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GAMSAT Preparation

So, you want to begin your GAMSAT preparation? That’s no simple task and you likely have more questions right now than you do answers – ‘what are the sections assessing?’, ‘how do I practice certain question types’, ‘WHAT AM I DOING?’. We want to stress right now that this is completely normal. See, ACER can be very vague. It can be really difficult to even know what to expect from the exam, let alone determine concrete strategies that will prepare you well before you step into the exam room. That’s where this article intends to step in, as a bridge for you to cross the chasm of ambiguity left by ACER.

The first thing to understand is that the GAMSAT is not merely a content-based exam. While that may seem like an oxymoron, we assure you it isn’t. Rather, success in this arduous exam relies upon a mixture of understanding foundational science (to which end you do need some knowledge of content) and more abstract exercises such as the development of cognitive skills, including critical thinking, logical reasoning, and the general ability to be time-savvy.

Understanding of GAMSAT Exam

The GAMSAT is broken up into three sections, creatively referred to as ‘Section 1’, ‘Section 2’, and ‘Section 3’. Each of these three sections aims to assess a different type of skill – because as noted before, the GAMSAT isn’t so much about what you know as it is about your exam skills.

GAMSAT Section 1

Section 1 is a test of your emotional regulation. The section scrutinises one’s understanding of the world around them in a socio-political, socio-economic, and socio-cultural context. As that may be slightly cryptic, we can go even further into the section and understand it as a test of reading comprehension and a candidate’s ability to justify responses to complex questions. If you’re wondering how this relates to medicine, it’s really quite simple. As a doctor, one must be able to understand complex information and be able to assess interpersonal, social, and political contexts when communicating with patients.

GAMSAT Section 2

Section 2 tests your written communication. Candidates will be given a prompt and must clearly convey their thoughts onto a page, in direct response to the prompt. In section 2, the test is really how effectively one can form complex and nuanced arguments within a limited time frame, and the capacity for the candidate to clearly convey this information to the marker. Doctors need to be able to think on their feet and act under pressure, it is also important that a doctor be able to clearly convey their thoughts and ideas to those around them. This is ultimately what section 2 assesses.

GAMSAT Section 3

Section 3 is a lot more traditional, but no less important to one’s medical aspirations. In fact, while no section matters more than any other and you should spend equal time studying for each, some universities will give a double weighting to section 3. Section 3 will test knowledge of biology, tertiary level chemistry, and grade 12 level physics. A candidate must be able to use this knowledge to critically assess and reason their way through complex questions based on scientific principles.

When should I start studying? How long does it take to study for?

The age old question – ‘when should I begin studying?’. For many candidates the answer is one to two months prior to the exam. Although, typically you’ll find that these individuals are not sitting the GAMSAT for the first time. In fact, many first time candidates don’t study at all. This is not recommended. While the amount and intensity of study is ultimately a question of each individual person and their needs and modes of learning. Fraser’s suggests a 3 month period of study prior to the exam, and it’s GAMSAT prep course is based on this idea. For the March paper, this means your study should begin no later than some time in January, for September, you should endeavour to begin some time in June. A 3 month study period is what we at Fraser’s call ‘comprehensive’, and is plenty enough time for anybody to prepare, regardless of whether they do or do not have a science background.

Will my University subjects be helpful for the GAMSAT?

The question of whether university subjects may be helpful for a candidate looking to sit the GAMSAT is a bit of a tricky one. On the one hand, it would be foolish to suggest that knowledge, no matter its form, would somehow not be useful in one way or another. However, on the other hand, many students, particularly those from science backgrounds, will enter the exam with a false sense of security. To this end, it is important to note that high distinctions in science courses at university do not guarantee a high score on section 3. However, knowledge of topics in physics, foundational chemistry, organic chemistry, and anatomy and organic systems, are undoubtedly a valuable asset for section 3. Ultimately, the point here is that you should use what you know, but you shouldn’t assume that what you know is what you will need to use.

For those from humanities backgrounds, decent or foundational knowledge in topics such as international politics, philosophy, art, history, sociology, etcetera, may be advantageous in section 1 and section 2. But again, simply because you have experience writing elegant prose on the negative social effects of free-market capitalism in Western society, that does not mean you should rest on your laurels.

