My GAMSAT experience, March 2019 - WARNING, LONG POST! Watch

Tomtherabbit
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Hi guys. This is going to be a pretty long post, so I'm sorry. I sat the GAMSAT in Dublin in March 2019 and scored 66 overall (60, 73, 66). I promised myself that if I got a decent score I would make a post about my experience to help others: what materials I used, how I approached studying etc.

I am an average guy of, I assume, average intelligence. I hope that you can use my experience as a good example of what a ‘normal’ person can achieve.

I’ve also included my results from various sample tests that I sat, so you can compare yourself to them and maybe even gain a bit of insight into how you might perform yourself on exam day.

*Intro, about me etc.*

I had intended to sit the GAMSAT in March 2018, but unfortunately I had a huge commitment already on the exam day that I couldn’t get out of, and so I decided to go for the following March. I thought I may as well give myself the extra year to study instead of going for the September option six months away. I’d have no choice but to start uni in September 2019 anyway.

I’m from an arts background. I did a pretty tough arts degree in an English university (although I’m fully Irish, from Dublin) in which we had to write on average 3-4 essays each week. Yep, each WEEK! This meant that, for me, Section II of the GAMSAT was the section that worried me least. I was terrified of Section III however. I have zero science knowledge, other than really basic stuff from my couple of half-assed years doing chemistry at secondary school. I hated it. My focus for the GAMSAT was therefore very much on science, and getting myself up to scratch for Section III. I knew that to start looking at past papers before I had a reasonable grounding in science would have been a waste of past papers, so I set about learning sciency stuff.

*Study resources*

My basic science crash course consisted of:

* Khan Academy - if you don’t know what this is, give it a Google. Massively helpful, and I imagine it will remain a great source of knowledge even as I start my medical degree.

* ‘For Dummies’ books - chemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry essentials, biochemistry, physics, biology. I found some of these books, despite the title of the series from which they come, actually quite difficult. Particularly the chemistry. My advice is to take your time - don’t worry about learning formulas etc., just get your head around the concepts. This is so important.

* Letts ‘AS’ and ‘A2 in a week’ books - these books were very much more approachable than the stuff you might find online. If you’re struggling with understanding concepts, I found that these books were a good place to start. Concise and clear.

Once I had brought myself up to scratch on the science part of the exam I set out practising. For this I used a combination of:

1. Des O’ Neill’s material (mainly)

2. Griffith’s GAMSAT Review

3. Random Ozimed practice material that I could find online

*1. Des O’ Neill*

This is a massive, massive resource. I’m proud to say that, over the course of a few months, I did manage to complete all of the practice questions AND all of the practice tests. I did about 4 pages each day (and corrected them) of science and humanities questions and then, once I was closer to the exam, started doing the practice tests as well.

The practice questions are hugely useful. In general, I found a lot of them to be WAY harder than the sample material published by ACER. This was particularly the case with the science questions, which in the Des O’ Neill leaned very heavily towards organic chemistry. I suspect also that the Des O’ Neill was written in the days where calculators were allowed in the GAMSAT, as some of the calculations required in the practice questions and tests were quite demanding - and there were lots of calculations. I believe I was using a fairly old copy of the DON though, so things may have been updated since.

I will say however that a source of indescribable frustration was the realisation that some of the given answer keys were incorrect at various points throughout the sample questions. More frustrating still were the questions, particularly in S1, for which I suspected the answer key was incorrect but for which I had no way of checking. This was disheartening.

The Des O’ Neill sample tests were a brilliant resource, although a few things need to be noted. Firstly, the science papers are very organic-heavy. And some of these orgo questions were HARD. There were also more physics questions in the DO’N than in the actual GAMSAT. Overall, the level of difficulty of the subject matter in the DO’N science tests was above and beyond that of the GAMSAT. However, while the subject matter was generally more difficult, the real GAMSAT questions can often be harder questions, just on more basic topics. I hope that makes sense.

Secondly, the individual tests actually vary massively with the types of questions they ask. For example, one paper was very heavy on the biochemistry flowchart style questions, while another included almost none, instead being very heavy on calculations. Also, there is at least one DO’N sample paper that doesn’t ask anything about pH, as well as some other GAMSAT favourites. It is therefore a bit frustrating at time when your score between tests fluctuates as a result of the types of questions asked. This can give you the impression, wrongly, of getting better (or worse) when in fact you haven’t changed.

*Griffith’s GAMSAT review*

For some reason, having read all of his Review, I get the impression that I would really like Peter Griffiths as a person. His book/publication is easy to read and down to earth.

There is a section on all of the universities which have a GEM programme, and what the most recent GAMSAT cutoff was. In some cases he even expands on this with info such as ‘in 2018, all applicants with a GAMSAT score of 60 and above were offered a place to this university’ etc… This is extremely useful, as most universities don’t have this info on their website. At best, they might provide a GAMSAT score range.

