This blog is still in its infancy, but I hope it's proving useful or at least mildly entertaining for those of you staunch or foolish enough to read it :) Before I get started, this isn't a plug for our business, though as always the link is included at the end if you'd like to dig deeper. Rather this is a genuine attempt to reach out to those of you planning to sit GAMSAT in 2012.
5 tips for GAMSAT preparation
For starters, my GAMSAT journey went something like this;
-Save $2000 and don't enrol in a course...instead, 'borrow' your flatmate's (a primary school teacher) textbooks for chemistry and biology, procure an organic chemistry text book from somewhere (I genuinely can't remember where) and track down your dusty copy of the year 12 physics and maths text books.
-Put them in a suitcase, then fill the suit case with as much unconventional material as you can.....namely I packed the Bible, Confucius' Annalects, the MENSA puzzles book, Helen Keller's autobiography, a few pieces of Robert Louis Stevenson and generally anything else I could find that seemed like a good read.
-Then take the $2000 and rent a beach shack in Kangaroo Island for a month (Dolphin Chalet in Vivonne Bay....highly recommended!)
-Then spend every morning running, every day reading and practicing and every evening fishing
It was cathartic to say the least. Here's what I learnt and what I hope to pass to you.
1-Read: read often, read hard and read widely. Read as much as you can in as many subjects as you can. No education will ever detract from your life and all of it will add depth to you as a person; afterall, medical school isnt looking for the people who memorised a few text books (they WANT to teach you science, they don't assume you already know it) they are looking for a well balanced, intelligent and diverse set of people as the next generation of doctors.
2-Less is more: If you're bored, Google the Pareto Principle. It's good. 20% of your effort will account for 80% of your success. Rememer that the assumed level of knowledge for the GAMSAT is first year uni biology, chemistry and organic chemistry and only year 12 Physics (it's not official but I think year 11 or 12 maths helps too). Don't try to master everything ever written on these subjects, you'll fail at it and make yourself less effective in the basics.
3-To course or not to course: naturally I have a vested interest here but I'll tell it like it is. Some people find courses helpful, some don't. I did it without a course and I know a lot of other people who did too. I also know a lot of people who did do a course. To the best of my knowledge there is no good evidence to suggest that it helps or hurts, though I suspect ACER is trying to generate such data. At the end of the day, learn the way you want to learn and that helps you. (PS I did to a course for the interview section and yes it did help)
4-Don't study the night before: maybe flick over your notes in a half hearted attempt, but don't take it seriously. Anything you were going to learn you will have by now. Rather invest that time and energy in a massgae, a bath, some good fiction, some manga, whatever floats your boat. Keep it stimulating but not very serious....how many atheletes do you see warming up with a 10km run immediately before their moment of glory?!
5-Que Sera Sera: you might smash it, you might flunk it! At the end of the day you can only do your best. I aced the exam on the first go, but then I got wait listed at the first interview. I was officially rejected the day after classes began in 2006. It got me down for about 2 days, then whilst having an existential funk on a bus I took solace in the notion that if I could be 'put off' by a single failure then I probably wasn't cut out for medicine. If you dont make it on your first, second or eighth try, then THAT'S OK! You have two options, a-) swallow your pride, dust yourself and start preparing for next year (ps; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result-try something new); b-) decide that maybe medicine isn't the be all and end all and commit yourself to another cause, without an entry exam and with the same gusto!
I hope this helps! As always, I'd love to hear other people's views, experiences, feedback and stories.
Good luck folks