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GAMSAT For Dummies

Discussion in 'GAMSAT' started by ganjamozart, May 19, 2016.

  1. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    I took the Ireland 2016 March GAMSAT and results came out two weeks ago. I have heard often that GAMSAT March is harder than the September (not sure if verified) but the cumulative graph indicated that the 50th percentile rank score was 54 which by usual standards is quite low.

    This was the graph that came with my results.
    upload_2016-5-19_17-40-9.png

    I ended up scoring 76 despite under performing in section 1 after taking painkillers for a fever and feeling very groggy during section 1. After 5 months of preparation. I scored
    S1: 64
    S2: 86
    S3: 76

    UPDATE: Having done the September exam, my total score went up to 82. A rise in both S1 and S3, and a slight drop in S2. I think the S1 rise is attributable simply to more practice, S2 drop was due to not practising essays anymore (got fed up) and the S3 increase was due to practice and better understanding of Physics.

    Previous to taking up GAMSAT, I did Economics at LSE and worked in Investment Banking. For A levels, I hadn't done any sciences (I did Maths, Further Maths, Economics, Politics, Music & French). At university I wrote a handful of short essays in my first year, and none since.

    As a result, I was approaching all sections of the GAMSAT at the worst possible starting point. I wasted an incredible amount of time looking for appropriate resources, and there is a huge amount of misinformation on the internet with what the appropriate resources are and hopefully I can help with regard to this and the best way to revise for the exam. There are a lot of 'agents' posing to be users and trying to give their books a good reputation on the forums. In addition, there are people who sell books (especially on gumtree) but the books are not what they are described to be, so I urge you to be especially diligent when buying second hand books and not end up wasting money and energy like I did.

    I think it would take far too long, if I were to write up on everything, but if you have specific questions about each section, or about what study materials I used, feel free to message me or post here, and I will look to get back to you as soon as possible. Here is however a quick snapshot of the material that I came across with another friend I was studying with and how we thought they ranked.

    Collins Advanced Science 8/10: good for general knowledge, if you are jumping into the science at the deep end.

    GAMSAT Gold Standard 3/10: other than the practice paper at the end of the book, this book pissed me off. It's marketed as the holy grail of GAMSAT, but it's way too shallow, and the stupid cat animation drove me crazy.

    Grad Med Science books & sample exam papers 8/10: Organic chemistry is not great, physical chemistry, biology and physics good. Exam papers, very similar to the real thing. Don't go on the course, you can easily just teach yourself.

    Ozimed Sample Papers 7/10: Very recall based, so unlike GAMSAT in this respect, but a good starting point to check your science knowledge. Verbal reasoning, way too easy.

    Guru Method 7/10: It's decent. Nothing spectacular, their collection of questions are fairly similar to the GAMSAT.

    Medprep Sample Papers 7/10: Fairly similar to actual GAMSAT.

    Des O'neill 9/10: Epic question bank, endless questions, several practice papers. All the practice you need and more. You can get it cheap as PDF.

    Griffiths Review 8/10: Good overview, cheap, worth getting.

    N.B. Obviously get the acer material!

    If you have any further queries, drop them here!

    Disclaimer: I don't have any material to sell, I can only advise, as I have already lent my books to a colleague who is now studying for the GAMSAT himself.
     
    #1 ganjamozart, May 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
    Martigan likes this.
  2. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    76 is a very good score. No doors are closed to you on this basis, it's now about making sure the rest of your application is on par.
     
    ganjamozart likes this.
  3. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Your advice was great in terms of using the Collins a level books to cover all the foundational knowledge!

    Do you have any tips for interview prep? I'm doing plenty of volunteering and Georges is my first choice but I'm unsure what to focus on in terms of MMI interviews...
     
  4. Aim89

    Aim89 New Member

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    Hi :) Well done on achieving 76; that's a fantastic score! I am hoping to take the GAMSAT exam next Sep so have a year to prepare but I think I may need it! I have no Science background (apart from GCSE almost 10 years ago!) and so wondered what textbooks you would suggest using? I would need to self-study because I simply can't afford to buy all of the suggested GAMSAT prep that's out there at a £200+ each! Thank you in advance :)
     
  5. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    All you need is a standard a-level text for Chem and Bio and an AS-level Physics revision text book. Plus the ACER practice/sample papers/test and you should be fine. If you can also grab a copy of the Griffiths Gamsat review, you should be minted!
     
  6. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Start early and you won't have any problems.

    If you can get hold of it, try and get the question bank from Des O'neill in pdf cheap. There are people selling it on this forum. I used that for section 1 and 3 along with the official acer papers. They have so many questions, and at the end of the day, the exam is how fast you can go through the questions and digest the information so practice is paramount. The time pressure is a bit stupid especially for Section 3....

    Oh and I listened to Martigan's advice, just got some a level books, and use khan academy to understand.

