I achieved 74/75/81 in the GAMSAT and this article I’ll be sharing the “best” preparation materials to prepare for the GAMSAT, I’ve rated each type of material according to their “usefulness”, offer tips on picking the right ones and share mistakes to avoid when using them.
If you are new to the blog, my name is Raman, and I’m a 4-year GAMSAT tutor and one of the latest members of THE MEDIC BLOG team. We have just wrapped up our free 30-day GAMSAT preparation challenge, and I wanted to share my tips on picking the right GAMSAT preparation materials.
From my tutoring experience, the most significant factor in determining the right material to use for GAMSAT prep is you, so any advice you get from the blog, or any other past candidate will vary in effectiveness with your circumstance.
The “Bad” news – The GAMSAT draws on a wide-ranging number of skills – critical reading, plausible reasoning, scientific reasoning, problem-solving, critical thinking, writing etc. As a result, no resource is perfect, and even the official ACER papers have their shortcomings, one being that they are not a complete representation of what will be tested in the exam.
The “Good” news – Most of the preparation materials needed to prepare for the exam are freely available, or can be acquired for free from your local or university library. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save by being smart with sourcing. Furthermore, I’ve only included proven resources used by myself, successful students and popular recommendations from the top scorers that contributed to the GAMSAT challenge.
I’m hoping this article will help save you some money and alleviate some of the anxiety you might feel when sourcing for materials. This guide is pretty detailed, so here are reference links you can use to jump directly to different parts of the article. That said, I recommend reading the whole guide if you can!
Most recommended by Past Candidates
Recommended Materials for Section 1
Recommended Materials for Section 2
Recommended Materials for Section 3
GAMSAT prep companies: Popular Picks
How to pick a GAMSAT tutor
Avoid buying these Materials
Mistake to avoid when using materials
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s move on to the article.
GAMSAT preparation materials can be broadly classified into two: Content and Practice questions.
Content are resources that provide knowledge. They include books, textbooks, auditory and video tutorials on concepts that can be used in the GAMSAT. For example, assumed science knowledge for section 3, political theory for section 2 or literary devices for section 1.
You guessed it – are materials that provide questions that ideally would replicate the style of questions in the exam. The #1 choice is the official ACER questions. Unfortunately, they aren’t enough. The next best thing is materials that provide GAMSAT-style questions that draw on similar reasoning and skills.
There is always a risk of wasting time and money on outdated and irrelevant materials when venturing outside of official ACER materials, so be very careful. Always seek recommendations and unbiased reviews to mitigate risk.
Factors to consider when picking GAMSAT preparation materials
1. Type of learner: When determining the right materials consider your preferred method of learning, here are the four main types:
- Visual learner: Prefer to see information and to visualise the relationships between ideas.
- Reading or Writing learner: Learns best when reading or writing; interacting with the text is more powerful than hearing or seeing images.
- Auditory learner: Prefer to hear information rather than reading it or seeing it displayed visually.
- Kinesthetic learner: Hands-on, experiential learners; they learn best by doing.
I recommend mostly picking resources that align with your preferred method of learning. However, I strongly recommend exposing yourself to a lot of reading materials to help exercise your reading and interpretation skills for the GAMSAT. This will pay dividends on test day.
2. Needs & where you’re at: Consider your needs and where you’re at, what are you looking for? There’s no material out there that’s so bad that they haven’t helped at least one student, but you want to make sure whatever you decide to go with helps with your requirements.
3. Strengths & weaknesses: Consider your strengths and weaknesses when picking preparation materials, try to move away from ‘content’ and focus on the ‘skills’ being tested. Pay attention to your reasoning and thinking process when answering questions, then acquire materials that expose you to similar thinking or teach how to fix specific fallacies in reasoning.
4. Budget: Applying for the GAMSAT is expensive, so I strongly recommend setting a budget before acquiring materials. This will encourage you to source materials intelligently, and depending on the size of your budget, you may find it economical to get a library card. Consider second-hand items from past students or looking on sites like eBay or gumtree to save money. Furthermore, there are a lot of free resources available online so avoid spending money if you can.
5. Testimonials & Reviews: Always check reviews and testimonials before purchasing any material. Get into the habit of seeking recommendations from other students that you know. Avoid reading testimonials on the seller’s site. Ask questions in forums and Facebook groups – but be wary of students affiliated with the company.
Fundamental materials are non-negotiable, must-have resources to prepare for the GAMSAT, and they include the official ACER materials.
