As many of you will be aware, GAMSAT testing for 2019 came to an end with the September sitting on the 11th. I booked the exam and felt optimistic that this would be my chance to see progress from March. I booked for Liverpool as I had sat there previously and had been advised that they use the same venue consistently for the GAMSAT testing – this saved me hunting for a hotel when the admission tickets were released and paying almost double the price. It also saved me making a gamble that might not pay off and having to travel to the venue in the morning, which again, could have posed a problem/ delays.
The Day Before:
As with March, I was in work the day before the exam. I work full-time and hadn’t wanted to take unnecessary time off that wouldn’t have been productive. Other than travelling down to Liverpool early, I wouldn’t have spent the day prepping or doing any further revision. Work kept my mind off the exam and the day went quite quickly. Now, I could tell a significant difference in my stress levels. Whilst in March I was quite tense and was obsessing about the exam, I managed to get through the day with my only concerns being related to travel.
It must have been a sign as I made the first half of my journey to find that Northern had cancelled my second train with very little notice (it wasn’t showing online and the station admitted that it had only just been relayed to them). This meant that I had over an hours delay/ wait before I could continue my journey. It wasn’t the smoothest of trips but luckily I did manage to navigate via an additional train journey and got into Liverpool just after 9pm.
I headed straight to the hotel (conveniently passing the nearest McDonalds), checked in and got everything sorted for the next day.
I got up and went for an early morning run around the streets of Liverpool before returning to the hotel for breakfast, which I had booked in advance. After plenty to eat, I checked out and made the walk down to the test centre. Registration opened at 8:15am and I arrived just after 8:20am. Registration was very quick and a smooth process. After depositing my bag and getting settled in my seat, there was still time to kill.
Once 9am approached, we were all eager to get started however there was delay due to travel (there had been a train broken down on the rails near Lime Street) and the weather wasn’t particularly good so the invigilators were allowing extra time; especially as candidates were still due to arrive.
At roughly 9:15, the announcements began.
“Hello and welcome to GAMSAT”.
The Morning Session:
Section 1 was relatively typical of what I expected following on from March. The texts covered medical labeling and autism diagnosis. Poems comparing nature and death. Themes of war posters and their meanings. Poems highlighting how underappreciated poetry is and a Greek comparison of Athens and Alexandria.
Overall, I didn’t find this section too challenging. It had been similar to previous tests and didn’t throw too much text heavy passages. Very light on the cartoons for interpretation. My only worry (which I realised later on during Section 3, did I put my signature in the ‘candidate signature’ box? Who knows? Definitely not me but I’m hoping for £262, my name and identifiable information will be enough for them to justify marking it).
Section 2 began straight after section 1 was completed. Topics weren’t great. Comments relating to taxes and tolerance.
Taxes touched on how tax policies are a reflection of a countries values. Tax evasion and tax avoidance. How if people are not relying on support from others (government/ society) then they will support themselves.
Tolerance was based around whether there should be limitations on tolerance and whether society is too tolerant.
Again, this was manageable and whilst I didn’t enjoy the topics, I was still able to write good amounts.
My favorite time of the day. Luckily, next to the venue in Liverpool, there is a little Tesco which must make it’s fortunes on the sheer number of GAMSAT-ers twice a year that frequent for much needed snacks.
At this point, my appetite was rather small. I knew that this was half of the testing day over. I also was well aware that this lead on to the dreaded Section 3 which was my downfall last year. In all honesty, I had very little hopes for this next half of the exam and again, I wondered why I had bothered to sit it in the first place.
The Afternoon Session:
After joining the queues and replicating registration again, it was time to be seated back in the exam hall. The afternoon session is Section 3 – Sciences.
As reading time commenced, I skimmed the paper and began starting to read through and work out some of the questions. At first the paper seemed overwhelming. So. Many. Questions. So. Little. Time. Where were you supposed to begin? I don’t even understand the question, let alone the answer!
I began by really concentrating on the questions – these are supposed to be answerable with actually very little science knowledge which meant that the answers were actually in the question somewhere. Look closely or you’ll miss it.
I set off at good pace and started to tick the questions off. I felt joy and relief when my questimated/ worked out answer was one of the options provided on the multiple choices.
2 hrs and 50 minutes goes incredibly quickly when you’re concentrating and giving your all to the questions. Inevitably, I began to run out of time. I was rushing towards the end to ensure that I at least had an answer marked on the answer sheet for every question. I went back and made somewhat educated guesses (let’s hear it for letter C!).
Before I knew it, we had the final time warning. I did what I could in the time and with a sense of accomplishment and relief, GAMSAT 2019 was done.
What I Leaned:
Sitting GAMSAT as a trial run/ more than once is absolutely priceless for expelling the stress and uncertainty of the exam. I was incredibly calm in comparison to March and I could definitely tell the first time exam takers.
GAMSAT is a gamble. You really don’t know what you’re going to get. After the curve ball of an exam in March, it would be easy to assume the same would be applied for the September sitting. This is not the case. Acer are cruel and they make you work for it. Don’t underestimate the exam.
So what? It takes you 8 attempts to ‘pass’ GAMSAT? I remember being told that someone had sat GAMSAT 8 times. Regardless of the financial element to this, 4 years of GAMSAT testing is hard going but not impossible. The majority of people who sit GAMSAT do so multiple times before they are ‘happy’ with their score/ get into University.
You’re never ‘too old’. I hadn’t really noticed in March but certainly in this sitting, there were a few people sitting who were middle-aged/ older than your average graduate at 22/23. Let that be a lesson that you’re never too old to attempt to follow your dreams or make a drastic career change. Life experience is why Grad Med doctors are so fantastic.
I made the right decision to sit the UCAT early and to not book it for after GAMSAT. Before most people had even booked their UCAT, I had sat mine in July. Whilst I felt out of the loop and extremely premature with testing (one of the first people to take the test at my chosen test centre), it helped hugely to get it out of the way. After the stress of GAMSAT, the last thing I wanted to have was the stress of having to cram for my UCAT, whilst having to finish off my application. It hugely paid off for me and I ended up scoring well in the UCAT despite being an early tester.
You never know how you do. I left the exam and felt that it was tough but I also felt a lot more confident than I did with the March sitting. I know many other GAMSAT-ers that felt it was the most brutal, soul-destroying exam that they have ever taken (including multiple GAMSAT attempts)! Acer will email to confirm that results have been published online but if you have applied, you will also get notification from your Universities as to how you’ve done.
Overall – I felt as content as I could be with the September 2019 GAMSAT. It was by no means an easy test nor an easy option. I’m applying for this year’s applications so will know when my Universities know. Am I worried that I might not get in? Absolutely not. Am I worried that I might get in/ an interview? Absolutely!
I have a personal statement to polish off and I’m awaiting my reference to be completed. It’s a month to go until the calm before the storm. I’m cramming in some extra HCA shifts to help wish the time away, my sister is also getting married between now and the 15th October.. Wish me luck!