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?
It’s important to know how to pace yourself in the exam for a number of reasons:
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.
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.
See below for the GAMSAT exam format and how much time you have per section:
Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Section (previously Section 1)
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:
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
Written Communication Section (previously Section 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:
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
Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences Section (previously Section 3)
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:
Learn more about this section in our ultimate guide to GAMSAT Section 3
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.
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