    For organic chemistry, I also got the organic chemistry for dummies book. It's rather good.


    http://revisegamsat.com/topics/essay-questions.1.html

    I used this website for section 2. It's easy to ramp up your marks for section 2 compared to section 1 I reckon.

    The key for section 2 is to do a lot of practice essays. When you initially start writing the essays, don't try to do it under the time limit, but take an hour or more, to construct really great 500 word or so essays, then start speeding up. The section 2 is subdivided into two sections (Task A & B). The task A is quite broad in nature, considering wider societal issues. War, censorship, democracy and so on. For this section, I always used actual examples, and as the essays are short and concise, (2 essays in an hour), going all abstract is normally detrimental to your mark. The structure you can use the Griffith's review.

    The task B tends to be more reflective, so I wrote it in a more emotive tone. How it affected me, what I have learned from the experience and so on...
     
    #6 ganjamozart, Aug 2, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  7. Ak Shahz

    Ak Shahz New Member

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    Hi. Can you please advise me material you study. I am planning to give test in September and I just have a month to study.thanks in advance
    Kind regards
    AK
     
  8. Aim89

    Aim89 New Member

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    Thank you Martigan! From scanning various threads on this site, I can see that you are the man in the know! :) Would you say that the Griffiths GAMSAT review is still relevant even though it is now over 10 years old? I'm not sure how much the structure/ type of questions of the exam change?

    I'm working my way through A-Level Chemistry and Biology at the moment but am finding myself writing out the whole text book with no clue what will be relevant as I'm not sure what kind of topics/ questions will come up in the exam. I am definitely going to purchase the ACER past papers but was holding off until nearer the time so that I can purchase the 'most recent' paper - do you think this is a wise move or is there not much difference between each years content?

    Thank you!
     
  9. Aim89

    Aim89 New Member

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    Hi Ganjamozart! Thank you for the advice. The Des O'Neill pdf doesn't seem to be available anymore so is the only way to get hold of it now by buying second-hand? I'm just a little dubious on buying e docs second hand as they're often not what people say they are! :/ I will be buying the ACER docs nearer the time so do you think this would be enough or should I definitely try to get my hands on the Des O'Neil as well?

    At the moment, the first hurdle seems to be simply trying to get my head around what kind of exam this is, and whether I actually need to learn (and remember) A-Level Chemistry, Biology and Physics in order to pass; it's pretty daunting to say the least! Ha. I'm hoping the Griffiths Review will help to make sense of it all but any further advice would be much appreciated. Thanks! :)
     
  10. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    I'm getting less in the know as time progresses...

    I know that Griffiths used to update his review every year or so, however to my knowledge the exam hasn't changed.

    Similarly the ACER booklets didn't seem to change their content, just their covers...

    If there has be a recent shift, I have missed it. However it is possible as I'm not as close to what is going I as I used to be.
     
  11. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Hi, if I may add my two cents.

    The way you stated that you were learning, copying out textbooks, is the exact thing I did initially in my revision, and something that is wholly detrimental and a waste of time for the GAMSAT. You can sit the exam probably without any knowledge, and get a pretty good mark on section 3, if you are an extremely talented at analysing given information.

    This is why even if you don't know the sciences, I would recommend that you look and attempt the questions at the beginning of your revision, so that you understand the style and content of the questions. Get hold of second hand stuff with careful due diligence.

    The books are relevant, regardless of the time period, I think the only adjustment they have made in the last decade or so is banning the usage of calculators, and the phrasing of the questions in section 2, where you don't have to reply to one specific quote.

    I sat the September exam in London, just to see if it's easier than the March one and if I would get an even higher score. It was bizarre, even more interpretation based (tons of graphs to analyse) and with such a heavy focus on chemistry. So if anything, if you base your revision on recall, it's not going to help you. The only thing it would help is knowing reaction mechanisms off the top of your head for organic chemistry.

    I would say around less than 10% of section 3 questions are actually based on any form of recall. I would recommend that you get hold of questions banks that I mentioned earlier in the thread asap, after vetting the sellers properly, in order to practice questions, and develop your understanding of the concepts rather than just memorising.

    Start section 2 early as well, as the return per hour of practice is greater comparative to S1 and S3, imo.
     
  12. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    I just did the questions in my science text book. Didn't do any copying...

    That's what I liked about the Collins advanced science books.the had questions all the way through.
     
  13. coolrunnings

    coolrunnings New Member

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    @Martigan did you use the Collins Advanced Biology or Human Biology?

    Thanks !
     
  14. coolrunnings

    coolrunnings New Member

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    @ganjamozart how long did it take you to go through all of the Des O'Neill materials? Particularly the Section 1 and Section 3 books? How did you approach this?

    And when did you take the Acer exams?

    Basically, it would be great to hear a little more about the details of your schedule.

    FWIW: I'm a current investment banker applying for graduate medicine next year :)

    Thanks!
     
  15. coolrunnings

    coolrunnings New Member

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    Oh, also, how did you do on the September exam, or haven't you heard yet?
     
