Welcome to Revise Gamsat!

Revise Gamsat is a collection of free notes, videos, links, tutorials and resources to help you pass the Gamsat exam.

Learn the Gamsat Assumed Knowledge

You can use this site to brush up on the assumed knowledge for Physics, Chemistry and Biology which is likely to be tested in the exam. The topics are listed in the right sidebar.

Learn how to write a GAMSAT Essay

Find essay writing tips and read real essay plans from the 2009 UK GAMSAT

Revise the ACER Practice Questions

You can also find hints to help you understand the official ACER practice questions broken down by unit. Check the right sidebar for more details.

Ask Questions in the Forums

The Revise Gamsat Forums are a place where you can ask questions about Gamsat, the UKCat and becoming a doctor.

Biology Assumed Knowledge

The following is a (not necessarily complete) list of assumed biology knowledge for GAMSAT. You need to learn this subject to first year degree level, though I found most of the biology questions reasonably intuitive, the clues are often in the question.

Join the forum discussion on this post

Physics Assumed Knowledge

The following is a (not necessarily complete) list of assumed knowledge for Physics in GAMSAT. It’s everything I’ve come across from taking the practice papers and the real exam (London 2009). Learn it all and you’ll probably do well.

  • Kinematics (solving simple problems with kinematic equations)
  • Optics (lenses, focal length, mirrors, shadows)
  • Currents and circuits (parallel and serial circuits, resistors, cells, possibly capacitors)
  • The inverse square law (its applications in electrical, magnetic and gravitational fields)

Chemistry Assumed Knowledge

The following knowledge is assumed in GAMSAT chemistry section 3 questions. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, nor is it necessarily necessary to learn everything on this list to get a good mark, though I’d encourage it.

Learn all this and you’re doing well, though I would encourage you to go beyond this list as it’s not possible to guarantee what will be on the GAMSAT year by year.

Practice Essay Question – The Media

WRITING TEST B

Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme; how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself. You will not be judged on the views or attitudes you express.

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
W. H. Auden
Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T. S. Eliot
Communication is two-sided – vital and profound communication makes demands also on those who are to receive it… demands in the sense of concentration, of genuine effort to receive what is being communicated.
Roger Sessions
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.
Malcom X
Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.
Charles Dickens
Don’t hate the media, become the media.
Jello Biafra

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
W. H. Auden

Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T. S. Eliot

Communication is two-sided – vital and profound communication makes demands also on those who are to receive it… demands in the sense of concentration, of genuine effort to receive what is being communicated.
Roger Sessions

The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.
Malcom X

Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.
Charles Dickens

Don’t hate the media, become the media.
Jello Biafra

Strategies for approaching this question

(Warning, Spoiler Alert. Don’t read this if you want to attempt this question without help)

This essay question is based on a question which came up in the 2009 London GAMSAT about falling standards in the media. After reading these quotes you should have noticed that there is no definite this vs that theme. The underlying theme is the media and subthemes are: power or the media, standards in the media, new media vs old media (become the media) and effects of the media. The 2009 question was like this without a single obvious answer.
You can tackle a question like this this from a wide range of directions using any of the approaches listed above, or one of your own

Points you might consider

Consider things such as:
  • How has new media affected traditional media (by reducing ad revenue, by allowing people to consume in their own time)?
  • Have standards slipped? If so, why?
  • What are the strengths of new media (everyone is a producer and a consumer, media is produced in real time)?
  • Have social networks evolved to cater to the needs of a less socially cohesive society?
  • Is new media isolating or empowering?
  • What are the dangers of traditional media.
  • Does traditional media have a place in the digital world, if so, what is it?

Suggested essay plans

In a short essay you will only have time for one or two key themes so you will need to decide what approach you’d like to take.
  1. Quality standards in traditional media have fallen due largely to a decline in ad revenue thanks largely to the rise in popularity of the internet. reference to W.H Auden
  2. Services like Twitter and Facebook have allowed people to create throw away media, much of which is also poor quality.
  3. However new media also has the power to be emancipatory as it is largely free and unregulated. New media is 2 way so promotes conversation. reference to Roger Sessions

Practice Essay Question – Wealth vs Greed

WRITING TEST A

Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme; how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself. You will not be judged on the views or attitudes you express.

