Attempting practice questions is a vital component of GAMSAT practice, we recommend attempting GAMSAT practice papers at almost every stage of the preparation for the exam.
GAMSAT practice papers are particularly useful in evaluating progress and identifying strengths and weaknesses in the exam, if assessed properly. I recommend adopting the SWOT framework when reviewing performance.
I recommend completing a diagnostic test at initial stages of preparation to determine the best course of action to take. You need to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) as soon as possible.
SWOT analysis is a framework for identifying and analysing the internal and external factors that can have an impact on your GAMSAT performance. The framework is credited to Albert Humphrey, who tested the approach in the 60s and early 70s. It is now adopted by organisations of all types as an aid to making business decisions. However, it is a great tool for tuning preparation and we will apply the framework to assess GAMSAT practice.
When and Why you should do a SWOT analysis
It should be used at the start of your GAMSAT preparation to evaluate diagnostic test results, and full mock completed under testing conditions. The framework provides powerful support for decision-making because it enables you to uncover opportunities for exam success that weren’t initially recognised. For example, SWOT can help pinpoint gaps in knowledge in section 2 and help you plot accordingly while alerting you of the difficulty in timing that can pose a threat to achieving your ideal score.
Elements of a SWOT analysis
As its name states, SWOT examines four elements:
- Strengths (S): The skills or concepts which you find easiest and you are confident in answering most questions correctly. These are the areas in which you get most of the questions (more than 80%) correct. You are well prepared for these, just need to brush them-up and stay in touch with the topic.
- Weaknesses (W): These are concepts or skills you are not very confident about. You don’t think you can answer most question correctly. These are the areas that you struggle with. You are neither bad nor great in these areas, and generally score anywhere between 30% to 60% in the areas. You feel you can solve these questions but just do not have the knowledge to do so.
- Opportunities (O): These are the questions in which with more practice they could turn to strengths. These are those areas where you use guesswork at times and get away with it. You do not have a theoretical base for these topics yet somehow feel that you could do better with these if you had that knowledge.
- Threats (T): These are the questions in which you always score fewer marks despite understanding concepts and applying learned techniques to improve. This is the danger zone. You just cannot seem to get these topics and always score a zero.
The technique is an effective process for interpreting your strengths and weaknesses, and for describing the opportunities available to you and the threats that could potentially hinder success in the exam.
How to do a GAMSAT SWOT analysis for Section 1 & 3
A SWOT matrix is often used to organize items identified under each of these four elements. A SWOT matrix is usually a square divided into four quadrants, with each quadrant representing one of the specific elements. You identify and list specific strengths in the first quadrant, weaknesses in the next, then opportunities and, lastly, threats as seen below.
Step 1 – Attempt a full section 1 or section 3 section of the GAMSAT under exam conditions.
Step 2 – Mark test and review worked solutions
Step 3 – Fill-in Strengths: These are the question-types or concepts that you answer correctly most of the time.
Step 4 – Fill-in Weaknesses: These are questions you answer incorrectly most of the time, despite understanding or adopting new techniques to improve.
Step 5 – Fill-in Opportunities: These are questions you are not that confident but can turn into strength with a bit of practice. For example, questions you answered correctly by making a logical guess or complex questions that are easy but take longer to work out.
Step 6 – Fill-in Threats: There are the questions which you were not able to answer at all or have no idea on concept. Please note that if some questions you made a logical guess or used the process of elimination to answer correctly they may fall into opportunities depending on your degree of comfortability on the subject.
At the early stage of your preparation, your W and O areas should be heavily populated. Your target is simple: to populate your strength areas.
SWOT Analysis for Section 2
The GAMSAT Section 2 is an essay writing exercise so it is more difficult to complete a SWOT analysis to action on. However, we encourage you to ask a friend or family to mark your essay.
The SWOT analysis should take into consideration the following factors:
Criteria #1: Thought and Content
- Does the essay address every part of the question or both sides of an argument?
- Is there a good breadth, depth and strength of argument?
Criteria #2: Organisation and Expression
- Does the essay have a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
- Are ideas in a logical and easy-to-follow way?
- Does grammar affect readability and fluency?
Use the above points as a starting point to fill-in the SWOT matrix, the goal is to identify your strengths and weaknesses in essay writing based on the exam marking criterias.
Using SWOT analysis Reports During GAMSAT Preparation
I recommend using the results from the SWOT analysis at the beginning of your preparation to effectively identify what to focus on.
1. Evaluating diagnostic test results
The SWOT analysis should be done upon completing a diagnostic test at the beginning of your preparation. The GAMSAT is 5.5 hours long so I don’t recommend doing an entire exam at once, instead split it into three mini-diagnostic tests, one per section and carry out analysis for each one.
I recommend you complete about 2-3 diagnostic tests per section before studying to accurately identify strengths and weaknesses.
2. Evaluating timed mini-mock results
Also complete a SWOT analysis periodically after a timed mini-mock. The results should be compared with the previous SWOT reports. Try to spot changes in the SWOT matrix and plan the remainder of your preparation accordingly.
Over time you should notice a shift in the SWOT matrix where the Strength/Opportunities quadrants have the most number of items and the Weakness/Threats quadrants with the least number of items.
3. Constructing GAMSAT game plan
Periodically review SWOT reports and use them in constructing a game plan for the exam. The game plan is an outline of th tips and strategies you intend to use in the exam to achieve your target score. What techniques or strategies have helped to shift items from the weakness quadrant to strength quadrant? Capitalise on the ones that work, tweak what needs improvement and discard the techniques that aren’t working.
Well, now that you have your analysis report, you have a roadmap for yourself and all you need to do is start acting on it:
- Club all your ‘weak areas’ into one and start working on them immediately. This is the first area that your target. This would have an immediate impact on your Mock performance, and would lend you confidence for your overall prep.
- Once you are done with the areas above, start working on your ‘OPPURTUNTIIES’. These are the areas that would give you a boost and convert your prep levels from above average to awesome.
- And the last bit is common sense: minimize your threats (in case they are too many) and then forget about them. These are the parts of the exams you don’t care about. Remember, you cannot put RCs in this category; if you do, you might suffer.