GAMSAT Section 1 Preparation

Section 1, which assesses reasoning in humanities, is designed to assess your reasoning and comprehension skills with regard to the humanities and social science through 75 multiple-choice questions. Section 1 stimuli are multifaceted and can include both personal and imaginative texts, and may even extend to writing based on exposition and persuasion. Though most stimuli are presented through text, some are likely also to be presented visually through images or even diagrams. Nonetheless, each stimulus is centralised around socio-cultural and interpersonal ideas of society, covering a variety of present and past day issues. Each stimulus has approximately 2 – 6 questions, requiring you to use a range of reasoning skills to complete the 100-minute exam.

Preparing for Section 1 is highly debated in a sense where many people have different opinions on how to prepare. Realistically, there is no ‘content’ to cover for Section 1. Instead, you should aim to have a good understanding of society in the context of politics, economy and culture as Section 1 stems are mostly commentaries on society within these aspects. So luckily all of these things can be found in one easily accessible place – the internet. Google can be your best friend and you should not steer away from simply reading through quality news sources, watching news updates on Youtube, delving into Wikipedia, and otherwise immersing yourself in all things ‘humanity’. You may also benefit from reading complex articles in publications such as the New Yorker, as these will reflect the kind of quality and style of what you may see on the GAMSAT. It can additionally be worthwhile to scrutinise and break-down any caricatures, political satire, or other commentative cartoons found in newspapers and online.

GAMSAT Section 2 Preparation

Section 2, which assesses written communication, will test your ability to develop two pieces of writing under time-pressure. Candidates are granted five minutes reading time before commencing the 60-minute exam comprised of two writing tasks (Task A and Task B). Many candidates will use this reading time to strategically select the comment (or comments) that they plan to respond to, allowing themselves an opportunity to identify the common theme throughout the prompts, as well as developing ideas, plans, or discussion points for their essays. Most individuals will spend approximately 20-25 minutes writing each task, with the remaining 5-10 minutes being used to edit and perfect their work.

Although there is a tendency for many candidates to dismiss section 2, with statements such as ‘it’ll be easy’ or, ‘it’s just an essay’, preparation is key. Writing any kind of essay in 30 minutes is difficult, but when you need to write to a certain theme, and ensure that it is clear yet nuanced and relatable yet insightful, it is clear that the section may be a challenge. Remember that every section is an opportunity to score marks, and should be treated as such when studying. For section 2, practice makes perfect.

You should avoid writing and regurgitating essay templates in favour of practicing actual essay responses. Critique your own work and incorporate these criticisms into your next essays to ensure that you are using and applying your feedback. This should ensure that you are improving each and every time you write.

Last, you should endeavour to immerse yourself in the humanities. Many candidates struggle most with what to write, and a strong knowledge of current political events, philosophical ideas, economic theories, etcetera can be invaluable in forming a nuanced idea that will impress a marker, and doing so quickly. Engage with news, literature, documentaries, and more and you should be in good stead to form some powerful and engaging ideas, despite the time restriction.

GAMSAT Section 3 Preparation

Section 3 assesses reasoning in biological and physical sciences. The first thing candidates often learn about section 3 at the start of their study is the standard percentage breakdown listed by ACER: 1st year university-level Biology (40%), 1st year university-level Chemistry (40%) and year 12 level Physics (20%). The first thing candidates learn about section 3 when they sit it on the exam is that how they interpreted that breakdown during the months preceding the exam can in fact be ‘make or break’. Without intending to give away any spoilers on the myths for each component (trust me, this article is worth the read), the biggest myth surrounding section 3 is that it’s as easy as treating its components like any other high school science or university subject. Students see the percentage breakdown on ACER’s guide and understandably think months of textbook questions and pages of summaries will fill the gaps necessary to smash section 3 out the park. Then the day hits and we realise the background knowledge only provided us with solid sprinting blocks…once the race starts we quickly recognise we never practiced how to actually sprint, how to approach, or how to comprehend the questions. In short, it’s like training to be a boxer by watching Rocky. A more practical approach is necessary in order to truly perform to your full potential in section 3.