“If all the rich people in the world divided up their money among themselves there wouldn’t be enough to go around.”
Christina Stead

“Endless money forms the sinews of war.”
Cicero

“The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.”
Edith Wharton

“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”
Donald Trump

“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”
Jane Austen

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.”
Groucho Marx

How to tackle this question

(Warning, spoiler alert, do not read this if you want to have a go on your own)

On reading these quotes you should have noticed that the unifying themes here are the positive and negative aspects of wealth (Wealth vs Greed). Once you notice this you have a start on your essay. You could tackle this from a personal perspetive and talk about your experiences of money, or lack thereof , and bring in your knowledge of current affairs, eg. the Bill and Melinda gates foundation, wars over diamonds and oil, the state of the financial markets, etc, etc.

Points you might consider

  • Wealth can bring freedom but also fear, difficulty and loss of potential. How can one thing have such different effects?
  • Is it necessary to be rich to be considered wealthy?
  • Are wealth and poverty relative terms? What is meant by wealth? Does wealth define poverty?
  • Can wealth be a curse as well as a blessing? Consider the Congo for example.
  • How do different societies deal with wealth and poverty, consider the welfare state, the workhouse, criminalisation of the poor.
  • Does poverty promote creativity. Can wealth have the opposite effect?
  • Is a monetary system necessary for humans to live in large groups?
  • Are there any alternative political systems that do not require money, eg. small group anarchy? Can these work on a large scale? Do you have any personal experience with such systems?
  • What is the nature of money? How do we define it? Are wealth and money distinct, eg, a painting may be worth far more that the value of the paint and canvas used. Does the act of painting create wealth?

ABCDE of Medical Ethics

  • Autonomy
  • Beneficence
  • Confidentiality
  • Do No Harm
  • Equality or Justice

Practice Essay Question – Faith & Reason

WRITING TEST A

Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme; how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself. You will not be judged on the views or attitudes you express.

“Faith indeed tells what the senses do not tell, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them and not contrary to them.
Blaise Pascal

“He who has faith has… an inward reservoir of courage, hope, confidence, calmness, and assuring trust that all will come out well – even though to the world it may appear to come out most badly.
B. C. Forbes

“Faith: not wanting to know what is true.
Friedrich Nietzsche

“Reason is our soul’s left hand, faith her right.
John Donne

“The faith that stands on authority is not faith.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.
Mason Cooley


How to tackle this question

(Warning, spoiler alert, don’t read this section if you want to tackle this on your own)

After reading through these quotes you should have correctly identified the key themes addressed by these quotes as Faith and Reason. You could approach this from a lot of different angles depending on your knowledge and experience. You could approach it from the perspective of your own faith if you have one, or as atheist or agnostic person. You could see religion as a social phenomenon and talk about it’s positive and negative impacts.

I just want to make it clear that I’m not personally opposed to faith, I side with Pascal on this one.

Points to consider

You could consider the following points while formulating your answer or come up with your own.

  • Are faith and reason diametrically opposed or can faith be reconciled with reason?
  • Is science making faith redundant?
  • Is faith harmful in that it can be used to deny science (medicine, global communication, etc)
  • Is a society based on pure reason dangerous? (China, Russia, et al.)
  • Is a society with a strong undercurrent of faith in many ways more humane? Can a humane society be achieved without faith?
  • Without faith what becomes of morality?
  • Are there questions that cannot be tackled scientifically?

Suggested plan

In a short essay you will not have time to cover everything. You might consider a plan something like the following:

  1. Science replaces faith because it is more explanatory (support with examples)
  2. … but science cannot replace the feeling that many people have that there is some kind of loving entity (support with examples)…
  3. …ultimately, science and religion tackle different questions and both are valid.

Feel free to post any of your own essays as comments and good luck!

