In the GAMSAT test you get a significant amount of reading time before each section begins. Ten minutes reading time will be given for Sections I and III and five minutes for Section II. As per the Acer guideline. You need to optimise this reading time to cover as much as possible of the paper, pick out the questions you are going to answer, and have a basic understanding of the paper. A good reading speed is 250-300 words per minute but this may vary depending upon the reading material itself and your previous experience of reading. So how do make the most of your reading time in GAMSAT?
Before you even get to test day you’ve got to be very frank with yourself and ask yourself, “How fast is my reading really?” You certainly won’t see a top athlete arriving at his rugby match with no preparation. While it’s theoretically true that the writing you come across shouldn’t need to be studied beforehand it’s also true that if you struggle with reading in general or certain types of texts like poetry, then you should become more familiar with them in your prep. If you’re only reading at 200 words a minute start to try reading the text type you struggle with on a regular basis.
After your pre-test day reading preparation the first thing to do in the reading time is check if the GAMSAT booklet you have received has all the pages in sequence and that all writing and diagrams are printed legibly. While you do so, do a quick overview of the sections and check if there are portions that you are not familiar with. This may include marking out areas that you are very strong in or which contain long-winded and complicated passages. A basic overview of these will help you decide if you want to waste time on these questions at the very outset of the test or come back to them later when you are done with the parts you can answer with relative confidence. Don’t be afraid of making your own mental notes and deciding where exactly you should start.
During the reading time you cannot make any notes and record answers. Any attempt to do so might result in your answer sheet being taken away or further penalties being imposed. You are advised not to make even the tiniest of indents in the book while marking out the right answers. Since you are not allowed to do any of these, you will find a lot of time on your hands to actually read the question paper and pick out your first choice of answers. It is easy to remember these answers later and they help save time for the more difficult parts of the paper. You will find that some portions of the paper require more than one reading for correct comprehension. A basic skimming of these portions during the allotted reading time will give you better chances of understanding and answering when you read these again later into the test.
Another way to optimally use your reading time for the GAMSAT is to take in several words in a sentence together rather than focusing on individual words. This may not help you to properly understand what you are reading at first but at least you will have an idea of what you are about to contend with during the writing time. You may practice this well before the GAMSAT by speed reading at home or using the internet to find tips and techniques to improve reading speed. Again we’ve got to emphasis not to just practice on one type of texts but many, particularly those you find difficult. It is also useful to focus on the key words of the text and ignore conjunctions, prepositions, articles and the like.
In GAMSAT Section II or the Written Communication section, look over the quotation sets given and then let your natural instincts take over. Most often you will find a supportive argument or even an unfavourable response to the quotations and be able to deduce this within the reading time itself. Remember that every quote does not need a response so if you find one that is too difficult to comprehend, simply ignore it. You may even be able to structure your essay mentally so that you are able to write continuously without losing your flow in the 25 minutes allotted to you.