Section 3 has 110 questions to be done in 170 minutes, with each stem of information relating to approximately 1 to 6 questions. This article will deep dive into many of the nuances necessary to unpack the dreaded section.

When preparing for S3, first make sure you understand the content before shooting off into the practice questions. That is to say, make sure you are happy with the fundamentals of S3 (organic chemistry, chemistry, biology and physics). You want to watch Rocky a few times to see how he swings, but you need to get into the ring yourself as early as possible if you want to win any fights. We would recommend doing a practice exam and making note of the approach you take – perhaps you flick to the physics questions first and complete them, going to chemistry then biology. Maybe you read the stem first, and then go to the questions to answer them (or the other way around). Perhaps you over-annotate on the stems, and don’t annotate on the questions at all. Test these different strategies and see which one is most effective for you, given how efficient it is in terms of time and accuracy (how many questions you got correct).

What are GAMSAT Prep Courses like?

Fraser’s GAMSAT Tuition offers a number of GAMSAT prep courses that will help you to overcome the ambiguity of the GAMSAT and effectively and thoroughly prepare to sit the exam. Fraser’s has a number of GAMSAT prep courses, including the:

Comprehensive package

The Comprehensive package offers the most out of any GAMSAT prep course. The package includes 12, hour-long private section 2 tutorials, meaning you will have written and received individualised feedback on at least 24 essays by the time you sit the exam. You will also get 10 private tutorials, which may be booked for any section and can be used to cover topics or question types that you personally are finding difficult. You also get 6 mock exams, including analytic data post-exam, strategy weekend, which includes strategy day and ideas day, bridging courses for sections 1, 2, and 3 and cognitive skills, and PBL classes for sections 1, 2, and 3. Outside of the teaching content, you will gain access to Fraser’s online question bank, online theory content and the ‘Atlas’ which includes information on 200+ topics across all three sections, and 1000+ questions and video answers for sections 1 and 3.
Here’s all of that in a list form for clarity:
• Student Experience Manager
• 10 private tutorials
• 12 private S2 essay tutorials
• 6 mock exams + analytics
• Strategy weekend (Strategy and Ideas day)
• Section 1, 2, 3 PBL classes
• Section 1, 2, 3 and cognitive bridging course classes
• Online Question Bank
• Online theory content
• Online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3)

Concentrated package

The Concentrated package is also offered by Fraser’s GAMSAT Tuition and includes 8 private section 2 tutorials, meaning 16 essays with personalised feedback, 2 private tutorials on topics of your choosing, 4 mock exams including post-exam analytics, strategy weekend (strategy and ideas day), bridging course classes for sections 1 and 2, PBL classes for section 1, 2, and 3, and access to the online question bank, online theory content, and the complete Fraser’s Atlas (200+ Topics Across All three Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3).
Here’s the list:
• 3 private tutorials
• 8 private S2 essay tutorials
• 4 mock exams + analytics
• Strategy weekend (Strategy and Ideas day)
• Section 1, 2, 3 PBL classes
• Section 1, 2 bridging course classes
• Online Question Bank
• Online theory content
• Online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 • Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3)

Blueprint package

The Blueprint package is for those who aren’t looking for private GAMSAT tutoring but would still like some guidance and access to prep resources and prep materials for the GAMSAT. With the Blueprint package, you get access to the online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3), 4 in-person mock exams with full post-exam analytics, and the strategy weekend (strategy day and ideas day).
Here’s the list:
• Online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3)
• 4 x In-Person Mock Exams with Analysis Reporting (Predicted Score, Scored Essays, Video Answers)
• Strategy Day & Idea Day (2 Full Day Workshops)

Blueprint package + Essay Tutorials

The Blueprint package with essay tutorials is just how it sounds. Essentially, you get everything you do in the Blueprint package, i.e. strategy weekend (strategy day, ideas day), the 4 in-person mock exams, and the online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3). However, you also get access to 16 marked essays (8 for Task A and 8 for Task B) and 8 hours of private essay tutoring across 8 separate sessions.
Here’s the list:
• Online Atlas (200+ Topics Across All 3 Sections, 1000+ Questions, Video Answers, S1 & 3)
• 4 x In-Person Mock Exams with Analysis Reporting (Predicted Score, Scored Essays, Video Answers)
• Strategy Day & Idea Day (2 Full Day Workshops)
• 8 x 1 hour private essay tutorials
• 16 x marked essays