Getting inspiration

To write a killer essay you’ll need to be full up with ideas! The following web sources are good for this:

  1. www.ted.com – TED is excellent! It’s an annual conference in which the best people in various fields across the world give short talks on topics that interest them. Around half of my GAMSAT essay material was taken from TED talks. If you don’t already watch it I’d suggest you take a look.
  2. www.badscience.net – Ben Goldacre’s evidence based medicine blog is good for developing a skeptical mindset. It’s also very funny and political. You may be able to trot out some material from here and it may also be helpful on section I.
  3. www.newscientist.com – New Scientist is a free resource containing much of the content from the magazine. It’s also great for ideas and current affairs.

Feedback

Good luck on your essay questions! If you’d like any feedback on your practice essays do please post them in the forums. Make sure to leave your email address and I’ll get back to you.

Good luck on your GAMSAT!

Essay Timing

The time limit for the section II is one hour. You therefore have to write 2 essays in 30 minutes each which is quite a tough thing to do. This takes timing and organization and is one of the issues that most people struggle with. Within this timeframe you must write an introduction, a decent argument and a good conclusion drawing the threads together and re-iterating the main points. I strongly suggest that you spend some time practicing writing 30 minute essays, ensuring that you get all the necessary sections in.

Zepplin’s 87% GAMSAT Essay plans

The following 87% essay plans by Zepplin are reprinted with permission and thanks. You can read the originals on this thread: http://www.newmediamedicine.com/forum/gamsat/52936-gamsat-essays-2.html

Zepplin:

I got 87 but my memories of the actual content are quite hazy!

Think my first essay was about what constitutes a good government or something along those lines. Brought in stuff like the lisbon treaty in ireland (is a govt putting a treaty to election twice because first time we gave the ‘wrong’ answer appropriate even if the end result of that treaty may have beneficial – and arguably also detrimental – effects on our current flailing economy?) and also the american debate about healthcare (surely a good government is one which ensures healthcare is available to all citizens, yet what happens when a certain proportion of those citizens disagree, particularly when they’ve elected these individuals to represent them?). Discussed the need for balancing often opposing interests without either being irresponsible, overbearing or self interested. etc.

Did this one too:

The media produces only rubbish and we are drowning in it essay.

but took the opposite argument and said stuff like the media has always had a sizeable interest in ‘rubbish’ and things like celebrity, technology has just increased our exposure to it. Improved technology has ensured that anything we are interested in is now immediately accessible and allows us to engage with a multitude of our interests without a fear of conflict or reproach. Also talked about the role of new media and how immediate they can be in contrast to the traditional media routes which are losing the ability to recruit or pay staff to investigate things properly but that role is being taken up by the bloggers etc whose very existence – for the good ones anyway – depends on chasing up the details and inviting debate. The return of the ‘community journalist’ even if that community now skims the globe and may be slightly myopic in viewpoint. What constitutes ‘news’ becoming a much broader and yet individually specific term and defines anything which we personally find newsworthy. People are complex beings who enjoy engaging with all kinds of information; I read Perez Hilton but i also read the economist etc.

Sorry, it was put together better then that but i basically used a couple of examples and argued the second essay fairly informally and personally :)

I have to say I enjoyed the titles on the paper far more then the ACER titles but it’s definitely all about practice! Mine weren’t the most academic or wordy by a long shot but i think they got the point across and i read broadly (particularly about current affairs and culture) which came out in them.

Goldhawkgonks’s 85% Essay Plans

The following 85% essay plans by Goldhawkgonk are reprinted with permission and thanks. You can read the originals on this thread: http://www.newmediamedicine.com/forum/gamsat/52936-gamsat-essays-2.html

Goldhawkgonk:

I think Nic is bang on with the need for the essays to be really sort of current-affairsy. I think it’s the concrete examples to support your arguments that make it a good essay for GAMSAT markers – I think as soon as you start talking in the abstract (or according to one guide I read, start making big sweeping statements or trite rhetorical questions like ‘Is this all humanity is good for?), this is what loses marks.