Price: £10 – £28, €11 – €32, $15 – $45 (ACER GAMSAT)
It is crucial to emphasise that the ACER papers are not representative of what will be tested in the exam, but rather how the examiners like to ask questions. This insight should dictate how you prepare for the exam, rather than memorising a bunch of facts; it is more effective to learn the principles questions are based on then exposing yourself to more problems that draw on the same style of reasoning.
When it comes to essay writing, ACER provides online written communication practice tests that allow candidates to submit up to two pieces of writing. The essays are then automatically scored, and a percentile band and score range is provided.
Please note: The papers are regularly updated to reflect the current state of the GAMSAT. Do not buy resold versions as they might be outdated. Furthermore, It is illegal to resell the official ACER GAMSAT papers.
Most Recommended by Past Candidates
1. Khan Academy
Price: Free (Watch now)
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and the GAMSAT cross over on some topics making the Khan Academy one of the most valuable materials to prepare for the GAMSAT. You can find videos on core Chemistry, Physics and Biology concepts to help prepare for Section 3 in the exam. Whether you need a quick brush up on a specific idea or have a non-science background, their easy-to-understand videos are helpful. Although it might be a little extra than what’s required for GAMSAT, it’s great for learning the basic physics chemistry and biology concepts.
2. Des O’Neill GAMSAT MCQ’s prep book
Des was pretty much used by everyone that contributed to the GAMSAT challenge, myself included. The problem with Des is that the company has stopped producing GAMSAT books (since around 2014), and as a result, they are no longer being updated and getting more out of touch with the current state of the GAMSAT. However, the question banks may be worth while if you can get your hands on them, but I do not recommend paying too much for them. You will notice that the Des S3 multiple-choice questions rely more upon assumed knowledge and are less reasoning-based, which does not reflect the current state of the GAMSAT (more interpretation, contextualisation and critical reasoning).
3. Science Textbooks
Price: Free to borrow from University Library
Textbooks are a great way to develop a high-quality understanding of the principles that exam questions are based upon. A typical problem in the GAMSAT requires analysing stimulus presented in picture and text format. Textbooks provide a great way to practice this skill, diving into complex text and interpreting diagrams is why I strongly recommend using them. It is important to note that there is no “best” textbook, pick one that is suitable and teaches what you need.
4. Online resources
There are a ton of freely available resources out there that can be used to prepare for the GAMSAT. I will cover many of them later in this article, some examples include Khan Academy, YouTube, Coursera, BBC bitesize, Facebook and Reddit. You can find anything from comprehensive to less extensive materials online. Additionally, some past students provide free prep advice on blogs and forums, worth checking out when figuring out the best way to go about revision.
Recommended materials for Section 1
1. Khan Academy SAT Reading
The Reading tutorials in the Khan Academy SAT Reading & Writing is great for section 1. It includes worked through examples and techniques for drawing implicit and explicit meanings from materials in science, social science and literature.
2. Shmoop Study Guides
The Free study guides on Shmoop are great for additional self-directed learning when it comes to analysing and interpreting poetry, literature, historical text and more.
3. Read Theory
The ReadTheory program gets a 6 out of 10 because the comprehension problems mostly require drawing explicit meanings from text. This is a great starting point if English is a Second Language. For English speaking students, you ideally want to do more practice drawing implicit meanings from text.
4. BBC Bitesize English Literature
The BBC Bitesize English Literature online tutorial is a great starting point for students that are looking to cover the basics in analysing prose and poems. The course covers prose and poems including Shakespeare and other 19th-century classics.
5. The New Yorker – Random Cartoon Generator
The random cartoon generator by the New Yorker can be used to practice cartoon interpretation. However, it gets a 5.5 rating because there is no feedback or way of knowing if you got the right interpretation. I recommend using this resource in a study group or with an experienced GAMSAT tutor.
Section 1 Summary
To be honest, any resource that encourages you to engage in critical thinking or analytical reading will pay off for section 1.
Tips for Building Reasoning in Section 1:
- Focus on analytical reading, and justifying your interpretations with direct references from the material.
- Force yourself to read and review challenging and dull material (e.g. 19th century prose, historical text etc)
- Source comprehension problems that draw on making inference – consider using textbooks with practice questions for exams like the LSAT Reading Comprehension section and MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning section.
Recommended materials for Section 2
1. Khan Academy SAT Writing
The writing tutorials in the Khan Academy SAT Reading & Writing is great for section 2. It includes video tutorials on different writing styles, setting up and supporting ideas, etc. Worth checking out!
2. Books and Novels
Reading books and novels are a great way to broaden one’s background knowledge for section 2. They also provide a great tool for learning and adopting your writing style.
