It is an unfortunate fact that many don’t get the marks they would like in the science section of the GAMSAT because they are not prepared.
Here are some helpful tips to help you go from #GAMSAT2GLORY.
So, you’re not a science graduate, or it’s been 10 years since you last studied? So what? Plenty of students have been in the same boat as you and are now medical students. Negativity gets you nowhere, positivity gives you POWER!
2. Be prepared to work hard.
You’ll need more than positivity and talent to succeed. You’ll be working hard as a medical student; don’t expect your preparation for the entrance test to be any different. It is regular, consistent effort that pays off. Science grads-don’t rest on your laurels, the GAMSAT is a different game. Chances are even if you studied Chemistry at University, your knowledge is probably not up to scratch. Let’s cut to the chase, there are no short cuts to doing well in the science section of the GAMSAT. Strategy is only one aspect; you can’t base your entire plan of attack on it.
3. Work out what you need to know.
Download concept lists or summarise the ACER books if you are knowledgeable enough in the sciences to be able to identify the concepts from the questions. If you have a clear idea of what and how much to know, the volume of knowledge required will be much less overwhelming and will make it far easier for you to plan your time and work out what resources you’ll need.
4. Ascertain your strengths & weaknesses.
Are you good at maths? Rote learning? Organic Chemistry? Analysing Graphs? If you’re honest with yourself about this you can use your strengths to your advantage and make sure you spend time improving your weak areas.
5. Work out how much time you’re going to need to prepare.
This will depend on your current work, study & family commitments. Non-science graduates are probably going to need more time than science graduates. Some people pick up concepts quicker than others. Only you can be the judge of this, however we would recommend a good 6 months to really maximise your score. If the GAMSAT is only a month away and you haven’t started your study…think seriously about a long term plan for the following year. Science concepts are best learnt and practiced over a long period of time, rather than cramming. That said, a “practice run” provides invaluable experience.
6. Gather resources.
Textbooks, online videos, preparation courses, official ACER practice materials can all be useful. You just need to work out what will suit you based on your background and learning style. NB: A word of warning about “reading textbooks” and “taking notes”. We see students waste a lot of time reading the text book and taking notes and then going back and highlighting concepts in various fluorescent colours. Heed the Confucius quote: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Focus most of your time on doing questions. If there is something you aren’t understanding, then go back and refer to your resources. Your reading will then be far more targeted and efficient. Of course if you are just starting out, you’ll need to start with basic questions!
7. Make a plan.
Divide up your workload into topics and set a certain amount of topics or concepts to cover every week. Work to cover topics or a set number of questions, rather than saying “I will work for 1 hour”. Be realistic about your goals. Ideally, aim to cover all material and cement all concepts 1-2 months prior to GAMSAT day. Spend the final 1-2 months leading up to the exam working on your *timing, strategy and brushing up on weak areas. (*more on this later)
8. Start with the basics.
Many students find that the official ACER materials and some preparation courses are too difficult at first and can become despondent. Don’t despair. You need to work at it to get to the GAMSAT level. You’ll need to get the basics under control first. The GAMSAT can seem harder than what it actually is due to the language of science. Naming and drawing organic structures, using scientific notation and logs, understanding general scientific terms are all basic concepts that can be applied to more difficult problems. You want these to become second nature. If you don’t have the basics down, then you will find it difficult and time consuming to work through more advanced problems.
9. Don’t avoid maths. Stop using your calculator!
No calculators are allowed in the GAMSAT. So stop using it now. The more you commit yourself to working out problems yourself, rather than with the calculator, the quicker your maths skills will become. Remember, you can write on the GAMSAT question paper, so jotting down some quick calculations & notes can help to keep your thoughts in order and settle your nerves. Don’t try doing long division though! Round numbers up and down as required and use your times tables to quickly multiply and divide large or small numbers. Know the rules of logs and scientific notation.
10. Understand the Beast. Timing, strategy and keeping your nerves under control are all part of the GAMSAT experience. Yes, you need a whole lot of knowledge and science language to do well in section three, but you also need to be able to apply this quickly and under pressure. Practice at least one full GAMSAT paper under test conditions in the weeks leading up to the exam. (Use the official ACER materials). Have a strategy in place BEFORE you head into the exam. Are you going to try to have an educated guess at as many questions as possible? Or will you beeline to the questions that you are most confident with and go back to the other questions?
BONUS TIP! Ok, yes this article is subtitled “10 Ways to Strive for Success in the Science Section”…but we thought you might need a reminder not to get all caught up in the striving part and forget what you’re doing it all for. So our final pearl of wisdom is:
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal. You may never use the knowledge tested in the GAMSAT in your future career in medicine, but there is no doubt all the thinking, studying, learning new things, late nights/early mornings, stress and lack of time that you experienced during your study for the GAMSAT are all going to be things you’ll have to cope with as a med student. So embrace it! Join forces with other GAMSATers to help with motivation. At the same time, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy what you are learning and be proud that you are giving something new a red hot go!
Best of Luck for your GAMSAT Journey.