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GAMSAT Physics for Section 3

Published on
May 12, 2024

Despite its critical relevance to medical practice, GAMSAT physics preparation is often one of the more overlooked aspects of the GAMSAT syllabus. Indeed, almost every branch of hospital medicine requires an excellent understanding of physics to a degree equivalent (or even greater) than chemistry

From a practical point of view, GAMSAT physics questions involve a significant amount of applied mathematics. However, the physics formula sheet becomes meaningless if the concepts underpinning the equations are poorly understood by the candidate. Contrary to popular belief – just because mathematical methods of analysis are required to solve GAMSAT physics questions, this does not mean they alone are sufficient. A comparison can be made to section 2, where an excellent vocabulary is necessary but not sufficient to guarantee a high score. 

In this section, we will provide a brief overview of the concepts examined by the GAMSAT exam to prepare candidates to handle some GAMSAT physics practice questions and equations

Role of Physics in GAMSAT Section 3

Physics plays a pivotal role in the GAMSAT Section 3, serving as a bridge between the theoretical and practical aspects of medicine. While the emphasis on biology and chemistry is evident, the integration of physics concepts underscores the interdisciplinary nature of medical practice. 

From understanding the mechanics of the human body to the principles governing medical equipment, physics provides the foundational knowledge essential for aspiring medical professionals. In the GAMSAT, this translates to questions that challenge candidates to apply their physics knowledge in real-world medical scenarios.

What makes GAMSAT Physics Difficult?

GAMSAT physics questions are intricately designed to test a candidate's ability to apply foundational concepts in diverse situations. For instance, while there are no exclusive physics questions in the GAMSAT, the integration of physics with other sciences is evident. It's not uncommon to encounter questions that blend physics with biology or chemistry. 

Furthermore, the GAMSAT doesn't merely test rote memorization of formulas.  Instead, it emphasizes the understanding and application of concepts. This means that candidates might be presented with questions that require foundational mathematics knowledge to navigate, linking them to the broader GAMSAT syllabus. 

For instance, a question on projectile motion might necessitate an understanding of trigonometry, as highlighted in the GAMSAT maths article.

What are Common Topics for GAMSAT Physics?

As mentioned in the introduction, the GAMSAT physics syllabus requires the candidate to be comfortable with mathematical analysis. The following is a broad list of physics and mathematics concepts that a candidate may encounter in Section 3 of the GAMSAT exam.

  1. Newtonian Forces, Motion, and Gravity 
  2. Work, Energy and Power
  3. Fluids and Solids
  4. Statics (Equilibrium) Vs. Dynamics
  5. Light and Optics
  6. Sound and Sound Wave Characteristics
  7. Electrostatics and Electrical Circuits
  8. Electromagnetism 
  9. Atomic Structures and Radioactivity
  10.  Trigonometry, Algebraic Manipulation and Probability

Mastering GAMSAT Physics: A Conceptual Approach

1. Focus on Understanding the GAMSAT Physics Concepts & its Application

Once you have established a solid mathematical foundation for understanding GAMSAT physics equations, it is time to learn and review the relevant GAMSAT physics concepts. 

As is the case with any fundamental science, a candidates' common pitfall is to be trapped by the irreducible complexity and the enormous quantity of detail when creating their own GAMSAT physics notes. 

Remember – the best way to prepare for the GAMSAT is to master concept applications.

This means less time worrying about the proof of the physics formulas underpinning Bernoulli’s Law and more time considering what this law means and why it may be important. 

2. Breaking down the Syllabus

At Fraser’s, we emphasise this practical approach to GAMSAT physics practice questions by breaking down the physics syllabus into bite-size chunks. To focus and track our students’ GAMSAT preparation, you can access our GAMSAT Physics concepts checklist. This checklist is one of the free Fraser’s resources available to anyone.

3. Learning Physics Concepts Application with Solving Practice Questions

We firmly believe that GAMSAT physics practice questions should form the majority of a successful GAMSAT preparation habit. Even if a candidate is still in the process of reviewing core physics concepts and GAMSAT physics equations, attempting questions will highlight the candidate’s areas of weakness. 

In fact, GAMSAT physics practice questions act as a ‘spot-check’ for a student’s knowledge base. Furthermore, as a candidate attempts to apply physics formulas, there will be concurrent mathematics review! 

Consider the following – a question on thermodynamics may require the examinee to perform a unit conversion, thereby improving their algebraic manipulation skills. 

