How to prepare for GAMSAT Section 1

gamsat section 1

The GAMSAT Section 1 is the ‘Reasoning in Humanities & Social Sciences’ section,  it consists of 75 multiple choice questions  based on vignettes drawn from a variety of materials. 

GAMSAT section 1 tests a candidates ability to understand and analyse written and graphically presented material. We reached out to top scoring candidates that performed well in the exam to get their advice on preparing for the section, these are 10 of the most common strategies:

1. Start with ACER Questions

These are official GAMSAT practice questions provided by ACER, they are designed to give you an idea as to what to expect in each section. Use them to learn the question-types in section 1 and work on improving each skill. Without realising, many students struggle to critically review their practice test results, if you’re dedicated enough you can literally spend 10-20 minutes per question, breaking down your thought process and recognising evidence that support, oppose or confuse you. 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.

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2. Keep a Question Log Journal

It is worth at the very least keeping a question log for all the questions you answer incorrectly. This does two things – first you are adopting an evidence-based approach to spotting patterns and secondly, it expands your reflective capacity to pinpoint weak areas and design a more effective plan to improve. Make sure to include a column on why you selected the incorrect answer (i.e. your reasoning) and another column (i.e. lesson) for how you plan to reduce the likelihood of answering incorrectly in the future. We have created a premium GAMSAT question log spreadsheet template which you can download. Alternatively, you can get our uniquely designed GAMSAT question log paperback notebook.

3. Breakdown Your Approach & Mental Process

Always assess the type of thinking and the process you undergo for each question in section 1. This can be difficult to do with self-study, best to work with a diverse study group with more than two people or with an experience tutor. Not to toot our horn, but toot – we created the GAMSAT Virtual Tutor self-preparation guide to help with this problem. The guide walks you through step-by-step how to find underlying issues and recommends effective techniques and strategies to fix them.

4. Focus on Accuracy first then Speed

Complete practice questions untimed to familiarise yourself with the format of the test and gradually improve your accuracy rate. Once you reach a  level you are happy with, only then focus on picking up the pace.  Aim for a minimum accuracy rate of about 80% (60 out of 75).

5. Have a time management strategy

Practising under timed conditions is important so you can become comfortable working under the same conditions of the exam. It is also a great way to spot timing issues that may come up on test day. Time management can be analysed at two levels: Question-type and Section levels. At the question-type level you are taking mental shortcuts when possible to solve the problem, whilst at the section level you are adopting triage to ensure you finish the section on time. A common time management strategy at the Question-type level could be analysing and comparing answer options and applying common sense to eliminate 1-2 options before checking the text.  A common Section level strategy could be spotting the difficult problems during the 10 minutes reading time and doing those first. Find what works for you 🙂

6. Learn to Absorb and Draw out Key Information Faster

This comes with practice and forcing oneself to read challenging material regularly. It also helps to hone your skimming strategy (please note skimming is different from reading). Furthermore, increasing your base reading speed is a huge bonus – increasing the number of words per minute (wpm) you process can help with long and dense questions. Learning some basic speed reading methods can go a long way and drastically improve how well you absorb and draw out information. One tip to avoid when reading is saying each word in your head, also known as as “sub-vocalization.” Instead, its better you “skim” lines or groups of words, as you can process words more quickly than when you can say them.

7. Expose yourself to Philosophy, Political Theory and Different Social issues

Section 1 is heavily based on qualitative data gathered from social science research (e.g., social values and preferences, marriage systems) or theories (e.g., socialism, evolution). Exposing yourself to social science issues and research will definitely help.

8. Start or Join a GAMSAT study group

Forming study groups is a very effective strategy for enhancing learning. This is because groups share unique insights and learn from each other. Members can also teach confusing concepts they understand to other group members. 

9. Practice some helpful MCQ test strategies

Avoid losing some marks in the exam due to poor examination techniques, I recommend learning some basic time saving strategies for each section. For example, a popular Multiple Choice (MCQ) strategy that works quite well in the GAMSAT is: After reading a question, answer it in your mind before reviewing the answer options. This will help prevent you from talking yourself out of the correct answer.

10. Practice questions at the end of each study session

Get into the habit of testing yourself at the end of every study session. For example, lets say you spend the day working on interpreting poems and learning about different literary devices, do some practice questions afterwards to test your newly acquired skills. This encourages active recall that is scientifcally proven to help you learn better and faster.

For more GAMSAT preparation tips check out the rest of the blogFurthermore, take preparation to the next level with one of our premium GAMSAT resources >> Visit Store.

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