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GAMSAT & Identifying Competitive Advantages


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Strategic insights as to how to increase candidate performance on GAMSAT

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GAMSAT & Identifying Competitive Advantages

  1. 1. Strategic Education Series „Dismantling‟ GAMSAT & Identifying Competitive Advantages
  2. 2. A little bit of ‘legalese’: Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece only. GAMSAT Strategies is not affiliated with GAMSAT, ACER on any of its related bodies. Any reliance upon this material by a candidate is entirely at the candidate‟s own risk with no recourse whatsoever against the author(s).
  3. 3. Let’s get started!
  4. 4. Have you ever had a friend who beat you by 20 or more points on GAMSAT?
  5. 5. Have you ever thought that they are not that much smarter than you and that you don‟t understand how they did it?
  6. 6. This presentation aims to help you to understand why such discrepancies in score can occur
  7. 7. Our company motto is: “Where intelligence meets guile”
  8. 8. We focus on 2 things…
  9. 9. 1. structural weaknesses competitive advantage Identifying and exploiting in GAMSAT to gain a
  10. 10. In case you‟re wondering, that is the “guile” bit
  11. 11. The second thing we focus on is: 2. content knowledge to exploit those structural Endowing our candidates with the required weaknesses
  12. 12. That‟s the “intelligence” bit
  13. 13. FACT: Most people only focus on the content and neglect the structural weaknesses
  14. 14. FACT: Most people only focus on the content and neglect the structural weaknesses That’s why when you have your first look at materials from a traditional GAMSAT training provider, it feels like you just bought an overpriced textbook…boo!
  15. 15. This leads to mediocre results when a little lateral thinking could lead to sensational results
  16. 16. So… Q. What are structural weaknesses?
  17. 17. They are … A. administrate Weaknesses that exist as a product of having to a test on a large-scale
  18. 18. They can be either: 1. Cohort driven or 2. ACER driven
  19. 19. When 6000+ people sit the same test, the majority of those people will attempt their preparation in the same way. Cohort Weaknesses This is particularly the case with GAMSAT as the intellectual but conservative nature of the test populace lends itself to a cohort that copies each other’s approach. This ‘herd mentality’ is a weakness that an individual can exploit in order to generate a competitive advantage.
  20. 20. OK… so let‟s identify these cohort weaknesses…
  21. 21. Section II Cohort Weaknesses
  22. 22. Cohort Section II Weaknesses: Tell-tail signs: Inconsistent essay strength dependent upon topic affinity (i.e. inability to create a system to address topic risk) You say: “If I know something about the topic I can write a decent essay” Provide clichéd responses under time pressure thereby failing to differentiate your essay from the ‘pack’ (i.e. an inability to systematically and reliably generate nonobvious insights in response to a given stimulus) You say: “I got an essay out in time but it was really general and meandered all over the place” An ill-fated reliance on technical English skills that yields little to no gain in marks relative to the cohort You say: “but I’m great at English and I got a 62” Poor time management skills brought about by years of excelling in an education system that rewards exhaustive prior preparation with simplistic assessment methods (i.e. you know what is on the test, you just have to study it) You say: “I worked really hard at school and did really well because of that hard work – I don’t like working under pressure and really like to rely upon my preparation base to deliver an answer” An inability to leverage the repeatable value of practice to attain a better score because the topic changes every time you write a new practice essay You say: “I’ve done lots of practice essays but my performance is still very inconsistent – sometimes I write really well, sometimes I don’t, it really just depends on the day”
  23. 23. Section III Cohort Weaknesses
  24. 24. Cohort Section III Weaknesses: Tell-tail signs: A rote learning bias brought about by the mode of teaching and assessment at secondary school and tertiary institutions • • Poor content targeting • You’re a bio-medical science student or health science student who ‘limped’ through GAMSAT as your entire course was designed around a rote learning bias Accordingly, you struggle to “identify existing knowledge in new contexts” You haven’t tailored your preparation to account for the following: chemistry and biology are said to be worth 40% of the content each, while physics is only 20%, so relatively less important; and out of chemistry and biology students have more difficulty with chemistry
  25. 25. Cohort Section III Weaknesses: Tell-tail signs: Poor question comprehension and ‘key’ information identification • You get ‘tripped up’ by the wording of questions and thus cannot identify the ‘existing concept’ in the ‘new context’
  26. 26. Q. How do you turn cohort weaknesses into strategic advantages?