I got an 85. My essays were:

Big Government vs Small Government

  1. I made a massive generalisation (!) and talked about the UK Government – labour as ‘big state’, Tories as small state, to place it in a current context
  2. Argued for big state as legislation would have prevented current financial meltdown
  3. Argued for small state as lowering taxes, on flip of a coin, would remove fiscal deficit the financial meltdown has caused
  4. Talked about healthcare – big state legislation for smoking, broader benefit
  5. Talked about small state – places onus on individual, and individual responsibility
  6. whacked out a thatcher quote
  7. concluded for big state as preferable as duty of the wealthy to provide for the poorer, as individualism removes collective responsibility for those less able to provide for themselves

Is the media nothing but rubbish and does this damage democracy?

  1. Media is, in the main, owned by corporations who must derive shareholder value from advertising -eg. NewsCorp
  2. To create more ad impacts, the media must be absorbed by more people
  3. To drive readership, media has often become obsessed than entertainment and trash – eg. free newspapers distributed in london, obsessed with celebrity
  4. By failing to cover and interrogate the news, this hinders democracy
  5. HOWEVER the media cn still hold democratic institutions to account
  6. Telegraph in MPs exes scandal
  7. Guardian in the G8 police beating
  8. Therefore not all media is rubbish and it does act to uplhold democracy
  9. But there’s still entertainment value in these stories – especially MPs expenses – ‘worthy’ journalism is still entertainment
  10. To conclude, there is a lot of rubbish, but there’s also decent journalism
  11. But centrally, newspaper readerships are defined by what we as an audience want to read – if we are obsessed with celebrity that’s what WE’LL get, and the damage to democracy is public fault, not the media’s.

PHEW!

My 70% Essay Plan

The following are actual essay plans written by me for the 2009 London GAMSAT section II. I scored 70 for these essays. With hindsight I would have written them in a stronger way. These essays both follow the classic thesis/antithesis/synthesis structure with 2 key opposing points supported by example.

The individual freedom vs legislation in society essay

The first set of quotes were to do with individual freedom vs legislation. To paraphrase as I can’t remember the details:

  1. Governments must strike a balance between individual freedom and legislation, individualism and collectivism – introduction.
  2. In a society like the UK we tend to legislate over health matters such as smoking since we have an NHS and therefore effectively collective ownership over the nation’s health (I don’t necessary agree with this point). Quote from CS Lewis about battle ships in a convoy. If one misbehaves the whole convoy is at risk. Society is bigger than the individual.
  3. The US errs more towards individual freedoms and has no NHS. Discussion of Obama’s heath care reforms. Quote from Ayn Rand about individual achievement being the highest good.
  4. Conclusion there’s no one best way, it depends on the social context and the people affected.

Here I show one example and then a counter example and conclude that neither is perfect, it depends on the social context.

The media produces only rubbish and we are drowning in it essay.

  1. The second set of quotes were to do with the media. The quote that caught my eye was: “The media produces only rubbish and we are drowning in it”
  2. The rise of the internet has reduced the budgets available to commercial broadcasters resulting in reduced standards and sensationalism. Discussion of competition from new media.
  3. The internet allows people to produce their own media, most of which is also rubbish.
  4. There is therefore a lot of rubbish.
  5. New media allows us to filter rubbish. The same technology that created the problem also solves it as producers are also critics, moderators, voters and retweeters, eg twitter, technorati, etc. Discussion of the recent Chinese Earthquake and how it was reported on Twitter within moments.
  6. Conclusion: the media does produce a lot of rubbish and this is due in large part to new technology. However the same technology allows filtering so we are not drowning in it.

So the statement, though part true is irrelevant.

Essay plan layouts

There are lots of ways to write a short GAMSAT essay. I prefer a short argumentative style with a couple of contradictory key points backed up by examples but this is not the only way. Remember, keep your plan simple, you’ll only have time for a couple of pages. I use mind maps for plans as you can put down a lot of information quite quickly.

