How to Master GAMSAT Timing

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.

Mastering GAMSAT timing is a key part of exam success. To earn a top score, it’s not enough to work your way through the test carefully to determine the correct answers. Rather, you must get the correct answers in the shortest possible time. Succeeding in the GAMSAT is dependent on answering a variety of questions both accurately and quickly.

If you’re struggling with GAMSAT timing, or want to find out what you’re up against, we cover everything you need to know in this article. Read on to learn why effective pacing is necessary and how to manage the time pressure in each section of the GAMSAT.

Just starting to prepare for the GAMSAT? Check out our top tips to succeed in the GAMSAT, 10 common preparation mistakes to avoid and GAMSAT FAQ.

Table of contents

Why is GAMSAT pacing important?
How long is the GAMSAT exam?
What are the GAMSAT section times?
How do I manage GAMSAT Section 1 timing?
How do I manage GAMSAT Section 2 timing?
How do I manage GAMSAT Section 3 timing?
How can I improve my pacing during GAMSAT preparation?

Why is GAMSAT pacing important?

It’s important to know how to pace yourself in the exam for a number of reasons:

  • The GAMSAT is deliberately time-pressured to differentiate between very capable students. Being able to answer both quickly and accurately will set you apart from other applicants who don’t accomplish both successfully.
  • Mastering your timing can significantly increase your chances of getting a high GAMSAT score. On the other hand, if you’re stressed due to running out of time, this can negatively impact your performance.
  • Graduate entry is more competitive than direct entry, which means you’ll need to prove yourself more to dental or medical schools that you apply to. Scoring highly in the GAMSAT could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.

The key takeaway is to not underestimate the importance of good pacing, as working on your timing well ahead of your exam will pay off when sitting the GAMSAT. Keep in mind that pacing is not simply answering questions more quickly, rather it’s answering shorter and simpler questions more quickly. This allows more time for longer and more challenging questions.

How long is the GAMSAT exam?

For GAMSAT 2024 testing, the exam is divided into two parts:

1) Written Communication (previously Section 2)
2) Humanities and Biological Sciences (previously Section 1 and 3)

Section 2 runs for 65 minutes and is delivered via remote proctoring – you will sit this part of the exam approximately two weeks before Section 1 and 3. Section 1 and 3 are delivered at a test centre and run for 4 hours and 10 minutes, although you can expect to spend around 5 hours and 30 minutes at the test venue. There are two test centre sessions per day for Section 1 and 3, so you can choose between an AM (8am–1.50pm) or PM (2.30pm–8.20pm) session.

What are the GAMSAT section times?

See below for the GAMSAT exam format and how much time you have per section:

GAMSAT section

Section time

Questions

Time per question

Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Section (previously Section 1)

100 minutes

62

1 minute 36 seconds

Written Communication Section (previously Section 2)

65 minutes

2

30 minutes

Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences Section (previously Section 3)

150 minutes

75

2 minutes

How do I manage GAMSAT Section 1 timing?

Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Section (previously Section 1)

  • Minutes: 100
  • Questions: 62

It’s your choice how much of the 100 minutes to allow for each of the 62 questions, but we recommend experimenting with different approaches to reading the passage, as this will affect the amount of time you’ll need per question. For example, if there are 15 passages and you adopt the approach of skimming the passage, you could pace yourself as follows:

Section 1 – Skimming

Number of items

Time per item

Time required

Passages

15

1 minute

15 minutes

Questions

62

1 minute

62 minutes

Total

77 minutes

If you skim all the passages and answer each question in one minute, you would need 77 minutes to complete the section. This is a fairly quick pace, but the advantage is that you have 23 minutes of additional time that you could use for longer passages or trickier questions. We recommend saving the most difficult questions until the end as it’s smarter to lock in marks with easier questions first. 

You should work on your pacing with practice questions and during every practice test, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of spending too long on more complex questions. It’s also critical that you don’t leave any questions unanswered. You must leave yourself enough time to answer every question, even if you have to make a logical guess for some. If you guess, you have a 25% chance of getting the answer right, compared to a 0% chance when leaving the question blank.

Learn more about this section in our ultimate guide to GAMSAT Section 1

How do I manage GAMSAT Section 2 timing?

Written Communication Section (previously Section 2)

  • Minutes: 65
  • Questions: 2

In Section 2 of the GAMSAT, you’ll be required to write two essays in approximately 30 minutes each. This section can become tough when you move onto your second essay as you may begin to become fatigued, and it’s easy to lose momentum. To help combat this, you should plan your essays properly so you know what to write, and can do so within the time limit. 

We recommend using the following approach to plan, write, and review each essay:

1. Assess the task (2 minutes)

Start off by identifying the theme and selecting which comments to address. This will ensure that you display the quality of thought that’s expected from you.

