The GAMSAT Exam: A Brief Explanation
Graduate medicine’s application process in the UK is very similar to undergraduate. You still need to apply through UCAS. You still need to have work experience, write a personal statement, and attend interviews.
You will also need to sit an entrance exam. This will most likely be the GAMSAT or the UCAT, depending on the universities you are applying for. You can read more about the UCAT here, and the GAMSAT below.
Hold up, what’s the GAMSAT?
GAMSAT stands for Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test. It originated in Australia for grad-med applications (couldn’t have guessed that one could you) to a handful of universities. Since 1999 UK medical schools have used the GAMSAT to assess applicants. The exam is now used for entry to graduate medicine courses in Australia, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
The GAMSAT consists of three sections:
Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences. This is 47 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) testing your understanding, interpretation, and reasoning of text (mostly, there can also be images and tables in question stems)
Written Communication. Here you’ve got just over an hour to write two essays. One essay will be more analytical, while the other is more reflective.
Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences. 75 MCQs on Biology, Chemistry and Physics, broken down into 40%, 40%, 20% respectively.
How do I prepare for the GAMSAT?
ACER, the governing body for the GAMSAT exam, are irritatingly opaque about preparation for the test. However, students who perform best spend a significant amount of time preparing. Six months seems to be a good target to aim for.
You can read a comprehensive post about how to prepare for the GAMSAT here. See below for a summary.
The first section of the GAMSAT is testing your written comprehension. As most of the questions will relate to a short piece of text, the best way to prepare is by reading. Try reading a wide range of topics, such as articles on the arts, business, science. Poetry and short stories are also a favourite of the GAMSAT, so check out some of these.
This section is testing your writing, so you are going to have to write. Practice, practice, practice. There are numerous quote and question generators available online to find topics. Try getting friends and family to read your essays and provide feedback.
This section is the highest weighted of all the sections, and the one that graduate applicants with non-science related degrees worry about the most. This fear is entirely understandable, as the GAMSAT website would have you believe you need to hold a Biology, a Chemistry, and a Physics degree to do well. However, the GAMSAT section 3 is testing your scientific REASONING more than your scientific knowledge. There is a tonne of information online suggesting preparation techniques and study timetables. I would recommend Griffith’s GAMSAT Review for a comprehensive guide on how to structure your studying.
Griffith’s GAMSAT Review goes into extensive detail about how to systematically approach not only your preparation but also the exam itself. How to understand what a question is asking and then successfully answer it. They have a massive number of excellent reviews from successful applicants on their website, and you can read their GAMSAT blog here for more info on preparing for the GAMSAT.
A massive thank you to Griffith’s GAMSAT Review for sponsoring this post, make sure to check them out if you’re preparing for the GAMSAT!