- What is GAMSAT Section 3?
- Problem-solving in GAMSAT Section 3
- How to prepare for GAMSAT Section 3
- Do I need a tutor?
- My Personal Advice
What is GAMSAT Section 3?
GAMSAT Section 3 “Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences” tests your ability to problem-solve in science themed questions. Questions will often be based on themes or formulas from physics, chemistry and biology, but differ from traditional questions in these areas by emphasising problem-solving rather than rote-learning.
It’s a common mistake to spend too much time memorising chemistry and physics formulas preparing for GAMSAT Section 3, only to realise these formulas are provided in the question and all the hard work was in vain. It’s disheartening to spend so much time studying chemistry and physics extensively, only to realise you still don’t know how to solve the problem in front of you. This is why effective preparation for GAMSAT Section 3 is centred around developing problem-solving skills, rather than rote learning basic sciences.
Problem-solving in GAMSAT Section 3
So once we decide not to spend our valuable time getting our PhD in basic sciences to prepare for GAMSAT Section 3, how should we spend our time? The problem-solving in these questions can be split across four domains:
- Interpreting visual data – graphs, flow charts and tables
- Recognising patterns and relationships
- Mathematical reasoning
- Verbal reasoning, and text-heavy questions
The longer you spend with GAMSAT Section 3 questions, the more you’ll see the questions fitting neatly into these four domains.
Learn more about these four domains here: https://gamsatscience.com/how-to-achieve-100th-percentile-in-gamsat-section-3/
How to prepare for GAMSAT Section 3
To maximise your score you need to be extremely proficient in interpreting visual data, recognising patterns and relationships, mathematical and verbal reasoning, as well as having an elementary understanding of the basic sciences. This is no small task, so it’s vital to ensure your preparation is targeted and efficient.
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Two students who perform very similarly in section 3 overall, may achieve their score in very different ways. One may perform very well in questions utilising visual data but struggle with maths or verbal reasoning, and vice versa. To avoid wasting your time, it’s important to define your own strengths and weaknesses and focus in the areas needing the most improvement. It’s tempting to practice the topics we find easiest – it’s more comfortable and can be a nice ego boost – but in an exam where every mark counts we need to put in the hard yards!
In terms of resources, there are a scarcity of high-quality preparation material for Section 3. ACER’s own GAMSAT practice papers are the gold standard. Beyond these, Des O’Neill is the time-tested textbook for GAMSAT preparation, and assisted me in reaching my score of 84 in Section 3. We recommend these two resources for our own tutoring, they are most representative of the actual GAMSAT exam. Be careful when seeking other resources as many are packed with “filler” questions, adapted from basic science textbooks with little or no emphasis on problem-solving and reasoning. It’s very difficult to create high-quality GAMSAT section 3 content which is why we don’t currently provide any, or recommend any resources other than the two listed above.
Acer’s GAMSAT Practice tests are available for purchase here: https://gamsat.acer.org/prepare/preparation-materials
We are developing our own high-quality section 3 content for our own shop, here: https://gamsatscience.com/shop/
Do I need a tutor?
Probably not. Self-teaching is not uncommon, and history is full of great autodidacts: Sir Donald Bradman famously taught himself to play cricket using a cricket stump and a golf ball against his outdoor water tank, and went on to become the greatest batsman of all time (sorry Sachin Tendulkar). With time, effort, and by working in the right areas, you can achieve tremendous success in GAMSAT Section 3 without tutoring (as have some of our very own tutors).
That being said, private tutoring does have its benefits. A good tutor can significantly speed up the process of identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and guide you through the process that brought them success. Problem-solving and reasoning skills can be taught just like anything else, and a tutor with a track-record of success is likely to be of benefit. Be wary of preparation courses that aren’t personalised to the individual – everyone is different, and whether you’re studying alone or with a tutor your study should be focused to your own personal needs.
My Personal Advice
I’ll leave you with this: Preparing for GAMSAT Section 3 is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure to pace yourself, and try and enjoy the satisfaction of solving some genuinely difficult questions. Studying with a friend can be useful, and setting clear goals for yourself will help keep you accountable. Most importantly, take pride in your improvement as you progress. Section 3 is difficult, and all your progress will be well earned. Good luck!