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June 01, 2023, 09:33:12 pm

Author Topic: GAMSAT Advice (for Monash Biomedders, but applicable elsewhere)  (Read 3544 times)  Share 

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GAMSAT Advice (for Monash Biomedders, but applicable elsewhere)
« on: December 28, 2021, 01:52:08 pm »

Hi everyone, Iím a biomed doctor-wannabe who has recently completed the September 2021 GAMSAT and scored a 76 weighed (98th percentile) and 73 unweighed (65/67/86). I would like to share some experiences on how to do well on the gammie (especially on S3). At first glance, the gammie may look super scary, I mean, who isnít intimidated by a 4.5 hr exam? However, you might be surprised at how minor changes in test-taking routines/strategies can make your life a million times easier.

On the day of the GAMSAT: Believe it or not, sitting the September GAMSAT during Melbourne lockdown 6.0 has certain advantages. For starters, S3 is sat on a different day to sections 1 and 2 (which are on the same day), ensuring that you are refreshed by the time you start it. However, you presumably won't have this luxury in March 2022, but you can still replicate it as much as possible. I sat a full length GAMSAT back in March 2021 and I can assure you that your brain will be fried by the time S3 begins. To remedy this, you must first stay hydrated (but you should also avoid going to the bathroom, my hack is to drink in little sips frequently as opposed to huge gulps at a time, you learn in physiology units that huge decreases in plasma osmolarity due to drinking lots of water will cause your body to break down circulating vasopressin, the hormone that prevents peeing). During the lunch break, eat a muesli bar which will both absorb the extra water thatís likely to steal a few minutes from you in a bathroom break and provide you with enough low-GI energy to power through S3 without a sugar crash. DO NOT under any circumstances eat a full meal during lunch break, you will feel drowsy right afterwards. If you want caffeine boosts, I found green tea to be a more sustainable source than coffee (no infamous coffee caffeine crash), but YMMV.

S1: My score was pretty average so I donít have much to say about it. Please be aware that S1 requires fast reading skills and the ability to distinguish nuances between words. There's an element of luck to it because the options they give you for each question might be really nice or too similar to each other for you to distinguish. Although for certain questions they direct you to look at a specific line, you often need to view the preceding paragraphs in order for your answer to make sense in context (many distractor options wouldíve been otherwise correct except they donít suit the textís context). You may think that S1 is reading comprehension, but thereís more to it than that. Be prepared for some questions on logic and even some problem solving questions.

S2: I canít stress this enough, but itís absolutely non-negotiable to use 5 minutes to plan each of your essays. It will help your cohesion and you wonít be cutting and pasting which adversely impacts both organisation and time-keeping. From personal experience, the examiners seem to love it when you demonstrate your knowledge of history which is my favourite branch of humanities, but some psychology and philosophy may also help. The TEAL structure will continue to serve you well in S2, here the "evidence" is drawn from your knowledge of humanities that you can use to support your contention whereas "analysis" is just you giving your own opinion on why the evidence supports your contention. Make sure to refer to the topic/s you've chosen at all times so the assessors know you're conscious of staying on topic, which is your number 1 task in S2. As a fail safe, include the quote given to you in the topic in your introduction, but if it sticks out like a sore thumb, reword it. The essays must also conform to the expected style, so your task A should be persuasive and factual in tone as itís an argumentative piece. Task B is creative writing, this was the section I struggled with personally, but I found a secret weapon. Although all of us saw the GAT in VCE as a meme (I personally had way too much fun than I should have with the GATchphrase the year I graduated), I found that its written communications section is very similar in format to GAMSAT S2, smashing out a few of those past GAT papers may help with task B and to a lesser extent, task A.

S3: As some of you may know, the GAMSAT has become more reasoning-based rather than content-based over the past few years. This means that there is less memorisation to do because everything you need will be provided in the question stem. I should note that despite this reduction in assumed knowledge, having them is very helpful as this saves you time reading the question stems. Also, the method or equation they provide you arenít always the most convenient ones to use, sometimes it's up to you to devise a shortcut based on the info given in order to finish the exam in time.

From the GAMSAT info booklet, you need to know 1st year bio + chem and year 12 physics for S3. This is only true to a certain extent. After sitting the GAMSAT twice, I felt they sometimes examined you on stuff outside the scope of Monash's 1st year science programs, so they're probably sourcing examinable content from Unimelb's 1st year syllabus. Other times, the questions aren't testing your knowledge of the sciences per se, they may ask you worded problems in maths or logic that just happen to have bio or chem as context. These problem solving questions are reminiscent of S1 on the UMAT.

