Gamsat advice: How to best prepare (very long post)

Watch
dannie_boi
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#1
GAMSAT September 2021 sitting:

MY BACKGROUND:

I am from a non-English background and have lived in the UK for the last 9 years. I am stressing this fact because I hope no one feels put off from the exam because of a disadvantage with their English abilities (i.e. Section 1 and Section 2). If I can do it, most of you certainly can.

I am currently a second-year biomedical science student trying to get into medicine after a shambolic A-level results day (I did not actually sit my A-levels as I was in the first year affected by the pandemic and was given low grades). I told myself if I did well in the GAMSAT I would share my advice here. Well, I somehow managed to do so in my first-sitting so here I am sharing my journey on how I prepared for the GAMSAT and some things I wish I had been aware of.

I did a good 3 months of solid studying before the exam during the summer (June -> September) for around 3-6 hours a day. Usually 1 day off a week, sometimes 2 if I needed it. Sometimes I did less than 3 hours a day. For 3 months before I started solid study, I was trying to find out what the GAMSAT was about, how I could prepare for it and where I could find good resources. I also did a very small amount of studying during that time, no more than an average of 1 hour a week (I had been focusing on my university course). Hopefully, my advice will be of some use to you all.

My score - 52/64/78, OVERALL - 68 (91st percentile)

(perhaps I am not the best person to give Section 1 advice as it was relatively low, but I will do it anyway)

MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO TAKE FROM THIS:

-DON'T BE PUT OFF BY PERCENTAGES - the GAMSAT scores are calculated relative to how other individuals have performed. This means that if everyone does badly, lower percentages may translate to a high GAMSAT score. The same is true for most practise materials; For the first half of my GAMSAT prep, I was not aware of this, and when I got low percentages (specifically for section 1), I sincerely doubted my ability to do well in the exam. For example, there were even times I scored around 50% in Section 1 and thought this would have translated to a score of below 50, which it likely wouldn't have. Conversely, there were some tests I scored ~70% in. Overall, it depends on the paper you're attempting (whether it be practise or real exam), if you think a paper is harder than usual likely others have too and thus your score would be relative to theirs. Similarly, a score of 50% in Section 3 may translate to a score of 60+. All I'm trying to say is don't be shaken up if you're not achieving high percentages in your practise materials, obviously always aim high but don’t let low scores discourage you. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. I recall doing quite badly in one Section 1 test under timed conditions (think it might have been the Gold Standard practise paper) and almost considered not taking the real thing. Let these scores help you see where you've gone wrong and where you can improve, especially for Section 3. Many people like taking account what type of questions they get wrong and attempt those types more often, for example, Section 1 poetry or Section 3 physics -> mechanics.

-HAVE SOMEONE READ YOUR ESSAYS AND GIVE FEEDBACK - this is really important. My girlfriend read many of my essays (she is very good at writing) and gave me good feedback on them. Over time I started slowly improving my essays until I got to the point I felt confident with the finished products under timed-conditions. I saw that some people have essay "buddies"; basically other people sitting the GAMSAT who you can share essays with. They give feedback on your essays and vice versa. This to me sounds like an excellent idea. Not only can you receive good feedback from others in the same position as you, but it also encourages you to actively look for areas of improvement when reading their essays ultimately making you more aware of what to do and what not to do when writing essays; It's always good to share ideas. Aside from this, you may find many other people who can give valuable feedback, e.g. family members, friends, tutors, people online etc.

-DO FULL PRACTISE TESTS TIMED - if you are serious about GAMSAT please do this. The exam is very long and the pressure of being in the exam hall on the day does not help either. In the last 2 or so weeks of my preparation, I started doing full practise tests under exam conditions around every 3-4 days. This was great to build my mental stamina for the day of the exam. It was great for my confidence too, especially since the practise tests I did were for the timings of the original exam (which was a total of 6.5 hours excluding the lunch break), whereas for the September 2021 sitting it was around 5. I convinced myself if I could do the 6.5 hour practise tests, I'd smash the real exam as it was slightly shorter and therefore required slightly less mental stamina. Just practise a few tests under exam conditions before the real thing and you'll be in good stead.

-YOU CAN REALLY SURPRISE YOURSELF - I certainly did, I went into my preparation aiming for between 55-60. Towards the end of my preparation, my ACER Practise Test scores on FearTheCow (GAMSAT score estimator website) estimated me around 61-64 and I managed to achieve 68. Please remain motivated and work hard, remember why you're sitting the exam and why you want to go into medicine. AIM HIGH, be ambitious.

-GET INTO A ROUTINE - maybe not a routine where you have every hour of every day planned out, but I found it useful to aim for a minimum of 4 hours a day. Even if I fell short at times, I knew that I at least did some. DON'T PROCRASTINATE.

-GET USED TO GETTING UP EARLY - my exam was at 7 AM, this was a big task for me as in my first year of university I got into a terrible habit of waking up at 12. Chances are you too may have to start your exam at 7.

-START SMALL END BIG - unless you're incredibly intelligent and resilient, it doesn’t sound like much use going from no preparation to doing full-on GAMSAT mocks, the exception being if you're using it as a baseline to improve. I personally started by doing all 3 sections untimed, to get used to them, then I started timing myself for 10 or so questions at a time (work out how much time to give yourself, something like 1.5 minute per S1 question and 2 minutes per S2 question), and slowly increased how many questions I did at a time. Eventually, I was doing each entire section under exam condition (but not all in one go). Finally, I was ready to do full tests. When you're in the endgame it might be a good idea for you to some days alternate between practising entire sections (but not all in one go) and other days full tests in one go (do this according to how many practise tests you have and can actually do, so you know you can do one final one around 2 days before the real exam, like I did).

