10 Tips for GAMSAT Exam Day
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I’m going to start this blog post by transporting you back in time to when I sat GAMSAT…
The year is 2016. I’m waiting in the queue for GAMSAT in London. The queue snaking out of the test centre is long and I’m so tired from being stressed about this exam that I almost don’t care how it goes.
In my bag I’ve packed my admissions ticket, ID, water, Pro Plus (caffeine) tablets and some pens and pencils in a clear plastic bag. As I move through the test centre doors, I turn my phone off because there’s no way I’m going to let a stray marketing text from Vodafone get me booted out of the test.
The test is taking place in a huge hall. You could probably hold one of those big exhibitions in it. I put my bag at the back of the hall and exchange glances with some of the other test takers. We’re all making pretend scared faces and squirming at each other. (Or are we pretend scared? Nope. Nope, definitely not).
I sit down to sit the test. Here goes nothing!
GAMSAT exam day is LONG and GRUELLING. I hope the tips below will help you not only have a better day but even boost your mark.
1. Double check your exam details
If you want to succeed at GAMSAT the first step is to make sure you’re at the right place at the right time! Else, you definitely won’t get any marks! ACER should have sent your exam details to your email. You can also find them in your account on the ACER website.
Note – the test location has changed in the past so if you’ve sat GAMSAT before don’t assume that where you took the test last time is where it’ll be this time!
2. Double check your journey plan to the test centre
You want to get to the test centre with plenty of time to spare, so plan to get there early. Use Google Maps or Citymapper to plan your trip to the test centre. But check again when you wake up on the morning of the exam just in case, for example, a bus route / train / metro / underground line is now experiencing delays.
As a seasoned Londoner I can tell you that journey plans and estimated times really can change when you re-check them again in the morning. Don’t get caught out! Re-check to be safe.
3. Make plans for after the test
If you have some friends or GAMSAT study buddies who are also sitting the test make plans to meet them afterwards at a nearby café, restaurant or bar. When I sat GAMSAT, post-test drinks and a big old moan about the worst questions with study buddies helped me to unwind.
Alternatively, make plans with loved ones who have nothing to do with GAMSAT. Maybe you won’t want to think about the exam any more than necessary.
Maybe you’d rather spend some time alone after the exam. That’s fine too! Perhaps watch your favourite movie when you get home to help you forget all about it.
4. Sleep Zzzzzzzz
You may be planning to stay up late the night before trying to cram facts. But this will be of very little benefit.
GAMSAT Sections 1 and 3 require a lot of reasoning. And you cannot cram reasoning. The best way to boost your reasoning ability on exam day is to give your brain a good rest. This is why it’s crucial, and I repeat, it’s CRUCIAL to get a good night’s rest.
To ensure you don’t have to wake up ridiculously early it may be worth booking accommodation near the test centre. I’ve had good experiences booking via Air BnB.
Just like I did, you will probably feel nervous. Or to be more specific, you’ll kind of want to hide under a rock and not come out again until GAMSAT is over. My advice is to BREATHE deeply to calm your nerves.
Breathe in through your mouth for a count of 3 seconds. Then, breathe out for a count of 4 seconds through your nose. Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of the air moving through your nose and throat.
An extra trick is to breathe “with your belly”. Meaning that as you breathe in you should let your tummy relax and expand like a balloon. This is called belly breathing. Typically, we will hold our tummies flat even as we breathe in deeply. Instead, let your tummy go to maximise the calming effect.
6. Don’t take…
You may be tempted to bring your notes and a textbook or two. But, realistically, are you going to have time to read them? If you do get round to reading them, are you really going to absorb anything you don’t already know or understand?
In my experience, the answer to both of these questions is no. Save your back the weight of all that paper and instead focus on being relaxed and focused.
7. Do take…
- Admission ticket
- Photo ID
- Face mask +/- hand sanitiser (COVID-19)
- Pens and pencils
- Caffeine tablets
- Phone and purse
8. Avoid negative people
Avoid contact with people who are a negative influence, unsupportive of what you’re doing or just make you feel anxious in any way. You need all the positivity you can get on exam day. Don’t let even one negative person get you down.
The other side of this coin is to be in contact with positive people and be a positive person yourself. Despite the fact that, yes, you’re in competition with everyone else sitting the exam, why not smile, chat and make friends with other exam takers on the day? You’re all in the same boat. You’re all stressed. Put each other at ease!
9. At lunch either socialise or spend time on your own
After sections 1 and 2 you will have a lunchbreak and you will be allowed to leave the centre. You have a few options:
- Find friends and study buddies and spend lunchtime with them.
- Hang out with someone or some people that you get chatting to on test day.
- Spend time on your own to recharge.
I personally chose option 3 because I didn’t want to pick up other people’s stress – I had enough stress of my own to deal with! Instead, I met up with people after the exam. But that’s just me. You may find it more relaxing to spend time with others at lunchtime.
10. In-exam tips
I will be publishing a full blog post on exam techniques for GAMSAT soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of my top tips:
If you spot that you’re running out of time, guess! Guess every question that’s remaining! GAMSAT utilises positive marking so at least put down something for every question. For sections 1 and 3 you’re using pencil to answer the questions. So, in the last remaining minutes you can always change one of your guess answers if you realise that it’s wrong.
Your brain will get fatigued. Mine turned to sludge halfway through section 3. If this happens, you’ll have to really slog it through the rest of the exam. Don’t give up! Utilise all the mental toughness that you have.
Taking on some caffeine in the lunch break can help with this too.
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Do you have some tips of your own? You could share with other GAMSAT takers by leaving a comment below.