  27. 27. Answer: “For every identified weakness, there is a corresponding competitive advantage”
  28. 28. COHORT Section II Weakness: How to turn cohort weaknesses into strategic advantages? Inconsistent essay strength dependent upon topic affinity You should use a system to mitigate topic risk thereby disrupting the relationship between essay strength and topic affinity Clichéd responses under time pressure You should use a system to generate non-obvious insights that will simultaneously alert you to the cohort’s likely reaction and provide an alternative sophisticated response An ill-fated reliance on technical English You should identify key score drivers and re-focus study skills energy upon those score drivers that yield the highest net gain in score Poor time management skills You should assess and establish practical boundaries, establish a routine for those steps and then implement as a non-negotiable check list that delineates time based milestones so that you can assess the efficacy of your time management under exam conditions against those milestones An inability to leverage the repeatable value of practice You should develop a system of repetitive constants and identified variables to increase the % of control over an essay thereby leveraging the repeatable value of practice
  29. 29. COHORT Section III Weakness: How to turn cohort weaknesses into strategic advantages? Rote learning bias You should use well-written materials that articulate all concepts from a ‘first principles basis’ so that existing knowledge can be applied in new contexts Poor content targeting You should develop a strong understanding of physical and organic chemistry to distance yourself from the cohort Poor question comprehension and ‘key’ You should learn how to interpret what a question is actually information identification asking and practice how to find the clues in the question that give you the answer
  30. 30. Administrating a test for 6000+ people is a difficult job. Naturally, there are practical constraints which lead to pedagogical compromises. ACER Weaknesses This is particularly the case as ACER has the difficult task of assessing a number of skill sets under significant time pressure. These pedagogical compromises lead to weaknesses in the test that an individual can exploit in order to generate a competitive advantage.
  31. 31. OK… so let‟s identify these ACER weaknesses…
  32. 32. Section II ACER Weaknesses
  33. 33. ACER Section II Weakness: Why? Length Because of the practical constraints of administrating a writing task, Section II is a very short section and therefore provides only a cursory assessment - it is a ‘sprint’ not a ‘marathon’ Marker Fatigue After reading 300 responses on the topic of ‘love’, it would be understandable for a marker to find it hard to establish grounds on which to substantially differentiate between responses and thus award above average marks General stimuli Because of the practical constraints of administrating a writing task, Section II often involves general stimuli as too specific a stimuli would severely disadvantage the cohort
  34. 34. Section III ACER Weaknesses
  35. 35. ACER Section III Weakness: Why? Excessively long impractical blurbs under severe time pressure • This is a deliberate tactic that should alert you to the fact that there is an easier way – make sure you know the core principles so that you don’t have to read the blurbs A multiple choice format • As organic chemistry is fundamentally a structural science with visual depictions that must follow set principles, you can evaluate the validity of a structure without reading the question provided you know the set principles A MCQ format allows for such quick assessments to take place thereby allowing for significant time savings in the exam • A limitation to the “first year organic chemistry” standard • • In our opinion this division does not exist – there have been many advanced concepts on GAMSAT that were never examined in typical first year organic chemistry tests This is also known as the “chemistry major scores an 80 or above on Section III and finishes with an hour to go” phenomenon
  36. 36. Q. How do you turn ACER weaknesses into strategic advantages?