The Griffith’s sample test was unfortunately pretty bad. It was a bit sloppily written and quite unlike the ACER papers, to which I had become accustomed at this stage. Section 3 was particularly bad, with WAY too much recall required and, in addition, the questions seemed as if they were written by somebody with only rudimentary English - lots of bad grammar and omitted prepositions, which in some cases made the question impossible to understand, particularly given the time constraints. The word ‘is’, for example, was often omitted by accident from questions. The Griffith’s sample Section 1 seemed to make it’s questions difficult to answer by making the 4 possible solutions so similar and so equally credible (to the point where more than 2 were often irrefutably correct) that it became less likely that you’d pick the correct one. Instead, the paper should have aimed to ask intelligent questions which required a level of lateral thinking and creativity to decipher. These sample tests were free however. You get what you pay for.

*Random Ozimed stuff*

I worked on any OZIMED questions and sample tests I could find online. What I found was of a pretty poor quality if I’m honest, and seemed to miss the mark with regard to the actual standard and content of questions published by ACER. I did noticeably better in the Ozimed sample test 4 than in the DON tests, which I deem to be of a much higher quality.

*My sample test results*

Now to the juicy stuff.

Here are two graphs which show the results I got in the various sample papers I took - I know, lame... In total I sat 9 sample exams under exam conditions. If I hadn’t done so many sample tests, I honestly think my result on the day would have been a lot worse. I had no issues with timing the real exam, for example, which seems to be a problem for most people. You’ll see that my score for the Griffith’s paper was very bad in both cases. As I said, I don’t think this was a very good sample paper.

Name:  Humanities GAMSAT results.png
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Name:  Science GAMSAT results.png
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I also completed the two ACER essay papers, with automatic online scoring, receiving for both an estimated GAMSAT score of 69-72 each.

Take from the scores what you will. You’ll see that, despite studying the relevant weak spots after each exam, my results didn’t really trend towards any noticeable improvement. This was at least in part due to the fact that the DON tests were sometimes very different in content from test to test. Topics that I brushed up on after test 3 didn’t come up on test 4 at all for example. Don’t be disheartened.

I compared my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ papers to others using the ‘GAMSAT Score Estimator’, by Robert McLeay which although somewhat dubious does at least give your scores a bit of context. You’ll see that my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ test, while appearing bad at first, compare reasonably well to my peers. My estimated score, taking into account both ACER papers, was 64. This was impressively accurate in the end.

*My experience on the day of the GAMSAT*

I had a great paper one, or so I felt at the time. There were even questions about extracts from books that I had recently read on the paper! I was generally certain of my answers and finished with 10 minutes to spare.

Paper two went very well also. Topics were, broadly speaking, A: importance of respect and trust, particular for one’s government and B: we are too stressed these days, we all need to be happier etc.

As a side note: I can't understand why many think that watching the news/current events is good for paper 2. They are obviously not looking for facts and figures, but for a written response that demonstrates your level of written communication skills. Insomuch as watching the news might give you an idea or perspective for a specific subject area it may be useful. But, for example, writing about the importance of trust and respect for those in positions of authority doesn’t require you to be clued up on Trump’s current foreign policies, neither I suspect will you have time in the exam to go into such detail. Think of it as you might think of a driving test: you’re not going to be asked about the inner workings of a gear box, or any other theoretical specifics, but you will need to demonstrate practical ability and a certain level of proficiency in driving the vehicle. Likewise, in paper 2, it is so much more important that you are simply able to convey your opinion in an eloquent and clear manner, demonstrating that you are capable of expressing yourself well.

Paper III. This was weird. None of what I was led to believe was typical of GAMSAT questions (and what I had spent the last considerable chunk of time studying) actually came up. There was no pH, no buoyancy, no lenses, no Hardy-Weinberg, very little rates of reaction, no nuclear decay, no sound/decibels to name just a few. It was very odd. Reading the GAMSAT subreddit afterwards, it seemed like everybody was in the same boat. Section 3 in March 2019 was apparently a weird one.

*Results*

The results came out on Friday 10th May early in the morning, and as I said earlier I scored a 66 overall. I was surprised at my section 1 result, 60, as I had been expecting this to be my strongest paper. This probably just meant that the rest of the cohort that day did quite well in paper 1. Remember, if you feel that the test was particularly difficult, then everybody else probably felt so as well. Since the GAMSAT scores are reckoned by taking into account how well individuals performed in relation to eachother, the fact that you found the exam difficult is unimportant if everybody also felt that way!

One thing I can certainly take from my GAMSAT experience is that it is impossible to tell how well you’ve done until the results come out. I was expecting (and hoping for) a mark anywhere between 59-63ish. I was expecting my section 1 to be strong, which is wasn’t particularly, and my section 3 to be weak, which was also not the case.

