Thursday, 3 July 2014

GAMSAT

This is only relevant to the graduate entry applicant such as myself. The GAMSAT exam is another entrance exam used by a number of universities instead of the UKCAT. The universities that use this exam are: Exeter, Nottingham, Plymouth, St George's, Swansea, Cardiff and Liverpool. The exam this year is on the 17th Sep 2014 and registration is open now at http://gamsat.acer.edu.au/gamsat-uk.

Each university will have a different cut off score which they will use as interview criteria. Last year Swansea had the lowest cut off at around 56, while Nottingham's was 61 (these will most likely change for 2015 entry though).

The exam itself is made up of 3 sections- reasoning in the humanities and social sciences, written communication and reasoning in biological and physical sciences. The exam costs £234 to sit and lasts for 6.5 hours (5.5 hours of the exam and 1 hour break for lunch) so its a pretty monster exam! On the GAMSAT website there is an information booklet which contains all of the official information you need to register and understand the content of the exam...but I will try and explain a bit about what I did to prepare for it!

I have only taken the exam once (last year) and achieved a score of 61 (which considering what I expected was amazing). This score is made up of section 1 + section 2 + 2x section 3 so the science section counts for double! Its pretty difficult to guess or work out what you have in any mock exams you might do as these scores are not percentages or actual scores, but more of a raw figure calculated from your results and everyone else's.

My first advice is to go out and buy the gold standard GAMSAT book! This saved my life, it is amazing! If you can get one with the web access card, even better! The other investment you should make, are the official ACER exam practice questions and mocks, which are available once again on the GAMSAT website as ebooks.  Plus an extra bit of info for you, which I only found out the day before the exam....if you go on youtube and search for GAMSAT there are videos with all the answers and explanations for the questions in these booklets!! As I said in my UKCAT post use google and youtube as much as you can, free information is never a bad thing!

Specifically for the first section, I think one of the best ways to improve your score is to increase your vocabulary! I know that sounds pretty strange, but the majority of the questions would be simple if you just had access to a thesaurus.

In regards to the written section, you have to write 2 essays in an hour on the subject of a group of quotes you get given. The quotes will all have a common theme and you can choose to either write about one quote alone, compare two quotes or write on the general theme. Now I'm a pretty shoddy essay writer, but this section was my best by far! In my GAMSAT preparation I must have written around 100 essays which I got all of my family to read. There are services which will read and mark your essays on a fee for service basis but I personally felt my parents could do just as good a job! The Student Room has essays for you to read, which is really useful in gauging your standard and style of writing. The Gold book has a great variety of quotes for you to use to write essays, but I also just googled 'Lincoln quotes' 'Churchill quotes' etc to find more difficult or indeed easier ones. Another way to prepare is to search for quotes regarding specific themes such as love, friendship, superstition, peace  etc to just enable you to see how certain quotes fit into themes. This section is the easiest to prepare for, just write as many essays as possible and make sure you time yourself once you start getting closer to the exam date!

Lastly, the science section. This section requires you to have physics, chemistry and biology knowledge up to A level standard (a tough ask if didn't even do these subjects!). I did not do physics for A level and had a C in chemistry so wasn't in the best position but still managed to get a good score! I used AQA A level textbooks, the Gold GAMSAT book and youtube for my revision which really helped get the basics down. For this section its less about your actual knowledge, and more about the understanding/being able to logically think...but that said, knowing what Km or bases are certainly helps! Because this is the last section, you will be pretty drained when you start so here's what I did to optimise my chances of a good score. Instead of working through the questions as they  came, I did all of the biology questions, then the chemistry and lastly the physics (change to suit your preferences). This meant that I did all the questions I was most confident on first and it didn't matter if I didn't reach the physics because I was likely to get them wrong anyways! I noticed quite a few people flicking through their booklets and so assume this is quite a popular method of tackling this section and it worked for me! :)

Last advice is to just do as much preparation as possible. Writing an essay is only half an hour of your day, you could do it in your lunch break at work! Make sure you have basic scientific knowledge in all three subjects, don't just skip all physics! Trust me you will understand something. If you have any specific questions just comment and i'll try to answer!

Good luck!

PS. Don't waste time with 'pass GAMSAT' by Dr Tom. I got up at 2am to join his live webtalk and it was an hour of a sales pitch to buy his book and CD set for around £300. Don't make the same mistake...


1 comment:

  1. Can second what you said about PassGAMSAT. I went to his interview webinar and while there were some good bits, like the opportunity to practice a couple of questions and get instant feedback, a lot of it was stuff that you could easily find online (like the format of the exam) and sales pitches. (I actually found your blog by Googling to see if anyone else had had similar experiences...)

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