We’re going to look into the best use of your time to ensure GAMSAT success, it’s hoped that at the end of this article you’ll have an insight into not only into the duration of the GAMSAT but also how best to manage your time to give yourself the best chance of passing.
Timings for the GAMSAT Test
The entire test takes place over a period of 330 minutes. That’s a lengthy time of 5 and a half hours, which is an awfully long time to have to sit and concentrate for. Luckily the longest period of time that you’ll be sat for in one session is just short of three hours, with section 1 and 2 to be completed in one sitting. After that academic marathon the testers have happily decided to let you have a lunch break of an hour before attempting the final section which will sit for ten minutes longer than the previous two sections, being 170 minutes to answer all the questions.
Here are the GAMSAT section break downs by time:
Section 1-You’ll have 100 minutes to answer 75 questions on Reasoning and Humanities
Section 2– You’ll have 60 minutes to answer 2 essay type questions testing Written Communication
Section 3- This is the longest single sitting at 170 minutes. During that time you’ll be assessed on 110 questions on your Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences
That’s a long time to sit in one place and requires a lot of physical stamina and mental discipline. Of course the final result of being allowed into medical school is well worth the effort.
Using your time wisely
The clock doesn’t just start ticking when you enter the exam hall, you’ve got to think of the bigger picture too if you’re going to be a true master of the exam and its timings. A good sleep routine at least a week prior to the GAMSAT will mean that you come into the venue refreshed and rested and will be at your peak for the over 5 hours that you will need to concentrate.
Good time management means that you need to plan your route and arrival at the exam hall appropriately. You don’t want to arrive with 5 minutes to spare or even late. Find out where the venue is and plan your route there and the way that you’re going to get there. It might be even in your best interest to do a “practice run”, actually do the entire journey from your front door to the venue at a similar time the week prior to the test. This will give you a very good indication of exactly how long the trip will take and should figure into your planning. We recommend getting to the exam venue about half an hour early, this will give you enough time to calm your nerves and have a visit to the toilet.
While of the subject of toilet breaks in the GAMSAT it’s a little bit of a grey area. While officially by the rules during the session you’re not allowed to leave the test room or to have access to your personal belongings ( to minimise the chances of cheating of course), if a candidate is desperate for a toilet break during the first session than we’d imagine that it would be at the invigilator’s discretion.
Preparation time during the exam
The bad news is that you’ll be sitting at that exam desk for a little bit longer than the times quoted above, the good news is that this extra time is given to you by the GAMSAT Examiners to allow you to read the question papers. You’ll be given ten minutes reading time for both section 1 and section 3, but only five minutes for section 2.
A very good tip in your exam preparation is to start getting used to the dense and wordy articles that you will expect to encounter in section 1. By having a daily routine that includes reading at least one quality newspaper and editorial you’ll start to not only get used to more verbose writing but also improve your reading speed. Do an experiment by yourself to find your reading speed. At the beginning of the week read three randomly chosen articles from either a quality broadsheer newspaper or a magazine with a strong editorial. Now throughout that week start your daily practice regime. After a week read those exact same articles again and see if your reading speed has improved.
It’s that kind of practice and rehearsal for exam situations that could shave minutes off your reading time which can in turn help you to answer more questions in the alloted time. It’s not just a case of being a speedier reader though, it’s also a case of minimising the stress that the exam puts you under. There are deliberately over 100 questions combined in each of the MCQ sections to force you to work under stress and pressure.
They don’t expect you to be able to answer all of the questions but want to see how well you can do with these artificial constraints applied. However you can beat the system and circumvent this artificial GAMSAT stress by becoming faster at all aspects of the test, that why you might still not answer all the questions, but you’ll answer a lot more in a less stressed situation and be able to produce better work.
Putting your time management skills into action
You’ve now got the information and a few of our tips on both the timings needed for sit the exam and effectively managing all the other time aspects to give you the best chance of passing.
In a follow up article we’ll look at time management of the GAMSAT questions and using the allotted time to your advantage.