My results, roughly, correspond to the following percentile ranges for the March 2019 cohort:

Section 1, 60: 60th percentile
Section 2, 73: 98th percentile
Section 3, 66: 88th percentile
Over all, 66: 88th percentile

These percentiles are for the overall score however so may not correspond to the percentile groups for the individual papers. The individual percentile graphs for each paper are not published by ACER.

I’m extremely happy over all. Having expected to just scrape by, if even, I am delighted to have secured a mark that will (fingers crossed) get me into university.

I hope that what I've written is helpful to some people out there, at least in some way. I know first hand that the whole thing can be a bit daunting, and that it's hard to know if you stand any chance at all in the middle of the whole process. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I hope I can answer some of them before I forget about this post over the next few months (as I inevitably will) and move on with my life
Last edited by Tomtherabbit; 1 month ago
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marnalarn
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Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I'm sitting it this September so it's really helpful to hear.
I have extremely limited funds so I was wondering where you managed to get your resources? Particularly interested in Griffith's review, Des O'Neill, Dummies books and possible Khan Academy if it's as useful as you say!
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Tomtherabbit
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Hey!

I was on a very limited budget as well. I managed to find the DO’N online somewhere - to buy it new is very expensive, but to buy it ‘second hand’ is often way cheaper, depending on the seller. Of course, this is not strictly legal, so I can’t endorse this method... Check our eBay, any ‘buy and sell’ websites in your country, forums.

The Griffith’s review costs something in the region of 30GBP I think, and as it’s updated every year to reflect the feedback received on the previous GAMSAT session, I recommend buying this above the table. It was very useful.

I bought all of my Dummy books new, from the Book Depository. They’re about 10GBP each. I knew that if I had spent a bit of money on them I’d be more likely to use them and appreciate their value. This turned out to be true! They’re brilliant, especially the physics, chemistry and biochemistry books.

Khan academy was brilliant for explaining concepts, and was very helpful for physics particularly. As you’re watching, make sure you’re 100% present and attentive, and don’t zone out! Focus on absorbing and assimilating the information, it saves lots of time in the long run.

If you struggle to find materials at a price that works for you, you are of course free to ask on the GAMSAT subreddit - lots of people post there about getting their hands on DO’N, and are often helped out by the other users.
(Original post by marnalarn)
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I'm sitting it this September so it's really helpful to hear.
I have extremely limited funds so I was wondering where you managed to get your resources? Particularly interested in Griffith's review, Des O'Neill, Dummies books and possible Khan Academy if it's as useful as you say!
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marnalarn
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Thanks so much for replying
I think I've managed to find a 'pack' with a variety of sources in on eBay so we'll see how that goes...
I've heard mixed reviews about how useful the Griffith's book is but I probably should fork out. Just feels like a waste of money if there's no content to learn from it, you know? But I guess the tips will be helpful.

How do you know which Dummies books to get? I have bio (2nd edition, 2010), organic chemistry (2nd edition, 2014) and essential physics (2010 ed.). There's a lot of different ones, biochem for example, and loads of different editions. Do you know which ones are necessary? And do they need to be the latest editions?

Thanks again
(Original post by Tomtherabbit)
Hey!

I was on a very limited budget as well. I managed to find the DO’N online somewhere - to buy it new is very expensive, but to buy it ‘second hand’ is often way cheaper, depending on the seller. Of course, this is not strictly legal, so I can’t endorse this method... Check our eBay, any ‘buy and sell’ websites in your country, forums.

The Griffith’s review costs something in the region of 30GBP I think, and as it’s updated every year to reflect the feedback received on the previous GAMSAT session, I recommend buying this above the table. It was very useful.

I bought all of my Dummy books new, from the Book Depository. They’re about 10GBP each. I knew that if I had spent a bit of money on them I’d be more likely to use them and appreciate their value. This turned out to be true! They’re brilliant, especially the physics, chemistry and biochemistry books.

Khan academy was brilliant for explaining concepts, and was very helpful for physics particularly. As you’re watching, make sure you’re 100% present and attentive, and don’t zone out! Focus on absorbing and assimilating the information, it saves lots of time in the long run.

If you struggle to find materials at a price that works for you, you are of course free to ask on the GAMSAT subreddit - lots of people post there about getting their hands on DO’N, and are often helped out by the other users.
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Tomtherabbit
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I think the Griffiths book is useful, very much so, but not really as a study material. It gives a very clear and down-to-earth description of the whole process, individual university entrance requirement and (amazingly) a list of the topics to study for the exam. I used this list right up until the week of my exam. He also includes a list of all the formulae that would be useful to know, among other things.

That’s great that you have those Dummies books. I found the organic chemistry one to be a bit dense in places - the most important thing for GAMSAT is to be able to identify the IUPAC names of molecules, as it’s a skill that works its way into many different questions in the exam. Some questions just straight up ask you to identify molecules, and they can be quite hard! If you need to brush up, hands down the best book is the Practice Makes Perfect Organic Chemistry book by De Wayne and Greenbowe. It covers absolutely everything, getting gradually more difficult as the book goes on with masses of practice qs. It got me from 0% to GAMSAT level, and it has a no-bs sort of vibe about it. Amazing book.