  16. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Hey coolrunnings, good to hear from a fellow banker! The September exam results come out in mid November!

    I asked Martigan for the textbooks, and the ones I used was the Advanced Science books, Physics, Chemistry and (normal Biology). I don't know the extent of your scientific background, but I didn't actually use the Advanced Science books too much, rather Khan academy, as well as the 'for Dummies' series helped a lot especially with organic chemistry.

    I would also recommend (if you can get hold of them) Grad Med preparation material (only if you can get it cheap), they have very GAMSAT specific content, which I found useful. Their organic chemistry book was terrible, the physical chemistry was great (especially easy if you are mathematically minded), Biology was good, and Physics was good too. Their sample exam papers were very GAMSAT like as well, but their verbal reasoning papers are way more difficult than actual GAMSAT level, but still nonetheless a good source of practice.

    I took my first GAMSAT exam in March 2016, and took another one to see if I can get a higher score in the September one. Also, it is worth keeping in mind that, for some Universities, if your MMI scores are the same with another candidate, they revert back to your GAMSAT score to pick the candidates, so it never hurts to have a high GAMSAT score.

    I left the job near to December, as it was also imperative for me to get some solid work experience under my belt. Also it's worth factoring in that when you apply to volunteering positions, it takes a long time for all the enhanced CRB checks and whatnot to go through, so it's better to start early than late. I aimed to do one chapter a day of the Verbal book and one chapter a day of the Science book after work (took me 2-3 hours), but this was hard, as you will be more than aware! So in November and December I did some work, but not too much.

    But after I quit for two and a half months, I could do, 2 chapters of each a day and wrote one essay every day. I did all the sample papers twice under timed conditions.

    Now that I have more time I will write in full all the materials I used and found good. Some materials mentioned below, I borrowed from a friend just to see how good they were.

    Collins Advanced Science 8/10: good for general knowledge, if you are jumping into the science at the deep end.

    GAMSAT Gold Standard 3/10: other than the practice paper at the end of the book, this book pissed me off. It's marketed as the holy grail of GAMSAT, but it's way too shallow, and the stupid cat animation drove me crazy.

    Grad Med Science books & sample exam papers 8/10: Organic chemistry is not great, physical chemistry, biology and physics good. Exam papers, very similar to the real thing. Don't go on the course, you can easily just teach yourself.

    Ozimed Sample Papers 7/10: Very recall based, so unlike GAMSAT in this respect, but a good starting point to check your science knowledge. Verbal reasoning, way too easy.

    Guru Method 7/10: It's decent. Nothing spectacular, their collection of questions are fairly similar to the GAMSAT.

    Medprep Sample Papers 7/10: Fairly similar to actual GAMSAT.

    Des O'neill 9/10: Epic question bank, endless questions, several practice papers. All the practice you need and more. You can get it cheap as PDF.

    Griffiths Review 8/10: Good overview, cheap, worth getting.

    N.B. Obviously get the acer material!

    If you have any further queries, drop them here!
     
  17. coolrunnings

    coolrunnings New Member

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    Wow, great response. Thanks !

    Do you mind sharing your source for the GradMed and Des O'Neill? Or could you share / sell the materials?

    Thank you!
     
  18. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Unfortunately, I have sold them/lent them to my friends for the upcoming March exam already... :(
     
  19. coolrunnings

    coolrunnings New Member

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    No worries. I think I have it all already anyway...My rough plan is to spend 3-4 months going through the Collins Advanced Sciences, Organic Chem for Dummies and the GradMed notes, then spend 1-2 months doing all of the practice papers (Acer, GradMed, Des O'Neills, Griffiths) and the Des O'Neills MCQs.

    I'm working until early March but will have around 4 weeks off immediately preceding the exam.

    Why did you go through all the sample papers twice? Didn't you remember the answers lol?

    Also, how early on did you do your first practice paper, and would you recommend doing one before even learning / reviewing the content? If so, which one would you "waste" so early?

    Thanks !
     
  20. ganjamozart

    ganjamozart Member

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    Just make sure not to overpay, you shouldn't be spending a lot, the Collins books were the priciest total that I paid for (except the time I got ripped off by a medical student)...

    Rather than slavishly going through all the collins books, use the 'syllabus' provided in the Griffiths review, to choose the topics to study, there's not really much point going overboard with learning topics that won't come up.

    I would use an acer paper to sacrifice, as early as possible, that way you won't recall most of the answers.

    There is great value in redoing the papers because the GAMSAT is 'other than knowledge' very much information analysis. As such, even if you recall the questions, the options for the answers are too similar for you to rely on memory, and you will need to analyse the information again. Sort of thing of advanced science based SHL aptitude exams but for medical school is a way of thinking about it.

    Don't spend too much time on memorising but just practice and absorb the concepts. You have plenty of time, and if things don't go well in March, you still have the September one to do, so kudos to you for starting so early!
     

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