I strongly recommend saving money by checking your local library for the above books. It is worth looking on sites such as eBay or Gumtree to see if you can get them cheaper second hand. Alternatively, you can buy them brand new at your favourite retailer. You can support us by using our links on our support us page to purchase new books. This comes at no additional cost to you and supports us as well.
See our recommended GAMSAT books for Section 2
Listening to podcasts are a great way to broaden one’s background knowledge during one’s spare time. They provide an arsenal of examples for supporting essay ideas.
All podcasts are free and available on platforms such as Spotify and iTunes. It is important to emphasise that these podcasts should be used to build knowledge and apply relevant theories to discuss issues.
Examiners are looking for ideas and analysis, not factual regurgitation. Avoid wasting 2 -3 sentences describing events, don’t get caught up in the details, just refer to them when necessary and focus on injecting your opinion and insight.
See our recommended GAMSAT Podcasts for Section 2
Copy and paste practice essays into the Grammarly tool to spot poor writing and grammar habits. The free version is good enough to use work on clarity, correctness and grammar, in other words, your organisation and expression, which is a key marking criteria.
Watching YouTube videos is another great way to broaden one’s background knowledge during spare time. They provide great supplementary material for learning anything.
Recommended YouTube channels for Section 2 coming soon
Section 2 Summary:
Any material that will elevate your discussion in section 2 will pay off.
Tips for building reasoning in Section 2:
- Pick resources that are enjoyable to use and read during revision and in your spare time.
- Explore multiple resources on the same topic to develop a well-rounded view.
- Avoid memorising facts, dates and definitions. Focus on discussing around the topic. You want to get to a level where you can discuss an idea intelligently.
- Use the Feynman technique when possible.
Recommended materials for Section 3
1. Science Textbooks
Price: Varies, borrow from the library or buy secondhand.
A level and Uni science textbooks are a great way to develop a high-quality understanding of the principles that exam questions are based upon. A typical problem in the GAMSAT requires analysing stimulus presented in picture and text format thus making textbooks a great shout.
I strongly recommend saving money by checking your university library for books. It is worth looking on sites such as eBay or Gumtree to see if you can get anything cheaper second hand. Alternatively, you can buy them brand new at your favourite retailer. If you are a Non-science background student, then consider starting with GCSE textbooks (or check out the BBC bitesize course) then work yourself up to university textbooks.
Please note: You can support us by using our affiliate links on our support us page to purchase new books. This comes at no additional cost to you and supports us as well.
2. Science Journals
I encourage to you to regularly read research articles from peer-reviewed medical journals (e.g. BMJ, New Scientist, etc) and practice digesting the text and graphical representations quickly. This will be hugely beneficial with improving your stimulus interpretation skills for S3.
Save money by checking with your university library to see if they are subscribed to any medical journal. If the school has a medicine faculty, chances are they are subscribed to something.
3. Khan Academy MCAT test prep
Watching Khan Academy is a great way to learn and test understanding of core science concepts for section 3. Most of the students that contributed to the GAMSAT challenge used Khan Academy to some degree, so I recommend checking it out.
Watching YouTube videos is another great way to broaden one’s background knowledge during their spare time as they provide great supplementary material for learning anything.
Check out our recommended YouTube Channels for Section 3
5. BBC Bitesize
BBC Bitesize is a great starting point for Non-science students who probably haven’t done any science revision since secondary school. It covers all the core topics at GCSE level.
Tips for Building Reasoning for Section 3:
- Start by getting a solid grasp of science basics (start learning content at GCSE or A level depending on the level of understanding focus on developing a broad conceptual understanding that’s not too comprehensive.
- Find enjoyable resources that do not feel like work to learn concepts e.g. YouTube, easily digestible textbooks etc.
- Make sure that you’re not just watching videos or reading textbooks, but also doing practice questions.
- Explore multiple resources around a topic. For example, read textbooks, watch YouTube videos and even do online quizzes on a specific topic. Thus, build a well-rounded understanding.
- Scour the internet for syllabus for GCSE or A-Level science. Use this to structure revision. Take GAMSAT section 3 topics lists provided online with a grain of salt.
- When you become more confident on a topic, source questions (or quizzes) that focus on the application of knowledge rather than recalling facts. Problems at the end of textbook chapters are a good option.
- Regularly read research articles from peer-reviewed medical journals (e.g. BMJ) and practice digesting the text and graphical representations quickly.
GAMSAT Prep Companies: Top Picks by Readers
My team and I send out post-exam surveys every year to our subscribers to get feedback on the resources they used. Though, the below companies are popular choices recommended by many of our readers, we strongly urge you to do more research before spending any money.