I would recommend the Dummies biochem book (some of the content does overlap with the Dummies Bio book). The edition doesn’t matter so much, as the corrections between editions seem to be very small. But, of course, the more recent the better! The editions you have will be absolutely fine. You might find you want to get the Physics 1 book after a while, but probably could get away with not having physics 2 (i forget what the contents are of that one). To my knowledge, there is also now Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 books - but I’m sure your 2014 edition will be fine. The normal Chemistry Dummies book was useful, as it included info on gas laws and pH etc. You can always check out the contents of these books on amazon with the ‘look inside’ feature, and compare it to what Griffith’s recommends.


(Original post by marnalarn)
Thanks so much for replying
I think I've managed to find a 'pack' with a variety of sources in on eBay so we'll see how that goes...
I've heard mixed reviews about how useful the Griffith's book is but I probably should fork out. Just feels like a waste of money if there's no content to learn from it, you know? But I guess the tips will be helpful.

How do you know which Dummies books to get? I have bio (2nd edition, 2010), organic chemistry (2nd edition, 2014) and essential physics (2010 ed.). There's a lot of different ones, biochem for example, and loads of different editions. Do you know which ones are necessary? And do they need to be the latest editions?

Thanks again
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marnalarn
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Okay, I'll definitely get the Griffiths Review.
You've been super helpful. Thank you!

Just out of curiosity, where will you be applying in October?

(Original post by Tomtherabbit)
I think the Griffiths book is useful, very much so, but not really as a study material. It gives a very clear and down-to-earth description of the whole process, individual university entrance requirement and (amazingly) a list of the topics to study for the exam. I used this list right up until the week of my exam. He also includes a list of all the formulae that would be useful to know, among other things.

That’s great that you have those Dummies books. I found the organic chemistry one to be a bit dense in places - the most important thing for GAMSAT is to be able to identify the IUPAC names of molecules, as it’s a skill that works its way into many different questions in the exam. Some questions just straight up ask you to identify molecules, and they can be quite hard! If you need to brush up, hands down the best book is the Practice Makes Perfect Organic Chemistry book by De Wayne and Greenbowe. It covers absolutely everything, getting gradually more difficult as the book goes on with masses of practice qs. It got me from 0% to GAMSAT level, and it has a no-bs sort of vibe about it. Amazing book.

I would recommend the Dummies biochem book (some of the content does overlap with the Dummies Bio book). The edition doesn’t matter so much, as the corrections between editions seem to be very small. But, of course, the more recent the better! The editions you have will be absolutely fine. You might find you want to get the Physics 1 book after a while, but probably could get away with not having physics 2 (i forget what the contents are of that one). To my knowledge, there is also now Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 books - but I’m sure your 2014 edition will be fine. The normal Chemistry Dummies book was useful, as it included info on gas laws and pH etc. You can always check out the contents of these books on amazon with the ‘look inside’ feature, and compare it to what Griffith’s recommends.
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ltsmith
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(Original post by Tomtherabbit)
Hi guys. This is going to be a pretty long post, so I'm sorry. I sat the GAMSAT in Dublin in March 2019 and scored 66 overall (60, 73, 66). I promised myself that if I got a decent score I would make a post about my experience to help others: what materials I used, how I approached studying etc.

I am an average guy of, I assume, average intelligence. I hope that you can use my experience as a good example of what a ‘normal’ person can achieve.

I’ve also included my results from various sample tests that I sat, so you can compare yourself to them and maybe even gain a bit of insight into how you might perform yourself on exam day.

*Intro, about me etc.*

I had intended to sit the GAMSAT in March 2018, but unfortunately I had a huge commitment already on the exam day that I couldn’t get out of, and so I decided to go for the following March. I thought I may as well give myself the extra year to study instead of going for the September option six months away. I’d have no choice but to start uni in September 2019 anyway.

I’m from an arts background. I did a pretty tough arts degree in an English university (although I’m fully Irish, from Dublin) in which we had to write on average 3-4 essays each week. Yep, each WEEK! This meant that, for me, Section II of the GAMSAT was the section that worried me least. I was terrified of Section III however. I have zero science knowledge, other than really basic stuff from my couple of half-assed years doing chemistry at secondary school. I hated it. My focus for the GAMSAT was therefore very much on science, and getting myself up to scratch for Section III. I knew that to start looking at past papers before I had a reasonable grounding in science would have been a waste of past papers, so I set about learning sciency stuff.

*Study resources*

My basic science crash course consisted of:

* Khan Academy - if you don’t know what this is, give it a Google. Massively helpful, and I imagine it will remain a great source of knowledge even as I start my medical degree.

* ‘For Dummies’ books - chemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry essentials, biochemistry, physics, biology. I found some of these books, despite the title of the series from which they come, actually quite difficult. Particularly the chemistry. My advice is to take your time - don’t worry about learning formulas etc., just get your head around the concepts. This is so important.

