GAMSAT For Dummies

BlessingA

New Member
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.
View attachment 1240

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. However Khan academy and online resources are more than good enough to learn the science from, even from scratch.

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, just get the material cheap second hand. I would prioritise in getting some of the past exam papers over the 'textbooks'. Nice to have but not crucial.

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! I also found the Organic Chemistry for Dummies book rather good for learning organic chemistry from scratch.

If you are smart, you really shouldn't be spending more than 150 pounds even if you were to procure ALL (excepting the Collins Advanced Science Books - you can however find these in the local libraries, but even then Khan academy and online resources are more than good enough) the materials listed above. Don't get ripped off!



UPDATE: Now that I have some more time on my hands, I have written up some information with regards to how you can best prepare for the three sections.

Overview for section 1

The best way to improve in this section is to practice, practice and practice. Go back to each error you make and try and understand the specific set of critical reading skills that you are weak at. You will find that your weaknesses will tend to follow a general pattern. For example, I was never very strong at poetry analysis. If sufficient time passes, come back to the same questions and attempt them again, and see if you are improving in your weak areas. When the going gets tough, always remember, critical reading skills will stay with you for the long run, it's not like most other exams where you learn something for one exam only to forget it all a week later.


Overview for section 2

It is imperative that you start early and aim to write one or two essays everyday. Initially spend 45 minutes or so per essay really sculpting it. Make it into a model essay, research good examples that you can use etc. Closer to the exam, start speeding up and doing it all under timed conditions. Aim for 450-500 words.

The trick here is twofold, it is very unlikely for you on the exam day to sculpt two completely original 80+ essays in an hour.

The first trick is that good old regurgitation really helps in this regard, this is because the themes tend to overlap quite a lot. If you have written 30+ essays, you will find that you can regurgitate the well researched and well sculpted content from various essays that you used previously - like a pastiche.

The second trick is the 'titling of the essay'. You can provide clarity for the markers by providing a title for the essay. I normally used titles that were questions e.g. 'Is big government or small government more beneficial for societal well-being?' - it complements the essay structure that I have outline below (intro, for, against, synthesis (conclusion)). I cannot stress the importance of effective titling, because it allows you to direct the essay into an area where you have interest in (or into an area where you have written previous essays in) even if the quotes may not be explicitly referring to such an area. For example if politics and government are your areas of interest, quotes regarding surveillance could be transformed into an essay that is about state surveillance. Likewise, quotes regarding leadership can also be transformed into an essay about different government leadership structures and so on.

I use the same structure for Task A and Task B. If you have this framework, you won't waste time trying to plan the essay in the exam.

Task A & B - Introduction, argument 1, argument 2 (counter argument), conclusion (synthesis)

Task A - tends to be sociocultural/philosophical questions

Task B - tends to be more personal and reflective topics

Tone for task A - third person, more academic. Try and bring in factual examples, statistics, data, anything that you can use to show off your worldly knowledge! I think this is what really makes this essay shine.

Tone for task B - I normally approached these more personally and in a first person voice. However, the quotes can sometimes be interpreted in a more 'task A' manner and if so, feel free to write the essay in a task A style.


Overview for section 3

You will find that the traditional method of revision isn't very effective for the GAMSAT - e.g. going through the textbook and making notes etc.

I would recommend that you first attempt an ACER paper and try and get familiar with the GAMSAT style. You will then appreciate how the exam is very much about 'processing information' rather than regurgitating it for section 3, and you can direct your revision time and structure more effectively. You will also find that even without any science background, you can answer a surprising proportion of the questions through logic.

I used the Griffiths Review 'syllabus' as a rough guide and this http://www.gamsat.ie/ website 'syllabus' as a more in depth guide to structure my learning.

When tackling the topics, always make sure you have a solid conceptual understanding of what is going on. This is the most crucial aspect for success in section 3. This way, memorising formulas will be easy, as you can derive it rather than rely on rote memorisation. This can help save valuable time in section 3 as you will be under intense time pressure. Often the blurb provides more than sufficient information for you to solve questions, but ACER likes to distort simple formulas to catch you out, by switching out the variables etc.

The rest is again practice, practice and practice. The Des O'Neill is perfect for this.

If you have any further queries, drop them here!
Thank you soooo much for this my 2018 entry application got rejected so I'm trying to start earlier and I'm trying out GAMSAT this time
 

seni

New Member
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!

Hi, I just wonder when you say,

" 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."

was this from the Des science practice questions book and humanities practice questions book or the science revision course? I really need advice on how do I start as I feel so confused about this and worried about wasting time on stuff that might not be useful to do. Highly appreciate any guidance please.

Thanks a lot
 
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