4. The Graduate Approach: Building from the Ground Up

The final aspect of GAMSAT physics preparation is the ‘graduate approach’. To master a concept (rather than rote-learn a rule), a candidate must build on a solid foundation. This means starting at the beginning! There is no use in attempting to understand fluid dynamics without first comprehending Newton’s laws of forces and motion. 

It is reasonable to pick up a year 11 physics textbook as a ‘jumping off point for your GAMSAT physics preparation. This is essentially the guiding principle behind Fraser’s GAMSAT bridging courses – start with the fundamentals, and build upwards from there!

GAMSAT Physics Preparation – Where to Begin?

First things first, don’t give up on physics! As mentioned in the introduction, the understanding of physics is critically important to your medical career. After all, the human body engages key physics equations when it pumps air into our lungs or blood across our body. In fact, one of the first tests any physician performs on a patient is measuring their blood pressure! 

Mathematics in GAMSAT Physics

GAMSAT Physics preparation should always begin with a review of mathematics. The standard of mathematics required by GAMSAT, and medical school in general, can be summarised as follows for the different states of Australia:

New South Wales Mathematics Advanced
Victoria Mathematics Methods
Queensland Mathematics B
Western Australia Mathematics Methods
South Australia Mathematics Methods

It is important to understand that you will not be explicitly examined on your mathematics abilities as in high school or university. The GAMSAT mathematics knowledge requirement serves a similar purpose as all other fundamental sciences included in the GAMSAT section 3 syllabus – they provide context. Having studied mathematics, you will be able to efficiently manipulate and solve GAMSAT physics equations and recognise the implications of their components (the most common of which is logarithms).

A brief example of this application-based mathematics can be seen in questions concerning torque around a joint or pivot. The comprehension of such a question would require a basic understanding of Newtonian mechanics. The solution however, may necessitate that a candidate uses basic trigonometry or Pythagorean geometry to arrive at the appropriate answer.

So, How to study for GAMSAT Physics?

1. Cover the Fundamentals

To excel in the GAMSAT, it's crucial to have a comprehensive grasp of the syllabus. Every candidate must be well-acquainted with the topics and subtopics they're expected to cover. However, it's equally important to recognize that the GAMSAT isn't static; it has evolved considerably since its inception. Changes in the format, inclusion of new topics, or shifts in emphasis can significantly impact the preparation strategy.
This is precisely why Fraser’s GAMSAT takes great care to review each GAMSAT season and update our GAMSAT syllabus and question catalogue. 

2. Maintain a Physics Question Log

Moving on to more practical GAMSAT physics preparation advice – the question log is an invaluable tool. The previous section of this article has already mentioned the utility of summarising GAMSAT physics concepts and equations into notes. 

However, it is also simply not sufficient to spend hours solving GAMSAT physics practice questions without review. The question log is a system of carefully dissecting and cataloguing GAMSAT questions selected by candidates for their complex logic or difficult and unfamiliar concepts. A question log is doubtless the best way to study physics in the lead up to the GAMSAT exam. For an example of a question log, click here!

3. Grasping the 'Why' Behind Physics Concepts

Our final tip is this –  do not be content until you grapple with the justification of unfamiliar concepts. For example, the questions of  ‘how’ and ‘why’ a satellite orbiting earth remains in free fall despite its distance to the earth’s surface remaining the same are far more important than the memorisation of any GAMSAT physics equation concerning gravity or circular motion.

4. Prepare for the Interdisciplinary Nature of GAMSAT Physics Questions

A deeper understanding of physics concepts is important in the GAMSAT exam, as exclusive physics questions in the GAMSAT are almost impossible to find. Physics concepts may be integrated with biology and chemistry just as they are in the human body. You may be given a question that discusses the change a surfactant chemical may make on air pressure in the lungs. 

In breaking down such a stem, you may notice that it combines chemistry (surfactant composition), biology (lung anatomy), and physics (air pressure). As with all other sections of the GAMSAT exam, GAMSAT physics questions prioritise rationale and logic above rote memorisation.

GAMSAT Physics Video: The Best Approach!

Where to from here? 

If you are interested in further improving your GAMSAT section 3 physics, check out these free resources!

GAMSAT Physics Formula Cheat Sheet

GAMSAT Physics – Basics of Circular Motion

GAMSAT Mathematics – An Introduction

GAMSAT Section 3 Question Log

Check out other articles in this series!

What is GAMSAT Section 1?

What is GAMSAT Section 2?

What is GAMSAT Section 3?

For general GAMSAT news and updates, check out the articles below!

What is the GAMSAT?

GAMSAT – Latest News

How Hard is the GAMSAT?