* Letts ‘AS’ and ‘A2 in a week’ books - these books were very much more approachable than the stuff you might find online. If you’re struggling with understanding concepts, I found that these books were a good place to start. Concise and clear.

Once I had brought myself up to scratch on the science part of the exam I set out practising. For this I used a combination of:

1. Des O’ Neill’s material (mainly)

2. Griffith’s GAMSAT Review

3. Random Ozimed practice material that I could find online

*1. Des O’ Neill*

This is a massive, massive resource. I’m proud to say that, over the course of a few months, I did manage to complete all of the practice questions AND all of the practice tests. I did about 4 pages each day (and corrected them) of science and humanities questions and then, once I was closer to the exam, started doing the practice tests as well.

The practice questions are hugely useful. In general, I found a lot of them to be WAY harder than the sample material published by ACER. This was particularly the case with the science questions, which in the Des O’ Neill leaned very heavily towards organic chemistry. I suspect also that the Des O’ Neill was written in the days where calculators were allowed in the GAMSAT, as some of the calculations required in the practice questions and tests were quite demanding - and there were lots of calculations. I believe I was using a fairly old copy of the DON though, so things may have been updated since.

I will say however that a source of indescribable frustration was the realisation that some of the given answer keys were incorrect at various points throughout the sample questions. More frustrating still were the questions, particularly in S1, for which I suspected the answer key was incorrect but for which I had no way of checking. This was disheartening.

The Des O’ Neill sample tests were a brilliant resource, although a few things need to be noted. Firstly, the science papers are very organic-heavy. And some of these orgo questions were HARD. There were also more physics questions in the DO’N than in the actual GAMSAT. Overall, the level of difficulty of the subject matter in the DO’N science tests was above and beyond that of the GAMSAT. However, while the subject matter was generally more difficult, the real GAMSAT questions can often be harder questions, just on more basic topics. I hope that makes sense.

Secondly, the individual tests actually vary massively with the types of questions they ask. For example, one paper was very heavy on the biochemistry flowchart style questions, while another included almost none, instead being very heavy on calculations. Also, there is at least one DO’N sample paper that doesn’t ask anything about pH, as well as some other GAMSAT favourites. It is therefore a bit frustrating at time when your score between tests fluctuates as a result of the types of questions asked. This can give you the impression, wrongly, of getting better (or worse) when in fact you haven’t changed.

*Griffith’s GAMSAT review*

For some reason, having read all of his Review, I get the impression that I would really like Peter Griffiths as a person. His book/publication is easy to read and down to earth.

There is a section on all of the universities which have a GEM programme, and what the most recent GAMSAT cutoff was. In some cases he even expands on this with info such as ‘in 2018, all applicants with a GAMSAT score of 60 and above were offered a place to this university’ etc… This is extremely useful, as most universities don’t have this info on their website. At best, they might provide a GAMSAT score range.

The Griffith’s sample test was unfortunately pretty bad. It was a bit sloppily written and quite unlike the ACER papers, to which I had become accustomed at this stage. Section 3 was particularly bad, with WAY too much recall required and, in addition, the questions seemed as if they were written by somebody with only rudimentary English - lots of bad grammar and omitted prepositions, which in some cases made the question impossible to understand, particularly given the time constraints. The word ‘is’, for example, was often omitted by accident from questions. The Griffith’s sample Section 1 seemed to make it’s questions difficult to answer by making the 4 possible solutions so similar and so equally credible (to the point where more than 2 were often irrefutably correct) that it became less likely that you’d pick the correct one. Instead, the paper should have aimed to ask intelligent questions which required a level of lateral thinking and creativity to decipher. These sample tests were free however. You get what you pay for.

*Random Ozimed stuff*

I worked on any OZIMED questions and sample tests I could find online. What I found was of a pretty poor quality if I’m honest, and seemed to miss the mark with regard to the actual standard and content of questions published by ACER. I did noticeably better in the Ozimed sample test 4 than in the DON tests, which I deem to be of a much higher quality.

*My sample test results*

Now to the juicy stuff.

Here are two graphs which show the results I got in the various sample papers I took - I know, lame... In total I sat 9 sample exams under exam conditions. If I hadn’t done so many sample tests, I honestly think my result on the day would have been a lot worse. I had no issues with timing the real exam, for example, which seems to be a problem for most people. You’ll see that my score for the Griffith’s paper was very bad in both cases. As I said, I don’t think this was a very good sample paper.

Name:  Humanities GAMSAT results.png
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Name:  Science GAMSAT results.png
Views: 38
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I also completed the two ACER essay papers, with automatic online scoring, receiving for both an estimated GAMSAT score of 69-72 each.

