No no seriously, all jokes aside, stick with me on this one. It’s really important to have a bit of foresight when it comes to GAMSAT preparation so as to avoid finding yourself in a deep pit of overwhelming stress and despair come March. I’ll break it down for you month by month, and then as the timeline approaches the day of the exam, we can look at more specific features to focus on.
October – November (5 – 4 months out)
This far out from the exam day, nobody expects you to be studying properly yet. What they do expect of you though, is to start getting your head around what the GAMSAT is and what it involves. Spend some time researching the ACER format and what the exam looks like. Look into what areas of study are involved in the exam, what you know already, what you know you are good at, and what you think needs either refining or building from scratch.
Once you’ve gotten your head around the exam itself, you would do well to assess how it is that you want to go about studying. Do you just want lots of practice content? Do you want a course that guides you from A – Z? Do you just want individualised tutoring? Then, after pondering this it’s time to move onto the next step. What medium or platform do you think you will best be able to achieve what it is that you want from your GAMSAT studies? This part of the planning process is actually quite hard to decide on.
What are the options?
- You can go down the well worn route and invest your time and energy into smashing out as many practice questions as possible, of which there are three really clear ways to go about it.
- You can get your hands on a Des O’Neill textbook and slowly work your way through all of the “baskets” of question type there. Even though their books haven’t been updated since 2010 and the questions rely quite heavily on prior knowledge, this is definitely a solid way to go about practicing.
- Alternatively you can find other textbooks that teach all of the requisite areas of study all the way through from beginning to end. These are really great if you’ve never studied any of the sciences before as they not only teach you the material, but in classic textbook style have many practice questions related to each topic.
- The other way is to enrol yourself in a preparatory GAMSAT course that provides practice content that is a bit more specific to what the GAMSAT looks like currently. Coincidentally, this is exactly what we do here at Fraser’s! If you’re interested in that idea, you can find our courses through this link.
Conversely, if the route well worn is unappealing to you, then let me introduce you to the route less travelled. It’s a gentle route. Warm and friendly, it enjoys piña coladas and ambling down the beach dusk on golden-red summer’s eve. That is, it’s much more personal than just working through question after question by yourself locked up in your bedroom or tucked away in a uni library corner. Having sat the GAMSAT 6 times, I can tell you with 100% certainty that absolutely nobody will make that piña colada more to your liking, nor amble at just the pace you wish to better than Fraser’s. I have done other courses and while they have their pros and cons, when I invested my time in Fraser’s I saw just how encouraging GAMSAT preparation can be. There are so many more varieties of course structures to suit your needs but that pales in comparison to the tutoring. From bridging classes, to PBL’s, to 1-on-1 tutorials across all sections, tutoring is exactly what Fraser’s takes pride in, and might I just say, with reason! Again, you can check out all of what we offer.
December (3 months out)
Now that you’ve come to terms with how, what, and where you want to do your GAMSAT preparation, this is when you start your light study. Time to get your head in the game. Start ensuring that your knowledge is up to scratch on all the main areas of study and make sure you have a clear understanding of what is required for each section so that it may inform your approach to each area of study. Supplement your knowledge study with practice questions, and your practice questions with knowledge study. In a course, this is where bridging classes come into play. They help those who feel a little left in the dust to engage their rear thrusters and catch up to the others. This far out, I would suggest dedicating about 15 hours a week to study – approx. 3.5 hours on section 1, 3.5 hours on section 2, and about 8 hours on section 3.
January (2 months out)
So now we shift from gear 1 into gear 2 and then progressively gear 3. By this point you should really have your head wrapped around what the GAMSAT is and what you know to be your areas of strengths and weaknesses. Your knowledge and comfort with the themes presented across all the areas of study should be ramping up with the revs of your mind-motor. For the multiple choice questions, start doing some of your practice questions to time so that you can see how well you’re faring. It’s all very well and good to have the knowledge, but if you’re bad at applying it under time constraints, then you have work still to do – but that’s 100% not an issue at this stage.
For section 2, you should now have your structural elements down pat and beginning to see how ideas fit to form with most any theme presented. This is where PBL’ and private tutorials start in our courses at Fraser’s and where I would encourage those of you who are feeling a little more on top of things to start buckling down. You should be looking at a decent 25 hours a week for GAMSAT study around now – approx. 7 hours on section 1, 5 hours on section 2, and about 13 hours on section 3.