2. Plan your essay (8 minutes total)

Planning is made up of two tasks – you should spend equal time on each:

Brainstorm ideas (4 minutes): Think about key points on both sides of the theme and come up with a couple of examples for each side based on the comments you want to discuss. In this step, you should also decide what your own opinion is, which will be included in the conclusion. 

Outline your essay (4 minutes): Before you begin writing your essay, it’s essential that you organise your thoughts logically and coherently. We recommend structuring your essay as follows:

  • Introduction (identify the theme and topic)
  • Body paragraph 1 (explore one side of the issue with examples)
  • Body paragraph 2 (explore the other side of the issue with examples)
  • Conclusion (state your own opinion)

3. Write your essay (17–18 minutes)

After 10 minutes of preparation, you’re ready to write a clear and logical essay. Take care to structure each paragraph appropriately. For example, you should start each paragraph with a key point, followed by a citation of your evidence (your reasons or examples), followed by an explanation of your evidence.

4. Review your essay (2–3 minutes)

Allow two or three minutes at the end of the 30 minutes to re-read your essay and make sure that you’ve written exactly what you meant to say. This is also an ideal time to check for any obvious spelling, grammar or language errors, such as missing words.

Learn more about this section in our ultimate guide to GAMSAT Section 2 

How do I manage GAMSAT Section 3 timing?

Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences Section (previously Section 3)

  • Minutes: 75
  • Questions: 150

Section 3 is the longest section with the most questions, so you may find it tough even if you have a science background or strong problem-solving skills. Also, by the time you've completed Section 1, it's likely that you'll be mentally exhausted. This means it's critical that you dedicate enough time to perfecting your pacing. Here are some key tips to keep in mind during practice sessions:

  • Use the time stamp technique – With 75 questions to answer in 150 minutes, you have around two minutes per question. You should use this as a rough guide to pace yourself. For example, after an hour, you should aim to have answered 30 questions. We recommend writing this down on the paper or whiteboard provided at the beginning of each section as a reminder. It’s likely that you won’t be able to get through all the questions in time, so adjust your time stamp to match your general performance level. 
  • Practise triaging – Learn how to recognise simpler and ‘easier’ questions and answer these first before moving onto more difficult questions. With this technique, you could potentially answer two or three easier questions in the time it would take you to answer one challenging question. Remember, all questions are worth equal marks in the GAMSAT. It doesn’t make sense to waste time on harder questions if you can secure marks on easier questions first.
  • Don’t be misled by ‘two minutes per question’ – Reading and understanding the stimulus is included in those two minutes, so make sure you factor this in when practising. Set yourself a more realistic target, such as a minute and a half per question, to allow enough time to fully grasp the stimulus. Note that you may be able to save time by skim reading long stimuli if you can work out the answer based on a small amount of text.

  • Bookmark questions that cause you to freeze – With enough GAMSAT practice, hopefully there won’t be any questions that make you freeze on test day, but there is always a risk that this can happen. If you find yourself staring at a question for longer than 10 seconds without any idea of how to answer it, you can lose valuable time. It’s better to bookmark it and move on immediately, and then revisit it before you finish the section.
  • Save time at the end to answer every question – The GAMSAT is so time-intensive that it’s unlikely that most students will fully solve all questions. Make sure you leave time at the end of the section to go over any unanswered questions. Ideally you should be able to make a logical guess, but if not, a blind guess is better than no guess at all as there is no penalty for wrong answers.
Learn more about this section in our ultimate guide to GAMSAT Section 3

How can I improve my pacing during GAMSAT preparation?

You can’t be in control of the GAMSAT without both accuracy and speed. To achieve this, we recommend practising questions untimed first, then timed. At the start of your preparation period, your focus should be on experimenting with different strategies and techniques to increase your accuracy. Once you’re comfortable with answering questions, your aim should be to improve your pacing within practice sessions.

As test endurance is necessary for success, it’s essential that you practise with full mocks during your preparation period, and simulate the exam as much as possible. For example, if you always practise Section 1 and 2 on the same day, or complete Section 3 on its own first thing in the morning, this wouldn’t mirror the actual test day experience. 

Succeed in the GAMSAT with Medify

We understand that pursuing graduate entry medicine or dentistry can be a difficult and exhausting journey for many students. Dental and medical schools expect you to jump over several hurdles to prove your ability, as well as your commitment to succeed. At Medify, our aim is to support you throughout this journey, and help you overcome every hurdle.

If you’re struggling to increase your score while studying for the GAMSAT, our GAMSAT Online Course can enable you to take control of the exam:

  • Practise with 2,000+ original GAMSAT-style questions
  • Simulate the exam with 7 realistic and unique GAMSAT mocks
  • Learn from GAMSAT experts with 50+ in-depth tutorials
  • Access Medify’s science syllabus with key topics for biology, chemistry, and physics

Not ready to jump into our GAMSAT preparation course just yet? 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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