10 Common GAMSAT Preparation Mistakes to Avoid

GAMSAT

12/1/2024

Please note:

  • ‘Section I: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences’ has been renamed to ‘Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Section’
  • ‘Section II: Written Communication’ has been renamed to ‘Written Communication Section’
  • ‘Section III: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences’ has been renamed to ‘Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences Section’

To ensure this article is easy to follow, we’ll refer to these sections as ‘Section 1’, ‘Section 2’, and ‘Section 3’ throughout. Read about the latest changes to the GAMSAT.


Just started preparing for the GAMSAT and wondering what pitfalls to avoid? Or have you been practising for a while but can’t improve your score? In this article, we go through the top 10 common GAMSAT mistakes made while preparing for the exam, to prevent you from making them too.

Table of contents

1. Rote learning instead of building skills

2. Not preparing for long enough

3. Rushing into timed practice

4. Not building mental and physical stamina

5. Neglecting your wellbeing

6. Not experimenting with different strategies

7. Ignoring weaknesses and concentrating too much on strengths

8. Not focusing on all three GAMSAT sections

9. Preparing inefficiently for the exam

10. Not simulating the test environment

1. Rote learning instead of building skills

The GAMSAT is not a memory test. Rather, it’s testing your ability to reason, communicate, and problem solve. These are life-long skills that you’ll need to thrive in a medicine or dentistry career in the future. Before starting GAMSAT preparation, it’s important to remind yourself of the following:

The GAMSAT is unlike any exam you have sat before. Sitting the GAMSAT is different to other admissions tests, or exams you will have taken in secondary school or university. You will be presented with questions in challenging and unfamiliar contexts which will require understanding and practice to overcome. Unlike other exams you may have sat before, you don’t get more marks for harder questions. A quick and simple question is worth one mark, while a difficult and time-consuming question is also worth one mark.

The test was designed to be tough for even the brightest students. Therefore, simply memorising information is not going to cut it – you must build and refine the necessary skills needed to succeed in the exam. This is especially true for GAMSAT Section 3, where some students may confuse this part of the exam with a recall test. Remember, it’s the application of skills and knowledge that matters, which is why practising questions during your preparation period is vital.

Learn more about the GAMSAT exam in our GAMSAT FAQ. This article covers 30+ common questions about the GAMSAT, including how the GAMSAT is scored, which dental and medical schools require the GAMSAT, and what skills are being tested.

2. Not preparing for long enough

Cramming in revision for a test that requires you to develop and hone various skills is not an effective strategy for exam success. Although preparation times will vary depending on the individual, we don’t advise leaving your studies until the last minute for a number of reasons:

  • If you spend a few weeks going over material that could have been spread out over a few months, you will need to work at a pace that is likely to become unmanageable, causing you to become stressed. Now consider that the GAMSAT is already a stressful test – why would you intensify this pressure if you didn’t need to?
  • In our experience, top scoring students report that it’s more effective to prepare for an hour a day, rather than trying to set aside 6-8 hours of revision each day (which is what may be required if you were to cram rather than prepare).
  • As we’ve discussed previously, rote learning will be of negligible benefit when preparing for the GAMSAT. It takes time to build the skills required, and no one can predict how long that will take. It’s much safer to give yourself at least three months to prepare, although some students will need longer (6–12 months).

3. Rushing into timed practice

You must be methodical in your approach to preparing for the GAMSAT. A common GAMSAT mistake we see during GAMSAT preparation is rushing into timed practice too early into revision. Instead, we advise removing the pressure of timing and focusing on accuracy first. Once you’re comfortable with answering questions, then you can introduce timed practice.

In the GAMSAT exam, you’ll need to answer questions both accurately and quickly to get a top score. In order to do this, you must learn how to save time wherever possible, such as identifying complex questions and revisiting these after answering easier questions first. We explore time-saving techniques and go through how to manage the time pressure of the exam in our GAMSAT timing article.

4. Not building mental and physical stamina

Don’t underestimate the role of mindset in GAMSAT success. Although you’re preparing for an exam that is testing various abilities, you’re also preparing for a test of endurance. To succeed, you should spend time building your mental and physical stamina so that you can withstand the entire preparation journey.

Being mentally and physically agile will not only serve you well during each practice test, but is essential on your exam day too. Sections 1 and 3 at the test centre will take 4 hours with only a small break in the middle, so being able to perform at your best for a long duration is critical to success.

5. Neglecting your wellbeing

It’s natural to experience stress, anxiety, and self-doubt during this period. There may be days where you question your abilities, or perhaps your suitability to medicine or dentistry. There may even be moments where you feel like giving up entirely. During times like these, we encourage you to think about your ‘why’ – why are you taking the exam? Why is it important to do well in the exam? Ask yourself introspective questions to remind you of your future aspirations. You could even write down your goals and keep them somewhere visible to help you stay motivated.

We understand that it can be easy to prioritise everything but yourself, but this won’t pay off in the long run. You must look after yourself to avoid burnout – this includes eating well, exercising, and making time for activities that bring you joy. It’s especially important that you take it easy in the days leading up to your exam. At this point, your preparation should be complete, so it would be wise to spend this time introducing or increasing self-care.

