated your knowledge-base for Biology, so once you have a good idea of how the MCQs work after doing a few practices, it’s time to move onto some good old-fashioned revision (or brand-new learning for those without a science background!).
Along with having a proper understanding of the general format and structure of the Biology MCQs, it’s helpful to know (before you start looking at the subject material) the level of knowledge required for the GAMSAT.
According to ACER, the test involves subject matter that corresponds to a first-year university level understanding in Biology. That is, if you’ve completed first-year uni subjects in Biology, you’ve most likely covered the prerequisite knowledge for GAMSAT Biology.
But what if you haven’t done Biology at uni or even high school at all? Well, thanks to the internet, this is no longer a problem! There are tonnes of resources available for learning Biology on the internet, just make sure your sources are reputable! We’ve linked a few here on our website.
Once you’ve found a good source of information to study Biology, you can begin revising (or learning!). And my number one study tip for this is: study how you study best!
Yes, the GAMSAT is an exam like no other, but utilising techniques that have worked for you in the past (and not worrying about how others around you might be studying better), is the best way to comfortably and effectively learn and consolidate the subject matter if you’re studying on your own. Remember, there is always support as well. Moreover, make sure (especially if the content is new) that you don’t leave it all to the last minute –the GAMSAT is a mammoth exam to prepare for!
This brings me to the next point: you’ll need plenty of time to do practice questions.
As emphasised in the ACER information booklet, there is a focus in the GAMSAT of using your knowledge-base to solve problems. There’s nowhere in the GAMSAT to regurgitate all the facts you’ve memorised so you can show off just how good your brain is at storing information. You actually have to apply and translate the knowledge you’ve gained to interpret and analyse data, deduce relationships, and evaluate and decipher new problems.
Hopefully this doesn’t sound too frightening!
And even if it does, the best way to overcome this is by doing a lot of practice questions. This is the only way you will get the hang of the GAMSAT-style questions, and also one of the best ways to consolidate and memorise Biology facts that you’ve just learnt or revised. I may sound like a broken record, but it really cannot be emphasised enough how important it is to do practice questions regularly.
Eventually, you can also time yourself and complete Biology practice questions in the context of the whole of Section III (in the actual exam, the Biology, chemistry, and physics questions are integrated and not in their own subsections). This will not only test your knowledge, but also your ability to focus under time pressure and endure the lengthy exam.
Whether you’ve done Biology subjects in the past or have no science background at all, there’s a lot to cover when preparing for GAMSAT Biology. However, with the right resources and a structured approach, you can make it to exam day feeling ready to conquer Section III Biology. So, remember to:
Familiarise yourself with the structure and content of the exam
Study the right information from good resources
Practise, practise, practise!