It is common for students not to notice any improvement in GAMSAT section 1 practice. In this article we share a helpful strategy to help identify the problem.
The most common mistake students make during GAMSAT section 1 practice is that there attempt loads of questions without much in-depth assessment of their process.
The key to improving is being self-critical and understanding your intuitive approach to dealing with questions, then spotting areas of weakness to improve. At times you may adopt certain techniques or tips to overcome shortcomings.
Start by breaking down your process in answering a specific question-type. Think about the different ways in which you think through questions.
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 thinking and making inference.
When breaking down your process try to figure out which element is a threat / weakness with respect to the type of question.
Assessing your Process
You will need practice questions and a pen for circling/ underlining. Start by picking a question-type to focus on ( e.g prose, poem, graphical data, cartoons or social science etc). If you are using a past paper, quickly skim through the GAMSAT paper and circle all the questions that relate to the focus question-type. If you do not have access to a paper, attempting one question of the focus question-type is fine but the more questions you practice the more accurate your assessment. We recommend doing at least 5 questions for this assessment.
Step 1: Circle the 1st Area you looked at. The part of the question you naturally looked at right away, this could either be the Text, Graph, Question stem or Answer options. For example, lets say you are attempting a prose question, if you read the question stem first, then circle it. If you read the text first then circle that instead.
Step 2: Underline and number what stands out in the circled area. While you are trying to work out the answer underline the first thing that stands out to you in the circled 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 5. We recommend doing about 5 – 10 questions.
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)
We created a GAMSAT spreadsheet that you can be used to log questions answered incorrectly for each section. Great for spotting patterns and trends during practice. It also includes a study journal, charts, and graphs. (Download Now)
Once you have completed assessment, use third party resources to improve skill.
Make sure to do another set of questions afterwards to test new skills or techniques.
If you notice an improvement keep practising and implementing new techniques. If nothing changes, keep looking for the right technique until you figure it out.