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GAMSAT Advice From 1st Year GEM Students

I surveyed the University College Dublin Graduate-entry Medicine class of 2016 to gather some advice for anyone sitting the GAMSAT this year. Word for word, here’s what they had to say:

 

  • Look around on the forums for advice before planning how you are going to tackle the GAMSAT. Use newmediamedicine.com and pagingdr.net. The GAMSAT is tough but a good score is achievable. Use the previous experience of others to help you maximise your chances.
  • Start studying early. If you have any decent level of english the essay section will be fine.
  • Don’t waste your money on the preparation courses, there are plenty of free online resources and also get all the sample papers from acer off their website, well worth paying for.
  • Use Khan academy online videos, really helped me through.
  • You have to want it. If you want it badly enough then the study, the stress, the cost, the grinds and the time it takes up won’t matter. I sat the GAMSAT 4 times. The only difference in the last time I sat it, I just wanted it more than anything. I gave up everything for an entire summer and just focused on it. On a side note get the Guru Method books. I know 5 people including myself that used these books to prepare for the GAMSAT and they are all now in medicine. Once each person used them, they got in. I used mine on the 4th time I sat the exam and got more than enough to get in anywhere. All 5 individuals got over 60 too. I know they’re expensive but they are definitely worth it. Grinds in areas you are weak in will definitely help too. I got grinds in chemistry and it without doubt got me through the science section. I know I’ve rabbeted on a bit but main piece of advice is just want it more than anything.
  • Don’t stress!
  • Practice tests under time pressure, over and over and over again!!!!
  • Practice questions for all sections. way more important than learning stuff off.
  • Study the EXAM ITSELF first and what’s on it second. Doing well is more to do with a way of thinking rather than what you know. Learning all of science will NOT help you. You cannot learn the entire syllabus because there isn’t one therefore train yourself to know the kind of answers they are expected.
  • Focus on the ESSAYS. Although obviously very subjective it is easy to see the right buttons to push. I simply read AC Grayling who might as well have been writing essays intended for the GAMSAT and he covers all the topics. Plus being aware of what is going on politically helps to give examples. You can also learn generic quotes which can work. Plus, we are all human, no matter what they throw at you, you will have something to say. When you think about it, it’s actually a lot more formulaic than the other sessions.
  • Practice lots.
  • Try to mentally prepare yourself for it as best you can because the day is such a mind fuck, just practice practice practice questions to become familiar with the style of question and also similar questions seem to pop up every year so if youv’e seen a similar type of question before you will know exactly how to tackle it giving you a quick answer and a boost in confidence.
  • Start your study early, unless you are incredibly intelligent/lucky it is not possible to pass this exam without proper preparation. Personally I took a year out after college and studied 4-5 hours, 5 days a week for 5 months leading up to the exam. Practicing the essay samples is also integral for doing well. Reading articles from broad sheet news papers also gave me an upper hand in expressing my opinion in the essay section.
  • Go to the toilet beforehand, they’re real scabby on pee breaks.
  • Be confident and relaxed on the day. If you’ve been studying for it you’re at a huge advantage compared to the rest of the entrants. You only have to beat the people in the room. The other thing I would say is go through the science questions and answer them in order of preference. I did all the biology first, then physics and lastly Chemistry.
  • Read as much as you can-newspapers, magazines and books.
  • There’s a book called the Gold Standard by Ferdinand M.D. and he does a two day course in Dublin too. The book explains that there’s only 5 types of questions that they can ask you. I scored really highly in this section cause of the way it’s explained in that chapter. As for essays just practice writing comparative ones and one or two on friendship or love. As long as your essay is structured you should get a decent mark. Also, lucozade tablets…are a must!!! Or you can even bring in the clear lemonade lucozade in a plastic water bottle. It’s a long day and you need the sugar to keep focused.
  • Section 2 pulls everyone up. Practice 30 minute essays everyday. Quote Nietzche, Darwin, Dawkins, Freud. Write a short anecdote for the 2nd essay, make it interesting, it’s not an essay, it’s a serious of interesting thoughts.
