What can a GAMSAT tutor do for me?
08 October, 2019
The GAMSAT exam is an extremely difficult and high-pressured event and requires months of preparation. Unfortunately, every year it is getting increasingly more challenging to achieve a score on this test that will allow you to enter medical school, which might lead you to wonder if you need to enlist the help of a GAMSAT tutor. A common story that I like to regale my students with is that in 2009, a year before I took my GAMSAT exam, one of my contemporary colleagues just turned up to the exam, without studying, went home in the lunch break for a ‘couple of beers,’ and returned to finish the test. He ended up scoring in the low 60s, which was enough to get into Griffith University Medical School back then. However, entry scores for medical schools have gone up dramatically since then, and more and more candidates are sitting the GAMSAT test. Thus, it is incumbent that we do all we can to position ourselves most favourably when sitting the GAMSAT exam.
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One potentially helpful intervention that you can arrange for yourself is engaging a tutor, and this blog will address exactly how helpful this could be for you, through a deliberation of the considerations surrounding such a decision. For this purpose, this blog will assume that organising tutorial assistance will be a paid endeavour and will make some comments around the financial aspect of it. There are several considerations to deliberate on before engaging a tutor, and it requires you to firstly have a very good idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie with the content. As most of you should know, there is a certain level of required knowledge necessary for each section in the GAMSAT, whether that be physics, chemistry, biology, or the various subfields of humanities. The question of whether or not you should engage a tutor will be heavily dependent on your comfort with the content.
This is the first consideration, and it is one that you should make early. For example, if you have not studied a subject in school, such as myself, who did not do physics or chemistry, or have just been out of school for a substantial period of time, then hiring a tutor may be something you should seriously consider. This is because, if you are starting out from the baseline with any of these subjects, despite the time you have left leading up to the GAMSAT, it is likely you will not have any idea as to what is important, what is not, and what areas of a subject should take your focus. For example, I had no idea how to study for chemistry or physics (despite completing a Bachelor of Applied Sciences at the time), and literally just read through a textbook from each subject. It was utterly unhelpful and a massive waste of time! I had no direction, no guidance and it put my GAMSAT study back significantly. A tutor can assist you in these initial stages by pointing to the foundational concepts that you should familiarise yourself with first, share resources, and help reiterate knowledge through practice and revision.
Second, and importantly, both time and finances are crucial considerations as to whether to get a tutor or not. The time that you have until the GAMSAT is an important factor here, as if you are getting closer to the exam, and you are struggling to understand content, find direction, or solidify concepts, then it may be very relevant for you to engage a GAMSAT tutor. Further, it will be important to consider time regardless, as you may need to plan tutorial sessions around your regular study schedule, and this will again be very dependent on how far away you are from the test. As many of us who are taking the GAMSAT are already students, the financial aspect will of course be important. It may be that you can only afford to see a tutor once a week or once a fortnight, and then in that case, it will be crucial for you to prepare adequately for tutorial lessons, and have pre-determined questions ready, and content that needs to be addressed.
After these considerations, we need to ask, what exactly can a tutor bring? In terms of the pure content, engaging with a tutor can be highly beneficial to get some more focus in your study, an explanation of key concepts, sharing of resources, and help impose homework deadlines. This latter part is an important part of the tutor’s job, and I would encourage you to stress to your tutor that you need to be pushed in your study! Overall, tutors can help with not only mastering the actual content of the GAMSAT, but also the motivation to continue studying and meeting your goals. If you are most worried purely about the content, then you can engage a content-expert as a tutor (i.e. someone who has not necessarily done the GAMSAT). However, there are some drawbacks with this. As the GAMSAT is a very unique exam, with very unique questions (unlike any other high school or university exam), it can be very beneficial to hire a tutor who has also had practical experience sitting the test. They can advise you on how the questions are structured, give you tips on approaching the actual exam day, and provide other GAMSAT-specific recommendations. Indeed, in my own tutoring career, I have found that students have really appreciated these GAMSAT-specific insights that I bring to my overall content tuition.
These are some of the various considerations that you should take when deciding on whether you should engage a GAMSAT tutor or not, and how to take full advantage of what they have to offer!