Take from the scores what you will. You’ll see that, despite studying the relevant weak spots after each exam, my results didn’t really trend towards any noticeable improvement. This was at least in part due to the fact that the DON tests were sometimes very different in content from test to test. Topics that I brushed up on after test 3 didn’t come up on test 4 at all for example. Don’t be disheartened.

I compared my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ papers to others using the ‘GAMSAT Score Estimator’, by Robert McLeay which although somewhat dubious does at least give your scores a bit of context. You’ll see that my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ test, while appearing bad at first, compare reasonably well to my peers. My estimated score, taking into account both ACER papers, was 64. This was impressively accurate in the end.

*My experience on the day of the GAMSAT*

I had a great paper one, or so I felt at the time. There were even questions about extracts from books that I had recently read on the paper! I was generally certain of my answers and finished with 10 minutes to spare.

Paper two went very well also. Topics were, broadly speaking, A: importance of respect and trust, particular for one’s government and B: we are too stressed these days, we all need to be happier etc.

As a side note: I can't understand why many think that watching the news/current events is good for paper 2. They are obviously not looking for facts and figures, but for a written response that demonstrates your level of written communication skills. Insomuch as watching the news might give you an idea or perspective for a specific subject area it may be useful. But, for example, writing about the importance of trust and respect for those in positions of authority doesn’t require you to be clued up on Trump’s current foreign policies, neither I suspect will you have time in the exam to go into such detail. Think of it as you might think of a driving test: you’re not going to be asked about the inner workings of a gear box, or any other theoretical specifics, but you will need to demonstrate practical ability and a certain level of proficiency in driving the vehicle. Likewise, in paper 2, it is so much more important that you are simply able to convey your opinion in an eloquent and clear manner, demonstrating that you are capable of expressing yourself well.

Paper III. This was weird. None of what I was led to believe was typical of GAMSAT questions (and what I had spent the last considerable chunk of time studying) actually came up. There was no pH, no buoyancy, no lenses, no Hardy-Weinberg, very little rates of reaction, no nuclear decay, no sound/decibels to name just a few. It was very odd. Reading the GAMSAT subreddit afterwards, it seemed like everybody was in the same boat. Section 3 in March 2019 was apparently a weird one.

*Results*

The results came out on Friday 10th May early in the morning, and as I said earlier I scored a 66 overall. I was surprised at my section 1 result, 60, as I had been expecting this to be my strongest paper. This probably just meant that the rest of the cohort that day did quite well in paper 1. Remember, if you feel that the test was particularly difficult, then everybody else probably felt so as well. Since the GAMSAT scores are reckoned by taking into account how well individuals performed in relation to eachother, the fact that you found the exam difficult is unimportant if everybody also felt that way!

One thing I can certainly take from my GAMSAT experience is that it is impossible to tell how well you’ve done until the results come out. I was expecting (and hoping for) a mark anywhere between 59-63ish. I was expecting my section 1 to be strong, which is wasn’t particularly, and my section 3 to be weak, which was also not the case.

My results, roughly, correspond to the following percentile ranges for the March 2019 cohort:

Section 1, 60: 60th percentile
Section 2, 73: 98th percentile
Section 3, 66: 88th percentile
Over all, 66: 88th percentile

These percentiles are for the overall score however so may not correspond to the percentile groups for the individual papers. The individual percentile graphs for each paper are not published by ACER.

I’m extremely happy over all. Having expected to just scrape by, if even, I am delighted to have secured a mark that will (fingers crossed) get me into university.

I hope that what I've written is helpful to some people out there, at least in some way. I know first hand that the whole thing can be a bit daunting, and that it's hard to know if you stand any chance at all in the middle of the whole process. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I hope I can answer some of them before I forget about this post over the next few months (as I inevitably will) and move on with my life
quoting this incase it gets removed.

nice advice, gonna add it to my GAMSAT folder
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Tomtherabbit
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(Original post by marnalarn)
Okay, I'll definitely get the Griffiths Review.
You've been super helpful. Thank you!

Just out of curiosity, where will you be applying in October?
Somewhere in Ireland - still unsure! We can change our order of preference until July 1st.
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marnalarn
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Oh your application must be due much earlier than in England. I haven't started mine yet, the deadline isn't until 15th October. Good luck!
(Original post by Tomtherabbit)
Somewhere in Ireland - still unsure! We can change our order of preference until July 1st.
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augjacion
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Congratulations and thanks so much for sharing your experience!
(Original post by Tomtherabbit)
Hi guys. This is going to be a pretty long post, so I'm sorry. I sat the GAMSAT in Dublin in March 2019 and scored 66 overall (60, 73, 66). I promised myself that if I got a decent score I would make a post about my experience to help others: what materials I used, how I approached studying etc.

I am an average guy of, I assume, average intelligence. I hope that you can use my experience as a good example of what a ‘normal’ person can achieve.

I’ve also included my results from various sample tests that I sat, so you can compare yourself to them and maybe even gain a bit of insight into how you might perform yourself on exam day.