  • ESSAYS ESSAYS ESSAYS!!! I cannot stress this enough, there is only so far you can go with the science, most people score averagely enough on it. The essays are where the easy marks are. And just because you’ve been good at essays before doesn’t mean you’re set for this. You need to practice doing 2 well-structured, engaging, effective and easily-read essays in an hour. Practice practice practice. Decide what structure your essays are going to take well in advance and practice writing all your essays from that point onwards with that structure. Know how you plan to use the quotes you are supplied too, before you ever see them. Its all about method. The markers don’t want to discover a new Hemingway, they want to see that you can compose an argument or opinion and convey it succinctly in half an hour. So keep it simple. I scored 64, 76, 54 in s1 s2 s3 respectively with 62 overall. Note the 76, that pulled me up and into the course I wanted. So in closing, essays, easy to practice, and highly profitable if executed right.
  • Do a brilliant essay! They make it much easier than the other sections so practice that and read lots
  • Prepare well on essays. Easy marks.
  • Prepare well. start prep early. use papers, they are as close as you can get. do as many questions based on gamsat as possible. play to your strengths and work to cover your weaknesses TIMING!
  • Go with your strengths! So many people neglect their essay because they think it’s ‘easy’ but it can bring you up to a high score if it’s good enough. Practice timing too, it’s a very long day and you will be exhausted by the beginning of the science paper. Good luck!
  • Do practice papers. I used Ozimed which are easier than the actual exam but still helped a great deal. I didn’t do much study at all considering I’ve no science background. 1 month science study and then for 1 month prior to the exam I did an exam routine each day using practice papers, i.e. section 1 and 2, then a break, then section 3. The essay practice is most beneficial in terms of a time spent studying:gamsat score ratio.
  • Allow enough time to really familiarise yourself with what the exam entails. No less than six months preparation, in my opinion.
  • Focus on chemistry (organic chem mostly), if you can crack that you’ll crack the gamsat as long as you keep tipping along practicing some essays on the side too. Also, don’t let a poor early section put you off for the rest of the exam. I did a very poor section 1 but kept the head and did well in the next two which pulled me up and got me in to med school. keep calm and you’ll be fine, very straight forward, don’t listen to the hype of anyone else on the day, just do your own thing.
  • 11 hours of sleep the night before and DO NOT read anything on boards people are nut jobs and they will try to scare the crap out of you. It’s jut a test and you can take it again. Cliched or not if you are meant to do it you’ll get there so chill out !!
  • Read newspapers and brush up on your science! Also when you’re actually sitting the exam: Do all the questions that you can and dont waste your time thinking for Ages on one. Come back to it later.
  • Persevere. If you want it you will get it. It takes time and hard work. There is no shortcut around the hard work for 90% of people so work hard and persevere. Do a full simulation of the exam day. Do the past papers. Do everything you can get your hands on. Read read read. The Irish Times, The Independent, the New York Times, Time magazine, New Scientist, NewsWeek, The Economist and get good at the essays – they are many peoples saving grace and are easier than the other sections to score a high mark in. Use the Khan Academy on YouTube for science revision and #bananaiscool (organic-chem-guy) for learning organic chemistry. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and do it!
  • Do the past papers several times – to learn science from more or less scratch, use CGP’s AS/A Level revision guides for Phys/Chem/Bio; gaps can be filled in with Gold Standard GAMSAT (sorry, it’s expensive, and the other sections on eg verbal reasoning are truly shite). Do this and you’ll see nothing in the exam you don’t at least vaguely recognise from before – for the sociopolitical essay, get a copy of The Spirit Level and learn a couple choice factoids. Choose 5 and you’ll get at least one in – for the emotional/cultural/philosophical essay, forget your pride and self-respect – don’t waste your money on ridiculously expensive courses.
  • Practice papers! The exam is designed to make you feel defeated it doesn’t mean you did badly, everyone feel that way.
  • Go into the exam armed with 5 or 6 interesting anecdotes that can be tweaked slightly to fit just about any theme that comes up in the essay writing section and you won’t go far wrong, clever anecdotes that address a theme in an abstract manner are received better than standard opinion-based essays.
  • There’s no need to do any courses just practice as many questions as possible. Watching TedTalks really helped with the essay questions.

 

Who Are They?

The class itself is a diverse group of people, ranging in age from early twenties up to early/mid thirties. Some have come straight from their primary degree, and many have spent several years working in the ‘real world’ before returning to university. They are not robots. Many of the physicians and surgeons who come in to give tutorials to the class comment on their maturity, ingenuity, dedication and social skills which is characteristic of many classes of graduate-entry medical students. Of those who wrote down the above advice, 19 came from a science background (half of which were biological or medical science), 3 were business, 1 computer science, 1 law, 1 engineer and 6 were from humanities and social sciences.

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