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Black GAMSAT Friday…

I saw this date approaching…I, surely not…but of course. Like a crazed vengeful zombie, there it was, that email from ACER, sitting in your inbox, with the date stamp Friday the 13th.

Only the Australia Council for Educational Research (aka ACER, aka creator of GAMSAT, aka the bane of a med-student wanna-be’s life) would be so cruel as to release GAMSAT results on Black Friday!


So here I have 5 tips for those who were LUCKY, and 5 tips for those who were UNLUCKY.

First up,


  1. Cry, scream, punch something (just not someone). It’s been a long, arduous process, you worked so hard and it’s really tough to have that end in disappointment. Then pull yourself together, reassess your life, dig deep and make the decision whether to give it another red hot go, this time with a whole lot more experience under your belt.
  2. Think about what you gained from the process. Now you know what it’s like to do 6 hours of exam in one day, and you know how you reacted under pressure, and whether you need to work on your timing, or question order strategy. Find out how to NOT be another GAMSAT crash test dummy.
  3. Where did you struggle? If you had trouble with all the graphs, or couldn’t do the maths quick enough, you’re not alone. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics when it comes to graphing, and if you have the right approach, you really can get over your fear of maths.
  4. What did you do right? Perhaps you nailed the essay section (because you read this post!) but need to work on your organic chemistry. Check out Organic Chemistry for GAMSAT. Where to start?
  5. If you’re feeling down and out- try not to be too hard on yourself. The GAMSAT is HARD. And super competitive. You did an amazing effort just to make the commitment to sign up for this gawd-awful test and sit through it! Check out our Top 10 tips for GAMSAT to see if there’s anything that might help you, should you decide to give it another shot!


  1. Be super proud!
  2. Call your loved ones and thank them for putting up with you for the last year while you either a) slept with your text book, b) complained at how sadistic the GAMSAT is and how none of it is relevant to getting into med anyway, c) were a human jitterbug for the last 6+ weeks while you waited for the results to come out!
  3.  Have a well deserved party night off! Whether that’s a night out on the town, a romantic dinner for two, or a movie night with popcorn and chocolate. You’ve earned it!
  4. Call a friend who wasn’t so lucky. They probably worked just as hard as you, but it just didn’t come together on the day. We shouldn’t have to remind you not to #GAMSATGLOAT. Send them this article about Why they should embrace winter for GAMSAT study.
  5. If you were a cbsquared student, please get in touch and share the good news! Then you’ll need to start thinking about your interview process and decide what your uni preferences are. Good luck, and well done!

Well done to everyone, and remember to please get in touch if you need any ideas or advice for any stage of your GAMSAT journey.

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The 7 days of GAMSAT

Everyone has their own ideas about the best way to prepare for GAMSAT, but one thing is certain, you can’t do it in a week.

So what do we at cbsquared feel you should be doing in that final week leading up to possibly the most nerve-wracking day of your life?

Here are our recommendations-but please note-we understand that everyone is different and different approaches work for different people. So if you already have your game plan sorted, don’t let us ruffle your feathers.

Above all, don’t take this advice as gospel. Pick and choose these suggestions as they fit into your life, your personality and what has been working for you so far.

Above all, be positive and good luck!

7 days ’till GAMSAT

Ideally this should be the very latest that you complete a practice test. You need to allow time to check it through fully in the days ahead – but also rest and wind down before the big day. If you haven’t already – draw up a plan for study to complete in the week leading up to the exam, and stick to it, to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Remember, you’ve done all you can up until this point, and cramming will not help you or your stress & energy levels leading up to the big day.

6 days ’till GAMSAT

Today you’re beginning your wind-down mode. You should have completed a full day practice test by now, and perhaps today you are doing something much less taxing on the study front, such as working through your answers.

Read through the ACER info booklet and cross check to make sure you understand all the rules and procedures for GAMSAT day. Do a practice commute to the GAMSAT test location if you’ve never been there before, or work out how you are getting there if you’re travelling interstate.

studente medicina
Study burnout: Avoid any of this during the next week!


5 days ’till GAMSAT

Work through some last questions in your weak areas to tidy up your knowledge. Watch Q&A or other current affairs programs to get up to speed on what’s happening around the country and the world and consider various viewpoints on those issues. We suggest only a half days or study (if at all). No late nights up cramming from now to exam day. It’s more important to rest and relax.

4 days ’till GAMSAT

Perhaps write a practice essay and a few more science questions according to your plan. Take a walk and focus on eating healthily and keeping hydrated over the next few days. Work out your strengths and weaknesses and decide on a strategy to stick to once you walk into exam room. It can be really calming to have a plan, and it can help keep you focussed.

  • Will you read through and answer as many questions as possible (in your head) the during reading time? Or will you read through some of the longest stimulus passages?
  • Will you work through the questions in order, or will you attempt all of the Chemistry questions first?
  • Will you fill in the multiple choice answer sheet as you go (recommended that you do this to avoid running out of time at the end-but this is your choice to make) or will you fill it out at the end?
  • Will you do an “equation dump” (write down a bunch of equations that you think might be important to remember) on the paper somewhere the minute you’re allowed to put pen to paper?

Whatever you do-have these questions about your approach resolved now-don’t leave it till the morning of the big day!