WHAT I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT EACH SECTION:

SECTION 1 - like I said, I am not the best person to give advice in this section. The first Section 1 practise test I ever did estimated me a 52 on FearTheCow, which is exactly what I got lol, so theoretically I may not have improved here at all, aside from mental stamina. Sometimes I felt like I was improving in this section only to start getting low scores out of nowhere again. I guess different S1 tests vary in difficulty but overall if you feel like you haven't made much progress in this section or another section, don't give up sitting the exam. Just make sure you are confident with sitting the section under exam conditions (even if you never finish all the questions like me) and that you try and avoid silly mistakes (the GAMSAT will try to trick you). If I had 1 year to prepare for the GAMSAT, something I would have done is actively read in my spare time as I believe this might have made me comprehend the passages better and faster. I was never a reader before GAMSAT.

SECTION 2 - again, get people to read your essays and give you feedback. Something else I did was memorise some studies that I could cite in TASK A (I don't recommend citing in TASK B) which is exactly what I did in the exam; TASK A was baso discussing whether we still have gender inequality and I used statistics from one of the studies I memorised. Try and get familiarised with basic different ethical, philosophical and political ideas if not already (e.g. morality, globalisation, racism etc). Crash course is very good for this. For Task B it is good to have some personal anecdotes to link to your essay. It may also be good to have a structure you could usually aim to follow for your essays (for me I just did an introduction, 2-3 main body paragraphs and a conclusion). In the month leading up to the exam, try and do 1-2 essays a day under timed conditions. Before that, just get used to writing good essays and place less emphasis on timing. Lastly, try and give yourself a few minutes at the end of Section 2 to go over your essays and improve grammar or to make them more concise.

SECTION 3 - I am from a science background so I had an advantage in this section. I would recommend learning A-level chemistry and biology to a good standard and at least GCSE/AS physics if you haven't. Most of the 3rd Section is just about your ability to reason in the sciences (as the name of the section suggests) but for this you need a good scientific understanding. Khan academy, Professor Dave explains, Elliot Rintoul, Crash Course and Freesciencelessons are all great, digestible ways to learn the foundation you need in the sciences. I only had GCSE physics as physics background so I bought myself an AS physics in a week textbook which helped. I also bought the A-level in a week physics book but I did not complete that one (I skimmed over it and it all seemed to have knowledge beyond what I needed in my preparation). I imagine the chemistry and biology ones will be good too, so for non-science backgrounds I recommend looking into them, it gives you a good list of what to learn for the exam. If not, several websites online have lists containing different topics you may need to know for the GAMSAT, it might be a good idea to create a 'ticklist' regarding what topics you feel you've learned well and what topics you still need to go over. If you already have a science background I would just skim over all the important bits, make sure they make sense to you and then start practising questions. While a strong foundation in the sciences is really important, I believe practise is most important for this section as most of them just test your ability to reason. Don't bother practising hard A-level science questions as they are hardly the same as what you will experience in the exam. Practise, practise, practise and I'm sure you can get to a good standard. I found the Des O'Neill questions EXCELLENT as a preparation material.

GOOD RESOURCES:
try to get a variety of resources as you will be equipped to deal with different types of questions, these are all great:

-DES O'NEILL - probably my best resource for all of GAMSAT preparation, the S3 questions were sometimes incredibly hard, but they helped me get to a very good standard. S1 questions were also quite good and even enjoyable at times.
-ACER PRACTISE TESTS - I used the sample questions and practise questions to give me a good understanding of what the questions were like and the remaining practise tests under timed conditions. I also did the written communication tests (scored 69-72 for the 1st one & 62-64 in the 2nd one)
-GRIFFITHS GAMSAT REVIEW - gives you a very good overview of the GAMSAT, different GAMSAT unis and even advice for interviews. However, some of the S1 questions were definitely wordier and longer than what I experienced in the real exam. Moreover, a lot of the S3 questions were based more on factual recall and less on reasoning but still made sure your science knowledge was up to a good standard, which I guess was ok.

-SECTION 2 GENERATORS - you can find easily find these by doing a simple google search online. Very good and very useful, not to mention free. Most of my practise essays were written from the quotes from these websites. They cover a variety of different topics.

-GAMSAT Sample questions - there is a website called gamsatsamplequestions.co.uk with several different free questions. While not an excellent resource, I found it quite useful for S1 as the questions were somewhat different to other resources and thus gives you some useful variety. I usually compiled several different questions and attempted them in one go.

THE DAY

Getting up at ~ 6:30 was an arduous task, but I tried to get used to getting up early in the week leading up to the exam. I had a room booked to stay the night at the hotel where the exam was held and did no work the day before. I took some caffeine pills (which at least for me really helps) and in the morning all I had to do was take the lift down. Definitely book a hotel room at/near where your exam is held unless you live near it. I appreciate some people may not have the money but if it wasn't for this, I do not know how I would have travelled to Sheffield to get to my exam for 7 AM. My exam was entirely on a laptop and before I knew it, it was over. It was a great feeling to finish it and the pint I had at the pub afterwards tasted better than ever.

It was hard-work and a long build up to the exam, but it sure paid off. Opening my results was incredible, I never expected to get 68 and I have been ecstatic ever since. Hopefully this guarantees me interviews when I apply.

In conclusion (feel like I'm wrapping up a GAMSAT essay here haha), don't give up. Just because you think you may not be good enough for this exam does not mean you aren't. Work hard and at the end of the day, the best you can do is try. Simply the fact that you're sitting the exam and putting yourself through the stress and pressure already shows that you have one of the traits of a worthy doctor. Good luck
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How would you describe the quality of the digital skills you're taught at school?

Excellent (3)
6.98%
Okay (16)
37.21%
A bit lacking (12)
27.91%
Not good at all (12)
27.91%

Watched Threads

View All