  37. 37. Answer: “For every identified weakness, there is a corresponding competitive advantage”
  38. 38. ACER Section II Weakness: How to turn ACER weaknesses into strategic advantages? Short Length • • This is the main reason why poor writers can still score highly in Section II – if the test was longer, this would not be possible Create a system that eliminates ‘waffle’ and focuses upon allowing you to consistently (across multiple topics) demonstrate your critical reasoning ability Marker Fatigue Identify the key drivers of fatigue and implement protocols to overcome this emotional barrier General stimuli • • • General stimuli are set as a trap – they reduce the difficulty of the task but simultaneously make it difficult to attain a high mark With respect to the distribution of scores, it creates a ‘fat middle’ You can differentiate yourself by using a system to write a specific response with a narrow score
  39. 39. ACER Section III Weakness: How to turn ACER weaknesses into strategic advantages? Long blurbs Re-orientate your practice to the identification and application of coreprinciples in new contexts with less emphasis on ‘blurb reading’ A multiple choice format Re-orientate your approach to ruling out options based on ‘first principles’ A limitation to the “first year organic chemistry” standard Study beyond this level to gain a jump on the cohort
  40. 40. So now that you have read our strategic insights what do you do?
  41. 41. The key is not to fall into the trap of making a „linear selection‟ as to your GAMSAT training provider!
  42. 42. What are your options as to a provider – they comes in all „shapes and sizes‟: Students who have performed well on GAMSAT Doctors Established training providers
  43. 43. Types of GAMSAT Providers Doctors Medical School • It is a trap of linear thinking to assume that because you want to get into medical school a doctor is the best placed to tell you how to do that • What doctors learn at medical school has nothing to do with GAMSAT • To give you an analogy, in the American National Football League , the “punter”, the player that specialises in simply kicking the football, is often selected from the ranks of the Australian Football League, see here: • Applied to GAMSAT, you need to use a provider who is a specialist in the specific skills that allow you to get ahead in GAMSAT
  44. 44. Types of GAMSAT Providers • Established training providers with large numbers of students • If you are using a dominant industry player, then you will be learning the same skills and approaches as everyone else – it is a “sausage factory” • How do you plan to do better than your competitor if you are learning the same approach? • Further, after-market service is a key determinant in consolidating learning – if you are just a number then you will not be able to get the assistance you need when you need to ask a question.
  45. 45. Types of GAMSAT Providers Students who have performed well on GAMSAT • We form part of this category • The only way that a past student can be useful is if they have identified what elements of their success are ‘teachable systems’ and what elements are due to their own natural ability • We focus solely on teachable systems so that the skill set that allowed us to perform is transferable to other people – it is also why we don’t have a Section I course and why we only teach Section II and organic and physical chemistry to an advanced level. • This requires ‘pedagogical insight’ and significant investment into developing resources and is an additional step beyond just attaining a good GAMSAT score
  46. 46. The Types of Students We Attract • Older Students • The increased intellectual maturity of this cohort leads to an increased ability to understand the true nature of GAMSAT and the type of study required to do well • They are also willing to amend their study habits and are willing to adopt different study methods • Frustrated Younger Students • Generally these students have bought a large amount of preparation material from traditional providers but cannot shift themselves from the ‘fat middle’ of the score distribution • This is due to an over-reliance on traditional study methods (lot’s of practice questions, lot’s of desk time, no identifiable strategy) • Younger Students with ‘inside knowledge’ • Generally these students have had an older sibling or friend who has gone through the process and thus has access to ‘generational’ information which allows them to see the task for what it is
  47. 47. What we hope you do • Obviously we’d like you to consider us for your preparation but even if you don’t, we hope that you at least consider some of the strategic insights contained in this document and adjust your preparation accordingly • If you would like further information, you can download an information guide our peruse our online store at We’re also happy to have a chat on the phone to discuss your options– you can call us at any time on 0404 879 422
  48. 48. GOOD LUCK! 