Scott: Hi JD…
JD: Hi Scott…
Scott: So, back in “the day” JD, when did you officially start your GAMSAT preparation?
JD: I first began exposing myself to GAMSAT material in my first year of uni. Proper preparation would have started the end of that year (2015) in December, to sit the exam in March 2016…
Scott: And what was your academic background?
JD: I studied a Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. The most helpful thing about the course is it was tailored for people with their minds set on either medicine or research – it emphasised the medical aspect of things (in the latter half of the course, anyway), provided the appropriate prerequisites, and gave me the opportunity to study in different fields using my “breadth”.
Scott: pretty happy with the old “breadth”. May or may not have had some involvement in that but enough about my age… GAMSAT is an arduous journey. Did you have a study mantra?
JD: “Get a 75”. Positive affirmation and just never being happy with where I was at drove me on.
Scott: We’ve all got fears though. What were you scared of?
JD: I’m scared of ever losing the drive that’s gotten me this far (and into medicine). I never want to be that doctor who is too desensitized to empathize, or too ‘busy’ to actually put time and effort into the patients I see. Seeing Medicine as a burden rather than a passion. That’s what I’m scared of.
Scott: When you started your GAMSAT study, how did you feel about the end goal?
JD: Where I’d end up was always uncertain as every step in the process was followed by another; that is, there was always an obstacle to overcome. The end goal also felt so far away, but it was always there. Somehow, the distance didn’t discourage me. I felt motivated and keen to get what I was working towards.
Scott: What was the “one thing” where you look back and think, that had more impact than I realised at the time.
JD: I think just life experience the second time I sat it. I’d done anatomy, physiology and biochemistry all between my first and second sittings, and with the long-term reasoning and conceptual skills developed from there, I was able to do better in S3 of the GAMSAT. And as with every year, my experiences taught me certain ‘life lessons’ and (as cliche as it sounds) enabled me to develop some perspective on life. I think this helped in an unconscious way.
Scott: Deep… At what points did you feel deflated/defeated? How did you respond?
JD: I felt this way at various points during the semester- particularly at peak stress periods when I had to worry about uni, GAMSAT prep, work and volunteering all at once. I’d burn out and just spend most of my time procrastinating/sleeping. I felt that it was something mostly time healed- but it was still necessary for me to kick myself up too. I’d remind myself of several things: “I am so close to the end”, “I’d feel so accomplished if I got this done”, and “If it were easy, anyone could do it.” This is why having a goal is so important – actually being able to visualise where you want to be a few years from now is an incredible source of motivation.
Scott: How did you manage your anxiety levels in the “home stretch”?
JD: The way I managed my anxiety was similar to how I managed my ‘deflated’ phases– it was a matter of reminding myself of why I was there doing what I was doing. More practically, I ensured I had a decent amount of ‘break time’ and tried to practice mindfulness. Gym was a good means of stress release as well. At the ultimate “home stretch”, however, managing my anxiety became a matter of having faith. I’d done all I could do to that moment, and I’d keep going, but whatever was meant to happen would happen and I’d take it as a learning curve.
Scott: What was your biggest barrier to overcome in your study process?
JD: Endurance and time. I’d struggle to sit down and complete a certain number of questions because I’d either get bored or distracted easily. I tried to overcome this by ensuring when I got ‘bored’ I’d jump to another area of study in the GAMSAT, but it was still a problem because I didn’t get much done. Getting things wrong exacerbated this– not only did it mean I needed to spend more time figuring whatever it was out, but I had to deal with the concept of failure. Priorities needed to be made, and that meant I needed to be willing to move on from a question I didn’t 100% understand, as there was an opportunity for progress elsewhere.
Scott: If you could give just one piece of advice to future students, what would it be and why?
JD: The power of the mentality you have going into this exam mustn’t be underestimated. Go into GAMSAT study and the exam itself not wanting to do it again. Worse comes to worst, there is always another ‘chance’– another pathway to where you want to get to. But if you can convince yourself you’re good enough (which you are) to do it sooner rather than later, then you will.
Scott: Mamba mentality there JD I like it. Finally, and most importantly, if you were a meme – which would you be
JD: Roll safe *points to head*