3 days ’till GAMSAT

Ideally your last day of study, and only a very light day at that. Avoid panicking or getting overwhelmed with things you don’t know or haven’t had time to study for. There’s nothing you can do about it now, the best thing is to preserve your sense of zen.

Do some exercise to raise your heart rate, make you sweat and boost your endorphins. Imagine you are sweating out all the stress and mental tension that you’ve been accruing over the last few months or more.

2 days ’till GAMSAT

Ideally no study today. If you really want to – limit it to just going over a few questions you’ve already done. Don’t start on anything new. You don’t want to interrupt that calm frame of mind you’re building before the big day. Go for a walk and do some yoga or stretching, especially if you’re feeling a bit sore after the work out from yesterday.

Take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come in the journey to March GAMSAT. The fact that you even launched into this path to give it a go when so many others have thrown it in the “too hard basket”- that deserves recognition and respect.

1 day ’till GAMSAT

Time to really make an effort to relax. If you are itching to keep studying or stressing over the test-go over your strategy and how you plan to travel to your exam location. Eat nutritious and balanced meals and stay hydrated. Take a yoga class (check out, there are plenty of ready made workouts to suit your mood, time frame and yoga ability) read a light novel, meditate and make a big effort to calm your mind.

If you’re at work today – have your lunch outside under a tree. Read a book before bed. Have a chamomile tea. Stay away from screens in the evening. Think positive thoughts and use visualisation to prepare yourself for the big day.

Time for zen.



No turning back now! Take a deep breath, stay focused and positive. You can do this!

For more information about how cbsquared GAMSAT courses can help you achieve your GAMSAT and medical school goals, or just for some guidance and advice about how to kick start your study, please feel free to get in touch.

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Top 5 tips on how to blitz your GAMSAT essays

Be familiar with your texts, whether novels, poems, histories, films or photographs.


1. Keep up with your reading and assessments over the course of the whole year. For some of you, it might already be too late, but for those of you who have been keeping up, I hope this is reassuring, because it really is the most important advice of all.

Humanities subjects are best studied through a prolonged and deep engagement with the texts you have been assigned (whether novels, poems, histories, films or photographs); it’s not something susceptible to cramming at the last minute.

You need to read methodically, ask lots of questions and discuss them with your classmates, teachers, friends and family. Often the books we set for exams are difficult and elusive, but also, with some effort, richly rewarding – that’s why we’re still reading them, sometimes hundreds of years after they have been written.

If you’ve skived off for most of the year and only skimmed the material and relied entirely on Sparknotes and Wikepedia to get through the assessments, then it’s time to play catch-up and get reading now.

2. Don’t prepare by pre-writing all of your essays and memorising them in full, hoping to guess correctly about the questions on the exam. This has unfortunately become something of a common strategy among many high school students today. But the examiners are onto it. You run the risk of guessing incorrectly, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Don’t go memorising full essays

You’re also cheating yourself out of genuinely learning from the material you’re reading and writing about. There is a freshness and incisiveness about an examination answer that a student has tackled when thinking on their feet in the exam room. And you will feel much better – certainly less anxious – walking into that examination room having taken this approach, rather then hoping you’ve memorised the right practice essay.

3. Have some useful quotes in mind for each of your subject areas, but be selective and strategic. Many students worry about having enough quotes to weave into their essays. Here, some memorisation does come in handy – but choose carefully and don’t overdo it. You want to demonstrate your grasp of the text and maximise the impact of your quotations for the sake of your argument.

I’ve heard some pretty amazing stories about how to ensure you can remember them – sniffing rosemary oil as you study and then taking a twig into the exam room; or pasting extracts all over the house, including in the shower, on your bedroom wall and next to the kitchen sink. But here’s my secret tip: go for a walk.

Philosophers have known for millennia that walking and thinking go extremely well together. Why do you think Socrates spent most of his time wandering around the Greek agora? Stuff tends to stick in your mind when you think and walk at the same time – but pay attention to where you’re going!

You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so don’t sit your exam without writing practice.

4. Exercise your writing skills: By all means practise writing essays, but not for the sake of memorising them. Rather, writing practice essays helps to organise your thoughts and limber up your writing “muscles”.

Here is another tip that you might have already figured out for yourself: writing is like physical exercise. You need to train up your writing skills as you would your body for a big race. So get training. And get inspired by reading some great writing before you start each day.

5. Embrace the open-endedness, ambiguity and richness of literature, history and language studies. This is probably the biggest challenge of all – and not everyone can or wants to do this – but perhaps the most rewarding too. Not everything has been said about Othello, though it might feel that way.

The reasons for the decline of Rome seem almost too well known, but the resonance of Roman ideals still matters today in countless ways. The intricacies of ancient Greek, the complexity of French verbs and elusiveness of German syntax require the mastery of seemingly endless rules, but their application still requires flair and creativity. The humanities are, after all, ultimately about what it means to live, feel and think as a human being.

Plan to do your best in your exams and train accordingly. But don’t miss out on the extraordinary journey of ideas, concepts and stories you’ve been on. It will keep you fresh for examination day.

More importantly, it’s what will stay with you long after you’ve finished the exam and much longer than whatever marks you ultimately receive on the day.


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