6. Not experimenting with different strategies

There are many elements to GAMSAT success, such as addressing weaknesses, practising consistently, and adopting a positive mindset. However, if you’re still struggling to increase your score, it could be that your strategies are ineffective. Don’t be afraid to explore different techniques during GAMSAT preparation – in fact, we would highly recommend it.

Remember that different strategies will work for different people. For instance, you may find it’s better and more engaging to spend half of your revision time in a day doing Section 1 and 3 questions, enabling you to progress quicker. Whereas someone else might find that focusing on one section each day is more beneficial for their preparation. Experiment with various strategies to see what helps you to improve your performance the most.

7. Ignoring weaknesses and concentrating too much on strengths

Many students will subconsciously keep practising sections they’re good at to feel better about themselves during GAMSAT preparation. This is a very easy trap to fall into, but isn’t advisable for the following reasons:

  • Doing well in certain sections can provide a false sense of progress. Although you may be getting most questions correct in practice sessions, you’re ignoring the questions that you would likely get wrong in the exam.
  • In order to significantly improve your performance over time, you must identify your weaknesses and learn how to overcome them. It may feel uncomfortable at first, and could even make you doubt your abilities, but it’s an essential process to work through. Remember, discomfort is often the price we pay for growth.
  • It’s highly unlikely that the exam will only include what you’re good at, and miss out what you’re not good at. If you haven't prepared properly, or aren’t equipped to deal with questions of varying difficulty, this could deeply affect your state of mind during the test.
  • Remember that each section is timed separately and just because you’ve finished one section earlier doesn’t mean you have more time for the next section!

Something else to keep in mind is that, although focusing on your weaknesses is important, you shouldn’t completely neglect your strengths either. In fact, if you ever need a break from targeting weaknesses, doing practice questions that you find easier can actually boost morale. Also, in the week or so leading up to your exam, it may be more beneficial to brush up on your strengths.

8. Not focusing on all three GAMSAT sections

Similarly to focusing on strengths, it can be easy to spend too much time on some sections and not enough on others. You may subconsciously choose to practise sections that you’re naturally better at, rather than concentrating on what you find difficult, so this is something to be aware of.

Another common pitfall is assuming that you don’t need to practise certain sections. For example, if you have a strong science background, you may assume that Section 3 of the GAMSAT will be relatively easy compared to the others. While it may take you less time to become familiar with this section, having science knowledge does not necessarily mean you will do well in this section. It’s the application of particular skills, such as interpreting flowcharts, extrapolating graphs, and understanding complex schematics, that matters. This can only be mastered through practice.

Make sure you check out our ultimate guide to GAMSAT Section 1, GAMSAT Section 2, and GAMSAT Section 3.

9. Preparing inefficiently for the exam

Many people sitting the exam waste precious time by preparing ineffectively. This is particularly problematic for students who don’t spend long enough practising for the exam, as time is even more limited. One of the most common mistakes made is not reflecting on questions, or not spending enough time on reflection. It’s imperative that you understand why you got each question right or wrong – if you got it right, did it align with your understanding? If you got it wrong, what mistake did you make so that you can prevent it from happening again?

Other ways that you may be preparing ineffectively for the GAMSAT include:

  • Not doing enough practice questions – You need to put what you’ve learned into action to see results. While you shouldn’t rush into doing practice questions and full mocks too soon into your preparation, it’s also detrimental to leave it too close to your exam. You must allow enough time to work through as many questions and mocks as needed to improve your score.
  • Burning out – We recommend treating the exam like a marathon and not a sprint. Doing an hour or two of practice every day over several months, as opposed to cramming in several hours of practice over a few weeks, will significantly lower your chances of burnout.
  • Staying in your comfort zone – The most obvious example of this is focusing only on strengths. While it’s completely understandable why uncovering weaknesses could have a negative impact, you must push through the initial discomfort. Try to frame this process more positively, such as viewing weaknesses as opportunities to improve, rather than failures that will define your outcome in the GAMSAT exam.

If you’re struggling with morale during GAMSAT preparation, be kind to yourself, and remember that it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make. Every time you make a mistake, you gain information that can help you to not make it again. We cannot understate the importance of reflecting, learning, and practising, to increase your likelihood of doing well on exam day.

To ensure you get the most out of your time while preparing, read our GAMSAT preparation tips.

10. Not simulating the test environment

One of the biggest mistakes students make is not simulating the GAMSAT test environment. In order to build confidence and competence, and increase your chances of success, you must mirror the test conditions as closely as possible. For example, you should sit Section 1 and 3 mocks on the same day (either in the AM or PM, depending on when your test session is), and practise Section 2 separately.

Simulating the GAMSAT will increase your familiarity with the exam and lessen anxiety on test day, which could mean the difference between an average score and a top score.

Succeed in the GAMSAT with Medify

Do you need help while preparing for the GAMSAT? Consider using a trusted preparation course, such as our GAMSAT Online Course. It provides:

  • A robust Question Bank with 3,000+ original GAMSAT-style questions
  • 7 realistic and unique GAMSAT mock exams designed to simulate the real test
  • 50+ in-depth tutorials with guidance from GAMSAT experts
  • Medify’s science syllabus with key topics for biology, chemistry and physics

If you’re not ready to commit to our GAMSAT preparation course, check out our sample questions (Section I, Section II, Section III) and free cheat sheets to get a flavour of what to expect.

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