*Intro, about me etc.*

I had intended to sit the GAMSAT in March 2018, but unfortunately I had a huge commitment already on the exam day that I couldn’t get out of, and so I decided to go for the following March. I thought I may as well give myself the extra year to study instead of going for the September option six months away. I’d have no choice but to start uni in September 2019 anyway.

I’m from an arts background. I did a pretty tough arts degree in an English university (although I’m fully Irish, from Dublin) in which we had to write on average 3-4 essays each week. Yep, each WEEK! This meant that, for me, Section II of the GAMSAT was the section that worried me least. I was terrified of Section III however. I have zero science knowledge, other than really basic stuff from my couple of half-assed years doing chemistry at secondary school. I hated it. My focus for the GAMSAT was therefore very much on science, and getting myself up to scratch for Section III. I knew that to start looking at past papers before I had a reasonable grounding in science would have been a waste of past papers, so I set about learning sciency stuff.

*Study resources*

My basic science crash course consisted of:

* Khan Academy - if you don’t know what this is, give it a Google. Massively helpful, and I imagine it will remain a great source of knowledge even as I start my medical degree.

* ‘For Dummies’ books - chemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry essentials, biochemistry, physics, biology. I found some of these books, despite the title of the series from which they come, actually quite difficult. Particularly the chemistry. My advice is to take your time - don’t worry about learning formulas etc., just get your head around the concepts. This is so important.

* Letts ‘AS’ and ‘A2 in a week’ books - these books were very much more approachable than the stuff you might find online. If you’re struggling with understanding concepts, I found that these books were a good place to start. Concise and clear.

Once I had brought myself up to scratch on the science part of the exam I set out practising. For this I used a combination of:

1. Des O’ Neill’s material (mainly)

2. Griffith’s GAMSAT Review

3. Random Ozimed practice material that I could find online

*1. Des O’ Neill*

This is a massive, massive resource. I’m proud to say that, over the course of a few months, I did manage to complete all of the practice questions AND all of the practice tests. I did about 4 pages each day (and corrected them) of science and humanities questions and then, once I was closer to the exam, started doing the practice tests as well.

The practice questions are hugely useful. In general, I found a lot of them to be WAY harder than the sample material published by ACER. This was particularly the case with the science questions, which in the Des O’ Neill leaned very heavily towards organic chemistry. I suspect also that the Des O’ Neill was written in the days where calculators were allowed in the GAMSAT, as some of the calculations required in the practice questions and tests were quite demanding - and there were lots of calculations. I believe I was using a fairly old copy of the DON though, so things may have been updated since.

I will say however that a source of indescribable frustration was the realisation that some of the given answer keys were incorrect at various points throughout the sample questions. More frustrating still were the questions, particularly in S1, for which I suspected the answer key was incorrect but for which I had no way of checking. This was disheartening.

The Des O’ Neill sample tests were a brilliant resource, although a few things need to be noted. Firstly, the science papers are very organic-heavy. And some of these orgo questions were HARD. There were also more physics questions in the DO’N than in the actual GAMSAT. Overall, the level of difficulty of the subject matter in the DO’N science tests was above and beyond that of the GAMSAT. However, while the subject matter was generally more difficult, the real GAMSAT questions can often be harder questions, just on more basic topics. I hope that makes sense.

Secondly, the individual tests actually vary massively with the types of questions they ask. For example, one paper was very heavy on the biochemistry flowchart style questions, while another included almost none, instead being very heavy on calculations. Also, there is at least one DO’N sample paper that doesn’t ask anything about pH, as well as some other GAMSAT favourites. It is therefore a bit frustrating at time when your score between tests fluctuates as a result of the types of questions asked. This can give you the impression, wrongly, of getting better (or worse) when in fact you haven’t changed.

*Griffith’s GAMSAT review*

For some reason, having read all of his Review, I get the impression that I would really like Peter Griffiths as a person. His book/publication is easy to read and down to earth.

There is a section on all of the universities which have a GEM programme, and what the most recent GAMSAT cutoff was. In some cases he even expands on this with info such as ‘in 2018, all applicants with a GAMSAT score of 60 and above were offered a place to this university’ etc… This is extremely useful, as most universities don’t have this info on their website. At best, they might provide a GAMSAT score range.

The Griffith’s sample test was unfortunately pretty bad. It was a bit sloppily written and quite unlike the ACER papers, to which I had become accustomed at this stage. Section 3 was particularly bad, with WAY too much recall required and, in addition, the questions seemed as if they were written by somebody with only rudimentary English - lots of bad grammar and omitted prepositions, which in some cases made the question impossible to understand, particularly given the time constraints. The word ‘is’, for example, was often omitted by accident from questions. The Griffith’s sample Section 1 seemed to make it’s questions difficult to answer by making the 4 possible solutions so similar and so equally credible (to the point where more than 2 were often irrefutably correct) that it became less likely that you’d pick the correct one. Instead, the paper should have aimed to ask intelligent questions which required a level of lateral thinking and creativity to decipher. These sample tests were free however. You get what you pay for.

