What is the GAMSAT Exam?

07 JUL 2021

Are you confused about the GAMSAT Exam? This blog will explain everything!

The GAMSAT is the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test, which is the postgraduate equivalent of the UCAT for undergraduate medical school applicants. The GAMSAT is used for UK, Ireland and Australia medical admissions, and is managed by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). This exam is a requirement for all postgraduate medical schools in Australia.

The GAMSAT was 6 hours long exam (4.5 hours in a COVID environment) and broken down into the following sections:

  1. Section One: Reasoning in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  2. Section Two: Written Communication
  3. Section Three: Reasoning in the Physical and Biological Sciences

Each year there are two opportunities to sit the GAMSAT exam, one in March and one in September.

Many of MedView’s students will begin preparations months in advance to familiarise themselves with GAMSAT topics in months leading up to the exam. After experiencing the exam once, they can then refine their strategy and weaknesses for their second sitting exam.

GAMSAT Section Breakdown
SectionQuestion TypeQuestions per SectionTime per Section
Section OneMultiple Choice47 questions 64 minutes
Section TwoWritten Essays2 essays60 minutes
Section ThreeMultiple Choice75 questions142 minutes

The GAMSAT tests high order thinking skills under intense time pressure. With our insight oriented workshops, individualised tutorial packages and practice questions and exams, we can support every student with their GAMSAT preparation.

Section One: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

Skills assessed: Comprehension, analysis, synthesising information and critical reasoning.

Section One is known as Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences. This section provides students with passages, cartoons, diagrams or poems which the student must respond to and address the questions provided. 

This section is designed to test a candidate's abilities to interpret the meaning of language, making connections between the lines and looking beyond the words. This includes considering the characters impressions, emotions, humour and sarcasm. In practical terms, this section could be considered a measure of sympathy vs. empathy. 

As a medical student, most of the time you’re not just treating patients, you are treating people, their lifestyle decisions, emotional state and their overall healthcare journey.

Section Two: Written Communication

Skills assessed: Essays, structure and content.

Section Two is the written communication section of the exam. It provides the student with two sets of quotes which act as a prompt to write an essay. Each set of quotes has a common theme, and the first part of this section is to identify the underlying theme of the quote to shape the essay. There is no clear structure to the format of the essay, however marks for this section are awarded based on clear communication and perspective. 

In terms of being a doctor, often they find themselves having to select the appropriate amount of detail, language and structure to communicate with their patient and their families. 

Section Two: Written Communication

Skills assessed: Scientific reasoning and scientific knowledge.

Section Three is known as Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences. This section is the longest of the three sections, both in terms of time and number of questions. This section is the hardest and most challenging for most students. The content of this section is 20% physics, 40% biology and 40% chemistry from a first year university level and is entirely multiple choice. Section three is designed to present you with new information in the context of science you are familiar with. 

This section is very often very time critical and most students do not finish in time which is reflective of patient situations with pressured conditions to make responsible, sage and intelligent decisions. This section is as much about problem solving as it is about having a scientific background. 

GAMSAT Scores

In the GAMSAT exam, marks are awarded for each section individually then averaged to calculate a final score. ACER weights Section Three as double that of Section One and Section Two, however the universities that aren’t part of GEMSAS do not follow this method.

Each section is awarded a score between 0 - 100. These numbers are not a reflection of actual GAMSAT marks obtained in the exam, rather they correlate to merit or how well you did in the GAMSAT. From there they are converted into percentiles which reflect how a student scores compared with everyone else sitting the exam.

How Do I Apply For The GAMSAT?

To be able to sit the GAMSAT Exam you must register through the ACER website. There are March and September sittings as mentioned prior and you’ll need to choose which time, date and location you want to sit the exam. There are testing centres in every major Australian city as well as Wellington for the March exam in New Zealand.

Note that as the run time of the exam is 4.5 hours, this doesn’t include pre-testing procedures, unexpected delays and on the day requirements.

There is a $515 AUD fee to sit the exam. Registration also includes a small question document, as well as access to one mock ACER GAMSAT exam on their online platform.

Do I have to take GAMSAT to Study Postgraduate Medicine?

Yes! All postgraduate medical school programs do require the GAMSAT apart from the Chancellor’s Scholar program at the University of Melbourne.

Next Steps

MedView believes in a holistic approach to medical school admissions, meaning we surround the student with a team of experts to help develop their candidacy and skills in all pillars of the journey to medical school.

Our mission is not to help students to just succeed in their medical school admissions, but to create students to become top doctors with lifelong leadership, skills and connections!

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