Thesis / Antithesis / Synthesis

This is my preferred general short essay plan. Most of my GAMSAT essays fit into this general scheme. It goes like this:

  1. Thesis – a good point, made and supported with examples.
  2. Antithesis – an opposing good point, made and supported with examples.
  3. Synthesis – A drawing together of both points. Is one more right than the other? Are both right in different circumstances?

Flow

It is vitally important the your plan has flow. To create flow, ensure that one point leads into the next in some way, either as an example, a counterexample, a point that is similar in some defined way or a point that is different in some explicitly defined way.

Strategies for answering a GAMSAT essay question

I scored 70 on the essay section which is a good score but I know other people who did better. I asked several people who scored highly in this section (80+) what they did and the strategies they used. The results surprised me and with hindsight I would compose my essay slightly differently. My essays tend to be somewhat academic but the really successful essays were emotional as well. I’ve listed the common themes below:

Strategies for getting 80%+

  1. The purpose of a GAMSAT essay is to demonstrate that you are articulate, intelligent and have taken an interest in current affairs, particularly those related to medicine. Fulfill this purpose!
  2. Read the quotes and determine what two opposing principles are being talked about. There will generally be two principles and these will generally have something to do with current affairs. Be current and look for the open invitation!
  3. The instructions say to respond to one or more quotes. You do not need to respond to all of them. Most people pick one but you could also pick a few that hang together nicely for you. All the 80+ essayists responded to only one.
  4. Plan. Take a few minutes to open up your mind and write down the ideas that come. Base your ideas on the general themes in the quotes. You can do this on the answer sheet if you like as the examiner may like to see your working.
  5. Develop an argument drawing parallels and distinctions between the principles. Remember to refer to the quote or quotes.
  6. Be shouty. Unlike an academic essay, polemic is acceptable and encouraged! Remember that your essay will be read quickly and the finer points will be lost. A beautiful, delicate, elegant argument couched in good academic english will not do the job here. Do feel free to get a bit cross (within reason).
  7. Make it flow! It must flow, your ideas must be joined up either as extensions of one another or as counterpoints to each another.
  8. Draw in current affairs wherever possible. For example if the question is to do with small state vs large state you might talk about the British NHS vs. the American Medicare system and President Obama’s plans for a publicly funded healthcare system.
  9. Use the correct words for things. Technical terms reinforce the fact that you are knowledgeable. Don’t use big words for the sake of it but if you’re talking about say Objectivism, use the word and assume your reader will understand it. Use them correctly or you’ll sound like an idiot!
  10. Reread your essays at the end. If you see points that don’t hang together link them with a sentence. If you see words that don’t flow, change them.
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Electrophilic Addition Reactions

Electrophilic reactions occur when a polar molecule attacks a double bond in a carbon chain.

Substitution reactions

  1. Substitution reactions happen in Alkanes and Benzene rings.
  2. They occur when a hydrogen atom is replaced by another atom or group.

Log scale

Rearranging Equations

Massey has an excellent tutorial on rearranging equations.

Massey Equations Tutorial

Inverse Operations

Inverse operation undo each other.

See the Massey University inverse operations tutorial

Order of Operations (BEDMAS)

Equations must be tackled in a specific order. An acronym to help remember this order is BEDMAS

  1. Brackets
  2. Exponent
  3. Division
  4. Multiplication
  5. Addition
  6. Subtraction

For more information and an excellent tutorial see Massey University BEDMAS tutorial

Mitosis

  1. Mitosis is the process by which a single cell divides to produce two cells.
  2. The chromosomes replicate themselves but remain attached at the centriole (the middle bit of each strand).
  3. The nuclear membrane dissolves.
  4. The chromosomes are pulled apart by spindles generated by the two centromeres.
  5. The cell divides


Meiosis

  1. Meiosis is the process that creates sperm and egg cells.
  2. Sperm and egg cells have only half the genetic information of a normal cell, they are haploid.
  3. First the chromosomes replicate as usual.
  4. Then matched pairs align themselves at their centromeres, some dna may be passed between matched pairs (crossover).
  5. The cell divides.
  6. Finally the two daughter cells divide again, leaving one half complement of DNA in each of 4 cells.