Learn More About Fraser’s Packages

Fraser’s Free Resources

GAMSAT Blog articles

Blogs can be a great way to get the down-low on all the hot-and-new information relating to the GAMSAT, as well as key insights into the GAMSAT trajectory and where it is heading next. While such things aren’t related to the particular questions on a particular exam, having an idea of where the GAMSAT is anticipated to head and of what you should expect is never a bad thing. All GAMSAT prep is good GAMSAT prep. Go to see Fraser’s Blog

The GAMSAT Podcast Channel

If you don’t feel like reading, why not listen to a podcast with some of our leading tutors in the GAMSAT space? The podcast covers a range of topics from medical school interviews, how to prepare, how to improve your marks, etc. It’s also a great way to get to know our incredible tutors! The podcast is the perfect study resource for those days that you don’t feel like actively studying but still want to make progress. Subscribe to The GAMSAT Podcast channel or go to this page to see all the episodes.

Tools

There are numerous tools on the Fraser’s website for you to use. While some are directly tied into your GAMSAT prep, others are more closely aligned with questions of how to get into med school, what med school you may wish to go to, and even practical tools such as a GPA calculator to make your life easier when figuring out what you need for a certain med school.

• Section 2 Quote Generator: The section 2 Quote Generator is exactly what it sounds like. Simply select ‘Task A’ or ‘Task B’ and you will be presented with a list of themes. Clicking on any of the given themes will then take you to a page with quotes on those themes. It can be a great resource to practice section 2 essays and test your ideas at home.

• Online Practice TestPractice makes perfect and online practice tests make practice easy. Simply sit down somewhere quiet and begin filling out questions.

How to Prepare for Medical Interviews

There are two types of medical school interviews, MMI or panel interviews. MMIs are becoming an increasingly popular choice of interview style for medical schools. Let’s take a look at the particulars of each type:

MMI – Mini Multiple Interview

MMIs are structured interviews that address different scenarios or questions relating to the candidate. You will usually be interviewed by one or two assessors and may be asked to run through 6-8 ‘stations’ over the course of anywhere between 30-50 minutes total. The specifics here vary based on which medical school you are interviewing at. You are likely to be asked questions designed to assess your behaviour and moral compass, motivations and how you would respond to ethical scenarios.

Non – MMI – Panel Interviews

Panel interviews are less structured than MMIs, wherein panel interviews will ask you multiple questions with four-five assessors present. The aim of the panel interview is more conversational, really allowing the assessors to ask nuance questions to the interviewee. Interviewers will ask you questions relating to yourself, your motivation, potentially some ethical scenarios for you to address and questions relating to your behaviour and morality.

Using the GAMSAT to apply for Postgraduate Medicine in Australia

There are three other medical schools that offer graduate entry medical programs, but are not part of GEMSAS such as the University of Sydney, Flinders University and Monash University that require the GAMSAT. As mentioned earlier, GEMSAS requires you to submit a single online application and a preference list of up to six medical schools. Undergraduate degree transcripts will be transferred electronically if your university is a participant of the Automatic Results Transfer System (ARTS). A computer algorithm will match you to interview allocations based on eligibility and ranking within the applicant cohort using individual selection rules specific to each medical school. Interview scores are standardised and incorporated into the system which then follows a second computer matching algorithm to allocate offers based on overall performance and preference. More details can be found on GEMSAS webpage here.

It is important to note that every domestic medical application through GEMSAS must have a valid score in the GAMSAT in order to be considered for admission into any graduate-entry medical program. GAMSAT scores are valid for 2 years following the test date. This means that if you sat the test in March of 2019, your score is valid to apply for schools in May of 2019 (for 2020 intake), and also the year after in May 2020 (for 2021 intake). If you are to gain a GAMSAT score in September of 2019, the score will be valid for applications in May 2020 (for 2021 intake) and the year after in May 2021 (for 2022 intake).

Well – now you’re up to speed on all things GAMSATand should be well-placed to begin your next (3 months) of preparation. We wish you the best of luck and hope that you find value in our blogs, podcast, and online tools.

 

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