The common misconception is that the GAT is a 3-hour waste of time, a test that doesn’t really test anything and doesn’t affect you unless, for whatever reason, you miss your end-of-year exams. However, this is not the case.
In this article, we explain why it’s important to take the GAT seriously, and how you can prepare. But first, what is the GAT?
The GAT provides an indication of your performance.
The General Achievement Test is exactly what its name suggests – it’s a 3-hour written exam consisting of three components designed to assess your skills in three different areas:
Mathematics, science, and technology
Humanities, arts, and social services
The ‘written communication’ component is assessed in Section A of the GAT exam, where you’re required to write two pieces: an informative report based on a bunch of facts, diagrams, and data provided, and an expository essay presenting various opinions on a contentious topic.
The other areas are tested in Section B, which consists of 70 multiple choice questions. All the information you need to answer the questions is provided in the exam, so you don’t have to necessarily study maths, science, arts, etc. to answer the questions.
So if that’s the case, what’s the point of the exam?
The GAT can improve your study scores.
Because the GAT indicates how good you are in various subjects, the scores you get in the GAT provide a prediction of what study scores you’ll get at the end of the year. This can directly impact your final study scores.
If your final exam marks are significantly lower than those you got in the GAT, then your exam will be re-marked. As a rule, when your exam is being re-marked, the score is not allowed to go down; the score can either stay the same or go up. So, the GAT can only benefit your final marks.
Like insurance, the GAT protects you.
Apart from being used to ‘double-check’ your exam marks, the GAT is also used if for some reason, you’re not able to sit your end-of-year exams, or, if you sit the exam but believe an unfortunate circumstance prevented you from doing as well as you’d hoped.
In both these cases, you would apply for a Derived Study Score. If your application gets accepted, VCAA will use the GAT and any SACs to predict how you would have performed in your exam(s) under normal circumstances.
If the score they predict is higher than the score you actually got on the exam (if you sat it), then the predicted (derived) study score will replace the actual one. If the predicted score is lower, then you will still retain your original exam mark.
Your GAT score can affect your SAC marks.
Since the GAT is completed by everyone in the state, it helps provide a ‘baseline’ measure for comparing all students in the state, in addition to the end-of-year exams. This helps VCAA ‘moderate’ school assessment, which means checking and adjusting scores from school-assessed coursework to even out marking differences between schools and to ensure everyone’s being marked fairly.
Take some time to prepare for the GAT.
While you don’t have to spend hours learning material from all different subjects, it’s a good idea to look at one or two past GAT papers to familiarise yourself with the types of questions asked. Figure out your exam strategy: which section will you tackle first? How much time will you spend on each section? What will you look at first during reading time?