February (1 month out)
Shift into gear 4, and now we’re cruising at a very comfortable speed. You should be tying together your knowledge of all the varying themes and summarising your notes on the knowledge study. Your ability to do questions that show a cross-section of different areas of study should be much more adept now eg. understanding torque relating to the musculoskeletal system or a haemoglobin saturation curve based off an acid/base graph. This must also be combined with ensuring that all practice questions are done to time. I repeat, all questions must be done under struct time conditions.
Your section 2 writing should be getting better at responding to the theme presented and starting to finetune the application of your idea frameworks. Start doing the ACER example questions (half length exams) to time in order to test yourself against an ACER standard. At Fraser’s we’ll be winding down the PBL classes and steering ourselves towards mock exam month. Just quietly, mocks exams are one of the most helpful things you can do in all of your studies. They are absolutely the best tool to learn how to strategise your exam approach and they also facilitate a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, both in knowledge and in exam technique. If you want to do more than what you can purchase through ACER, we put heaps of effort into making ours as close to the real thing as possible. I low key reckon that when I was studying for GAMSAT, the Fraser’s mock exam month helped me jump from a 65 to a 70.
Anyway, beyond that your studies should be looking at 30-35 hours a week with approx. 8 hours on section 1, 7 hours on section 2, and about 20 hours on section 3. Obviously these parameters include the time you spend doing practice questions and mock exams. It’s also important to keep in mind that now is about when you should start consolidating your routine leading up to the exam – start regulating your bedtime, when and what you eat each meal, how it all effects you and try to keep it structured to fit what you’ll be doing on the day.
March (3 weeks out)
Stay in gear 4. At this point, your study should have already been fully vamped, and going harder won’t actually yield better results, rather just burn you out. Trust me, I’ve been there trying to juggle 35 hours of GAMSAT study with uni and work and a social life and you refuse to let something give but something’s got to give and then boom you’re in foetal position cradling your favourite teddy bear from when you were 5 and you don’t know which way is up nor down.
But in all seriousness now should be where you feel comfortable answering all types of questions irrespective of area of study, or if not, knowing what you are good at or not so that you can strategise around it. To complement the mock exams, start doing the ACER full practice papers to try and get your head in the ACER necessary mindset, and try to space them out evenly going forward. Your section 2 writing is really getting to about as good as you think it can get to, and you’re writing clear and concise notes on your outcomes of mock exams. Keep on top of your exam technique and gameplay – it’s just as important as knowledge. Stay the course with the same 35 hours a week, or if you feel like you need more you can push it up, however I advise against pushing it too far.
March (1 week out)
Now it’s a matter of ensuring that you are ready for the day itself. Any study that you do at this point is only going to provide minimal gains and might even be more stress than it’s worth at this stage. Obviously keep your skills refined, continue doing practice questions and writing section 2 pieces, but don’t fret if you aren’t getting drastically better, it’s fine. At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do, and freaking yourself out because you can’t get 95/110 on section 3 when you’re the kind of person who normally scores 75/110 (a very good score regardless) is just going to be detrimental to your state of mind.
Make sure you stick to your routine. Ideally you’ve been perfecting your course of action over the past few weeks so that you know how you want to go about when to wake up, when to study, when and what to eat for lunch, same for dinner. Routine forces habit and if you can make the GAMSAT a habit, it will help you through the day as if it were a habitual walk in the park rather than an adrenaline fueled sprint through snake infested long grasses.
The day before.
Take the day off. Get your food, pencil case, and ticket all ready for tomorrow and then just go and enjoy a nice relaxing day. There is almost nothing that you can do in terms of study one day before the exam that will actually make any difference to your results. Your best bet is just to ensure that you’re relaxed, in a good state of mind, and feeling comfortable in yourself, your preparation, and your efforts up until this point.
That exam is yours for the taking. Go and take it. If you ever want help with anything, you know where to find us and if you ever need advice, feel free to get in touch.
Don’t let the GAMSAT scare you. It is a mountain of a task for sure, but it is not one that is insurmountable. You train, you prepare, you conquer. Simple as that!