I believe that the right material will depend on what kind of person you are. For example, for me – Gold standard is good but feels like an encyclopaedia of GAMSAT content without much emphasis on what’s important, Fraser’s courses are good because of their “class-type scenario”, Des and AceGAMSAT are good for their massive amount of questions. Again, it goes back to what kind of student you are. Find what works for you and speak with students who have actually used the resources you are considering. However, it is important to note two things:
- No commercial prep company is endorsed, part of or supported by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Though they can be helpful, their materials are created independently.
- No prep company is perfect. There is no company that is so bad that it hasn’t helped at least one student, and no company that is so good that is has helped every student that has enrolled on their program.
That being said, here at THE MEDIC BLOG, we are a strong advocate for self-studying, whether you decide to opt for resources provided by prep companies or not. Success in the GAMSAT boils down to hard work and consistency. We have seen a correlation with students doing really well that hire tutors or enrol in courses, but I believe it is mostly due to the structure and sense of accountability they provide. In my opinion, if you are motivated and disciplined enough then there is probably little benefit in taking a course.
In no particular order, here are the most recommended prep companies by subscribers that took the GAMSAT 2019 (from 236 survey participants):
Updated May 2020
1. Fraser GAMSAT
2. Gold Standard
Price: Free – $397 (visit site)
GAMSAT Tutors: Picking the Right one
Hiring a GAMSAT tutor can be helpful because you get one-on-one teaching tailored to you to give maximum improvement. The following are key factors to consider when picking a GAMSAT tutor, they are as follows:
#1. Experience & Teaching track record:
Based on my experience, I find that the best tutors tend to be candidates that have taken the GAMSAT more than once. They probably did ok the first time (65 – 70) then go on to absolutely smash it on the second or third try (75+). This is worth considering because there is nothing more ideal than learning from someone who has taken the exam multiple times and has figured it out. Also, look out for evidence of a proven track record teaching successful candidates, this is not the same as someone recommending a tutor whilst preparing for the test, it is a recommendation from someone that has taken and passed the GAMSAT.
#2. Teaching Method
The principles and methods used by a tutor to enable learning is important. These strategies should be determined partly by you. Which teaching method works best for you? For example, some might offer weekly exercises to challenge you or others might kick off with a mock then break it down over a month to teach you core techniques for the exam. So make sure to fully understand their method of teaching.
#2. Preparation Guidance
How closely will the tutor guide your preparation? The structure of each session plays an influence on this, most tutors encourage independent work acting to consolidate and enhance your skills. By suggesting reading materials, setting exercises and highlighting key areas to improve on, thus ensuring you get the most return out of your independent time investment as well as the sessions.
#3. Additional Support
What additional support will be included? This might include things such as online lectures, books and practice questions to consolidate your skills.
#4. Third Party Reviews & Testimonials
GAMSAT tuition is expensive, so be sure to check past reviews and testimonials from past students. Get recommendations or see feedback on forums and study groups.
You might have other commitments that may restrict your availability, so create a schedule beforehand and make sure it is fine with your potential tutor.
Avoid buying these materials
As a rule of thumb, we recommend gathering your GAMSAT preparation materials through referrals and vigorous research. Here are a few key things to avoid when buying materials:
- Avoid buying resources that claim to be the “best” or “number 1” at something; it is probably a scam.
- Never buy materials that have not been recommended by a reputable person or source.
- Never buy resources that do not challenge your problem-solving skills. Avoid easting money on questions that test knowledge recall. You need to test understanding and apply it to different contexts.
- Never buy resources from dodgy looking sites that share screenshots and “reviews” to try and convince you to buy their product.
Mistakes to Avoid when using Materials
1. Avoid relying heavily on one single material
Use multiple resources to learn a topic and test understanding. This ensures you have a 3-D understanding of the content and increases the likelihood of spotting any gaps in your understanding which can be fixed before the big day.
2. Avoid focussing on content only
Move away from focussing on the content to understanding the skills and thinking required for the content to understanding and thinking required for the GAMSAT. This can be hard to do without an experienced tutor, however, we teach this in our free 30-day GAMSAT Challenge.
3. Avoid feeding into your ego
The more you learn and practice, the better you’ll become. However, be careful not to feed into you ego. The moment you notice questions are becoming “easy” or a stimulus-type is becoming “easy” to digest. You need to turns things up a notch by finding more challenging material or questions to work on. Don’t become complacent and feed your ego
Let us know what resources you are using to prepare for the GAMSAT in the comments below. Also check out our free 30-Day GAMSAT challenge, it includes contributions from over 120 past candidates (myself included). Best of luck!