*Random Ozimed stuff*

I worked on any OZIMED questions and sample tests I could find online. What I found was of a pretty poor quality if I’m honest, and seemed to miss the mark with regard to the actual standard and content of questions published by ACER. I did noticeably better in the Ozimed sample test 4 than in the DON tests, which I deem to be of a much higher quality.

*My sample test results*

Now to the juicy stuff.

Here are two graphs which show the results I got in the various sample papers I took - I know, lame... In total I sat 9 sample exams under exam conditions. If I hadn’t done so many sample tests, I honestly think my result on the day would have been a lot worse. I had no issues with timing the real exam, for example, which seems to be a problem for most people. You’ll see that my score for the Griffith’s paper was very bad in both cases. As I said, I don’t think this was a very good sample paper.

Name:  Humanities GAMSAT results.png
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Name:  Science GAMSAT results.png
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I also completed the two ACER essay papers, with automatic online scoring, receiving for both an estimated GAMSAT score of 69-72 each.

Take from the scores what you will. You’ll see that, despite studying the relevant weak spots after each exam, my results didn’t really trend towards any noticeable improvement. This was at least in part due to the fact that the DON tests were sometimes very different in content from test to test. Topics that I brushed up on after test 3 didn’t come up on test 4 at all for example. Don’t be disheartened.

I compared my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ papers to others using the ‘GAMSAT Score Estimator’, by Robert McLeay which although somewhat dubious does at least give your scores a bit of context. You’ll see that my results from the ACER ‘green’ and ‘purple’ test, while appearing bad at first, compare reasonably well to my peers. My estimated score, taking into account both ACER papers, was 64. This was impressively accurate in the end.

*My experience on the day of the GAMSAT*

I had a great paper one, or so I felt at the time. There were even questions about extracts from books that I had recently read on the paper! I was generally certain of my answers and finished with 10 minutes to spare.

Paper two went very well also. Topics were, broadly speaking, A: importance of respect and trust, particular for one’s government and B: we are too stressed these days, we all need to be happier etc.

As a side note: I can't understand why many think that watching the news/current events is good for paper 2. They are obviously not looking for facts and figures, but for a written response that demonstrates your level of written communication skills. Insomuch as watching the news might give you an idea or perspective for a specific subject area it may be useful. But, for example, writing about the importance of trust and respect for those in positions of authority doesn’t require you to be clued up on Trump’s current foreign policies, neither I suspect will you have time in the exam to go into such detail. Think of it as you might think of a driving test: you’re not going to be asked about the inner workings of a gear box, or any other theoretical specifics, but you will need to demonstrate practical ability and a certain level of proficiency in driving the vehicle. Likewise, in paper 2, it is so much more important that you are simply able to convey your opinion in an eloquent and clear manner, demonstrating that you are capable of expressing yourself well.

Paper III. This was weird. None of what I was led to believe was typical of GAMSAT questions (and what I had spent the last considerable chunk of time studying) actually came up. There was no pH, no buoyancy, no lenses, no Hardy-Weinberg, very little rates of reaction, no nuclear decay, no sound/decibels to name just a few. It was very odd. Reading the GAMSAT subreddit afterwards, it seemed like everybody was in the same boat. Section 3 in March 2019 was apparently a weird one.

*Results*

The results came out on Friday 10th May early in the morning, and as I said earlier I scored a 66 overall. I was surprised at my section 1 result, 60, as I had been expecting this to be my strongest paper. This probably just meant that the rest of the cohort that day did quite well in paper 1. Remember, if you feel that the test was particularly difficult, then everybody else probably felt so as well. Since the GAMSAT scores are reckoned by taking into account how well individuals performed in relation to eachother, the fact that you found the exam difficult is unimportant if everybody also felt that way!

One thing I can certainly take from my GAMSAT experience is that it is impossible to tell how well you’ve done until the results come out. I was expecting (and hoping for) a mark anywhere between 59-63ish. I was expecting my section 1 to be strong, which is wasn’t particularly, and my section 3 to be weak, which was also not the case.

My results, roughly, correspond to the following percentile ranges for the March 2019 cohort:

Section 1, 60: 60th percentile
Section 2, 73: 98th percentile
Section 3, 66: 88th percentile
Over all, 66: 88th percentile

These percentiles are for the overall score however so may not correspond to the percentile groups for the individual papers. The individual percentile graphs for each paper are not published by ACER.

I’m extremely happy over all. Having expected to just scrape by, if even, I am delighted to have secured a mark that will (fingers crossed) get me into university.

I hope that what I've written is helpful to some people out there, at least in some way. I know first hand that the whole thing can be a bit daunting, and that it's hard to know if you stand any chance at all in the middle of the whole process. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I hope I can answer some of them before I forget about this post over the next few months (as I inevitably will) and move on with my life
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