GAMSAT Section 3
Worried about Gamsat section 3?
Let me try and help you out with this post.
First off I'm not going to just reproduce the stuff you can easily find on the ACER Gamsat website like a lot of articles on this subject do.
Let's just assume you already know the number of questions and the proportions of biology, chemistry and physics etc etc. and if you don't then head on over to the ACER website and download the free guide to the test which they give you there.
What I'm going to cover in this post is the following:
1. Some section 3 specific strategies to help you start your preparation.
2. Tell you the best resources to use to study the science.
3. Give you a suggested syllabus so you know what to study.
Before we get into that however let me just say one thing, if you're stressing about section 3, then don't.
It is possible to do well in Gamsat even though you know very little science as long as you can compensate in papers 1 and 2.
Allow me to demonstrate with an example:
You don’t know a lot of science, so... you decide to work slowly through all the biology questions first taking much longer than 1 minute 30 seconds per question if necessary. (Generally the biology questions in Gamsat are the easiest to answer just using the information given in the question.)
Because you take your time reading and are thinking carefully let's say you get 80% of the biology questions correct.
Since 40% of 110 questions are on biology that equals 44 questions. You achieve 80% correct answers giving you 35 marks.
Let’s suppose you had at least studied a couple of chemistry topics. You try 10 questions and get 6 right.
Finally you just guess the other 56 questions.
You have a 25% chance just by guessing which would give you another 14 marks, giving you a total of 55 marks which is 50% on section 3.
Now supposing you did well on papers 1 and 2 and got 70% in both, you would get a total overall GAMSAT Score of 60.
Or using the alternative formula used by some universities which only gives a one third weighting to the science paper:
(1 x section I + 1 x section II + 1 x section III) / 3
you would get a total overall GAMSAT Score of 63.
Consider that in 2019 St. George’s in the UK only required a score of 59 to be called for interview and St. Andrews required 50.
Let's be clear, I'm not recommending you attempt this, there's no guarantee you can get 70% in papers 1 and 2 or even just 50% in paper 3.
However this scenario illustrates that your situation is not as bad as you think if you don't know much science.
Your performance in the ACER practice tests and the ACER essay marking service will give you a good idea how well you can do in the first two sections.
By the way, in case you're wondering which universities use the alternative marking formula which only gives section 3 a one third weighting they are:
In the UK:
Section 3 Strategies
OK let's move on to the first thing on my list, some strategies to approach learning the science.
Some people ask me if they even really need to study anything at all since all the information necessary to answer the question is given to you anyway.
Now that's all well and good, but it's still a very good idea to study the sciences to the level that ACER recommends (first year degree level for chemistry and biology and A level standard for physics) for the following reasons -
1. If you already know a subject inside out then when you're presented with one or two pages of text and diagrams on it in the test you'll read and understand it much faster than if you're starting from scratch.
Maybe you won't even have to read all of it.
And speed is critically important if you want to have any chance in Gamsat
2. Just because most questions don't require prior knowledge doesn't mean that they will all be like that. And ACER are free to put whatever style of questions they like in whatever proportions they like.
And you can't complain about it because they already told you to study to first year degree level in the official instructions.
So just because someone told you that in the last sitting prior knowledge didn't help at all, don't assume the next sitting will be the same. Stick to the official advice and you won't be caught out.
Do I Need To Memorize Much?
Having said that, studying the science doesn't necessarily mean you have to memorize large chunks of information.
I recommend making all your study strictly question based.
Memorize only the bare amount necessary to answer your practice questions.
If you don't have a science background, then in the beginning your practice questions should be the easier and basic ones in whatever textbook you're using.
Later when you've mastered the basics you can move on to the official ACER questions.
That brings me neatly onto my second point about the best resources to use to learn the science.
Suggested Resources For Section 3
A lot of Gamsat prep companies sell their own textbooks for the science. I've had a look at a lot of them and on the whole they aren't great. Most are deadly dull.
If you've got my Griffiths Gamsat Review guide you'll know that while it's packed with test strategies, techniques and practice questions for Section 3, it isn't a science text book.
Here's why -
Look, there is no "special gamsat science"
Science is science.
If you want a good science textbook my advice is to get a good A level or high school textbook for biology, chemistry and physics.
First of all it will probably be cheaper than those "special gamsat science books".
Secondly they're produced to a much higher standard than the prep company versions.
They're written by expert authors and published by huge publishing companies for big exam boards and sold in the hundreds of thousands. So they can afford the best.
Not knocked out in boring black and white in a print run of a few hundred by the latest Gamsat prep company.
Finally, given that they're aimed at teenagers they definitely explain things in an easier to understand and more entertaining way than most of the dull Gamsat books on the market.
So do yourself a favour, don't get ripped off and get yourself some good quality A level books. Have a browse on Amazon.
That will also help you with the syllabus as all you have to do is follow the book.
What else will you need?
The official ACER practice tests for sure.
Get them all.
Research has conclusively shown that the more you practice a particular type of test, the better you perform in those tests. Even when the test is supposed to be of a type that you can't "prepare" for such as a pure reasoning test.
So you'll want to practice as many Gamsat style questions as possible.
Given that ACER only produce three full length practice tests you'll probably also want to get some more of the commercially produced ones. There are practice questions in Griffiths Gamsat Review of course.
Another good source are the Des O Neill books. These are no longer sold by the original company but you can still get them second hand from places like Ebay or student forums reasonably cheaply.
You can also get them in pdf format for free from pdf download sites.
The above will give you a very good base. No need to over complicate things.
However here are some other free online resources which you might find useful:
Everyone always talks about Khan academy which is a free online learning centre covering mainly maths and science so I'll include it first.
In addition to the biology, chemistry and physics lessons available, if you look on the menu you'll see it also has science lessons specifically for the American MCAT test which is an entry test for medical school in the USA which tests science to a similar level as the GAMSAT. It also has practice questions although the MCAT is much more based on memorized information than GAMSAT so these are not so useful for your GAMSAT prep as the lessons themselves.
Another great set of free online lessons are produced by the BBC covering biology chemistry and physics. They consist of videos, images and text.
Unfortunately they're not at a high enough level to be used as the sole resource for GAMSAT but if you're a beginner to science it's a good introduction.
Professor Dave Explains
A set of fun Youtube science tutorials which are some of the best I've seen for biology, chemistry and physics. Click on the playlists tab to see the separate set of videos for each subject.
The last resource is a set of free online maths lessons. Calculators aren't allowed in GAMSAT and skills such as re-arranging equations etc. are vital. If it's been a while since you studied any maths this page will help you out.
In particular look at the lessons relating to geometry and algebra.
Syllabus For Section 3
For my in depth syllabus for the science please CLICK HERE.
For more help with GAMSAT check out Griffiths Gamsat Review Home Study System which takes you step by step through all three sections with advanced strategies for each.