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 advise on preparing for the section:

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 and help with monitoring improvements over time as you practice with them. Use them to learn the question-types in section 1 and work on improving each skill.

2. Keep a Questions Journal

It is worth keeping a questions log for all the questions you answer incorrectly to spot trends and help create an attack plan. This does two things. first you are adopting an evidence-based approach to studying and secondly, it encourages the use of reflective learning to improve. Make sure to include a column where you comment on why you selected the incorrect answer and another column for how you plan to reduce the likelihood of answering incorrectly in the future.

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3. Breakdown Your Approach & Mental Process

Always assess the type of thinking and the process you undergo for each question-type in section 1. This might help highlight shortcomings in technique that you can later work on.

4. Focus on Accuracy first then Speed

Complete practice questions untimed to familiarise yourself with the format of the test and gradually improve your error rate, eventually building up to working in timed conditions.

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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. This will allow you to adjust to the speed in which you must answers questions. Rather than attempting an entire section 1 paper (i.e 75 questions in 100 minutes), save some time by setting mini-tests. For example, assume you were working on interpreting graphs for the day, go through a past paper and circle all the graphical questions. Lets assume in a paper there were 12 graphical questions. The time per question for GAMSAT section 1 is 1 min 20 secs, therefore you will aim to complete the entire 12 questions in 16 mins.

6. Learn how to Read Fast

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 your score. The key thing to avoid when reading text is pronouncing and “hearing” each word in your head as you read it, a process known as as “sub-vocalization.” Instead, you “skim” lines or groups of words, as you can understand words more quickly than you can say them.

7. Expose yourself to Philosophy 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. Some of the most popular Multiple Choice (MCQ) strategies that work in the GAMSAT include:

    • Using the process of elimination, cross out all the answers you know are incorrect, then focus on the remaining answers. Not only does this strategy save time, it greatly increases your likelihood of selecting the correct answer.
    • 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.
  • Read every answer option prior to choosing a final answer. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it is a common mistake students make.

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.

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