Some of the organic chem stuff exceeded the 2nd year level here (CHM2911), but if you have taken 1st year organic chem (CHM1022/1052), you can reason your way through it because they provide some explanations in the stem. Knowing how mechanisms (curly arrow diagrams) work is very useful for explaining things surrounding resonance or conjugation. Knowing the different forms of structural drawings, especially semistructural and skeletal structures, is non-negotiable. You must also be very familiar with functional groups and IUPAC naming conventions, as well as different types of isomers (optical and constitutional). Although Monash teaches biochem in a separate area of study from organic chem, biochem knowledge eg amino acids and metabolic pathways are also good to know (no need to memorise metabolism as it's given to you in the stem).

For the bio section, I found reading random physiology papers published in academic journals to be very beneficial. The researchers present their findings in mindmap-like schematics that illustrate the interactions of molecules, cells or organs contributing to homeostasis. To develop intuition in bio reasoning, you must know how to navigate your way around these to predict trends in metabolite/hormone levels or direction of change required for homeostasis in response to a stimulus. For the chemically orientated, you can think of homeostasis as Le Chateliers Principle applied on a macroscopic and biological scale. The best thing to do is to revise your 1st year bio carefully, but you don't need to know the nitty gritties. Bio can also overlap with physics eg blood circulation can be modelled using electric circuits to which the Kirchoff rules apply. If you make links of the other sciences to bio, you'll be more motivated to study for them since you can see how it relates to bio which is the most relevant science for medicine.

Many questions are based on the interpretation of graphs, so make sure you understand the key features of graphs (be careful of the axes' scales as well as they might be logarithmic or reciprocal). This includes understanding what the gradient, intercepts or intersection with other lines/curves on the same graph represent. To improve graph reading, analytical chem units are very good cuz you're plotting one or more graphs every week, sometimes involving different axes scales.

In terms of physics, I'm well aware that it's usually BMS students' least confident topic since many of us haven't done it in high school. Biophysics will serve you very well, so revise its content if you're terrified by the physics section. Many physics or physical chem questions can be approached via dimensional analysis, if you're given 2 quantities and the units of the final answer, but not the formula, you manipulate the known quantities using mathematical operations until all extraneous units are cancelled out. For example, if you're asked to find the number of moles of e-s during electrolysis when given the time, current and Faraday's constant without the formula, you would approach it the following way: since current is in A which is in Coulomb per seconds and time is in seconds, multiply these (cancelling the secs) to acquire a quantity in C, which is a unit of charge. Since you're asked for something in mol, and the Faraday's constant is given in C/mol, you divide the charge you've found in your first step by Faraday's constant to cancel out the Cs and move the mol to the numerator side of the fraction, yielding the correct answer. I didn't do physics in high school and while I'd say BMS1031 allows you to answer 80%+ of the physics questions on the GAMSAT, it's still a good idea to get the year 12 physics textbook. Protip: whenever the background of a graph in physics questions has grids, 99% of the time you're asked to find the area under it in one way or another.

I've covered most of physical/general chem in the paragraph above since the theory is very similar to physics (would really recommend taking CHM1011/1051, unfortunately Chris Thompson is leaving), but it really is all about applying different formulas given to you. Be very familiar with logs and exponentials cuz you will need these when dealing with pH and pKa. Rate equations for 0th to 3rd order are also important, make sure you can determine half lives and distinguish between amount decayed/reacted vs amount remaining.

As you may have guessed by now, maths is the hidden 4th science on the GAMSAT. Apart from the maths I've mentioned in the paragraphs detailing the other sciences, there are some arithmetic hacks in maths to make your life a billion times easier. When you're given numerical values, convert them into scientific notation, it makes cancelling 0s much easier and less error prone (power rule for exponentials FTW). If something starts with an 8 or 9, you can get away with rounding it up to save time. Vice versa for 1 or 2.

This shall conclude my mother of all posts, hope it was remotely informative, if you have any questions about the GAMSAT or biomed/CHM units, my DMs are always open.

-Biomed boi xoxo (PS don't bother watching the reboot of Gossip Girl it sucks)
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

UMAT: 56/43/80, 57th percentile (LLLLOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLL)

ATAR: 98.1

2019-2021: Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

GAMSAT September 2021: 65/67/86, 76 overall (98th percentile)

2022: Chilling

2023+: Transfer to teaching degree