Surviving the One Exam to Rule Them All – My Top Five Study Tips
26 January, 2017
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So, you’ve decided to sit the GAMSAT® Exam. Hooray! By now you’ve told all your friends, and they’ve given you the crazy looks when you explain that you’ve signed up for yet another exam - and it’s how long?!? Your parents are concerned for your wellbeing. They know this is a vital step for getting into Med School, but this is one doozy of an exam. How will you prepare? Will you survive all this study without pulling your hair out? Here are my Top Five tips for preparing for GAMSAT® Exam. Hopefully they’ll take some of the stress out of studying, and help you nail the Exam to End All Exams!
- Breathe and Plan
GAMSAT® Exam can be incredibly overwhelming. As soon as you sign up you’re bombarded with information from ACER, practice exams, and vague advice on how to study. Not to mention everyone who has ever sat the GAMSAT® Exam has their own opinion on how to study, and are all too keen to share! So before you start panicking, take a step back, make yourself a hot beverage of your choice and start planning. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Break your study into manageable chunks and you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Work out a realistic timetable – how much time can you really devote to studying? Make sure you remember to leave time for you – catch up with friends, stay social and active!
Next, work out what you need to study – look at the different sections in the GAMSAT® Exam and read through those pesky pamphlets so you’re familiar with what the requirements are. Then start to plan out how you’re going to study, and if you need help, you can download our free GAMSAT Study Syllabus. Make your plan realistic, so you’re looking after yourself but also giving yourself the best possible foundations for GAMSAT® Exam day. When I’m studying I like to set up a calendar or a journal, and start at the very last date – usually when the exam is, and work backwards. First put in reminders – ‘Exam Day in 1 week’, ‘1 month’ etc. Then schedule set times for study – say Sunday afternoons, one weeknight evening per week, with increasing frequency the closer you get to the exams – up to several hours every day!
Once you’ve worked out how you’re going to study, you can get really specific with the details of your study sessions – this will help you set goals for your study, and avoid getting bogged down trying to work out which thing to prioritise. Make sure you’re planning on studying the best way for you. For example, I’m known for falling asleep while reading a textbook (just ask my housemates!), so that’s something I avoid when studying – I prefer more involving methods like videos and quizzes. Don’t forget to pencil in some fun things for you to do – as a reward for a solid study session go to the beach, or have some quiet time reading your favourite book!
- READ ALL OF THE THINGS
This is the easiest way to start studying for GAMSAT® Exam, you can do it anywhere, anytime! Be it poetry, opinion pieces, scientific journals, political analysis or even just textbooks, every little bit helps. Particularly for sections 1 and 2, reading improves your vocabulary, increases your awareness of socio-economic and political issues and can help you come up with interesting examples for your essays! Incorporate study into your daily routine – read the paper with breakfast, read blogs at lunch. There are a number of apps that can help with your reading, including ones that send you a poem a day to read! Another pro-tip is to follow newspapers, websites and other sources of information on social media. Their posts will pop up in your newsfeed, prompting you to read while procrastinating! Some of my favourite sources are:
The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/au
The Economist: http://www.economist.com/
The Ethics Centre http://www.ethics.org.au/home
The Guardian, Vox, The Atlantic etc
Essentially though, anything that will broaden your knowledge base and give you interesting things to write about is the way to go! But make sure you’re not just skimming over things. Analyse what the author is saying and form opinions on the content. See if you can write your own GAMSAT® Exam style questions based on what you’ve read, or see if you can incorporate the things you’ve learned into a Section 2 Essay!
- Target Your Study
While it’s all very well deciding to start studying for the GAMSAT® Exam, you need to know what to actually study, and this can be the hardest part of preparing for the exam. Firstly get super-duper familiar with the content of the GAMSAT® Exam. Know all the text types in section 1 and the breakdown of section 3. Work out where your strengths and weaknesses are. Not so good at poetry? Spend extra time reading and analysing poems! Haven’t touched chemistry since high school? Work out which concepts you need a refresher on and get stuck in. Physics is often overlooked, being only 20% of section 3, however you can’t abandon it! Check out our comprehensive guide on GAMSAT Physics: How to Prepare.
- PRACTISE PRACTISE PRACTISE
Once you’ve worked out what to study, when and how, you need to start putting your new knowledge to use. The best way to do this is to PRACTISE PRACTISE PRACTISE. Get your hands on as many practice resources as you can – MCQs and essays. GAMSAT® Exam requires a lot of mental stamina (it’s a LONG exam), so work up to practising under exam conditions – write those essays in under an hour! Don’t dawdle on those MCQs! If you’ve practised like this, exam day will be less gruelling.
But don’t just write the exam, mark it! Really go over the questions you got wrong, see if it was just a simple error or if it’s something you need to learn again. Re-read your essays – are they up to scratch, is there any way I can improve my expression? Use the feedback from your practice exams to really target your study. Not so great on Projectile Motion? Make sure you check out some resources in your next study session! This is where a GAMSAT® Exam preparation course can come in handy. Not only will you get extra resources, and help targeting your weaknesses, but you have the opportunity to get feedback from experts on the GAMSAT® Exam, and in turn put that feedback into practice!
- Form a study group
Study groups are one of my favourite ways to study. Get together with a bunch of friends and some donuts*, and hash out a study plan. You can use these sessions to discuss articles and stories that may come in handy in the Humanities Sections, and bounce essay ideas off each other. The best thing about working with a group is the pooling of knowledge – everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and you can teach each other. Plus you have willing victims to inflict your essays on for feedback – as long as you read theirs in turn!
Other great ways to study with groups is preparing a bank of your own MCQs together, or creating a pool of flashcards using an app such as ANKI – less work, more benefit!
*Donuts are optional. Other suggestions: cake, muffins, fruit.
That’s about it for my top 5 study tips for GAMSAT® Exam. Try to have fun, after all if you succeed at GAMSAT® Exam and get into Medical School, you’ll spend the rest of your life sitting exams – so remember these tips! Good Luck!
For more tips & tricks about the GAMSAT exam and beyond, check out our GAMSAT To Med School Podcast!