It is a common problem for students to notice no improvement in GAMSAT section 1 practice. In this article we share a helpful preparation strategy to help identify the problem.
It is a very common issue during GAMSAT section 1 practice to attempt loads of questions without much in-depth assessment of their process. However, the key to improving is by going into as much detail as you can about each answer option and reflecting on your train of thought; you can find underlying causes and recognise patterns in performance. This isn’t easy to say the least, and its best done supervised with an experienced tutor or diverse study group of more than two people.
Start by breaking down your process in answering a specific stimulus (i.e. poetry, prose, data, cartoon, etc). Think about the different ways in which you think through each type of stimulus.
Some questions may require deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning. Others may require the use of comparative reasoning by looking into different components and how they are related to one another. Generally speaking, section 1 comes down to three key skills – comprehension, critical thinkingand making inference.
When breaking down your mental process to solve a specific stimulus try to figure out which skill is a weakness with respect to the type of stimulus.
Assessing your Process
You will need practice questions and a pen for circling and underlining. Start by picking a stimulus you want to focus on. If you are using a practice test, quickly skim through the paper and circle all the questions with the same stimulus. If you do not have access to a paper, attempting one question of the ‘concerned‘ question-type is fine but the more questions you practice the more accurate your assessment. We recommend doing at least 5 problems for this assessment (Check out our list of the best GAMSAT preparation materials recommended by past candidates).
Step 1: Put in Brackets the 1st Area you looked at. The part of the question you naturally looked at right away, this could either be the Text, part of a Graph, Question stem or Answer options. For example, lets say you are attempting a prose question, if you read the question stem first, then put that in brackets. If you read the text first then place that in brackets instead.
Step 2: Underline and number what stands out in the bracket area. While you are trying to work out the answer underline the things that stands out to you in the bracket section. This could be a word or phrase that you think may be important for answering the question. Underline it and put a number next to it. For example, lets assume in attempting a prose question you read the question first, you would underline the first word or phrase that stood out and number it as (1) , the second word would be underlined and numbered (2) and so on.
Step 3: Continue the underlining and numbering method in remaining areas. Once you are done reading the first area continue underlining and numbering words and phrases that stand out to you. For example, Lets assume after examining the first area you underlined and numbered two keywords. Move onto the next area (that comes naturally to you) and continue numbering as (3), (4) and so on, until you pick your answer.
Step 4: Review the worked solution. If you answered correctly then it is safe to assume you probably used the right approach (unless maybe if you guessed). Reflect on your approach to the question and think about why you answered it right, what you can replicate or possibly change to improve accuracy .
If you answered incorrectly, look back at the words/phrases underlined and overall process to figure out why you answered incorrectly. Find below a a few pointers to help you correctly identify the problem:
- Did I focus on the wrong piece(s) of information?
- Did I not notice a key word or phrase?
- Did I misinterpret or misunderstood the information?
- Did I draw the wrong conclusion?
Step 5: Move onto next question and repeat step 1 to 4.
Step 6: Try to spot patterns and trends. Go back to each error you made and try and understand the specific set of skills that you are weak at. You will find that your weaknesses will tend to follow a general pattern. Find below some of the most common patterns from past candidates that we have tutored, use it to help identify what areas to work on.
- Underlining irrelevant words or phrases (comprehension / critical thinking problem)
- Misinterpreting or misunderstanding information presented (comprehension problem)
- Unable to draw conclusion from one or two components (critical thinking / making inference problem)
Once you have completed assessment, use additional resources to fix the issues. Make sure to assess progress regularly and practising newly implemented techniques.
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