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What if I didn't get the GAMSAT score I wanted

What If I Don't Get the GAMSAT Score I Wanted?

by , 23 October, 2021
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After an agonising wait, your GAMSAT score is finally here. With a pounding heart and trembling fingers, you open your email and log in to the ACER website to receive your results. You hold your breath as you wait for the Internet to hurry up and load. When it finally does, your GAMSAT score is… not what you wanted. Where can you go from here?

Celebrate and commiserate

GAMSAT is an odd exam. It is difficult to prepare for, as it tests skills that are impossible to cram, and it tests a breadth of content. The exam itself requires plenty of stamina to sit. And yet, you succeeded in making it through the GAMSAT in one piece! No matter what the numbers on your scorecard say, this is a phenomenal achievement and shows that you are determined and hardworking. So, give yourself a pat on the back! Take a break from studying and stressing and reward yourself for a job well done.

Look at your options

GAMSAT Preparation Courses Now OpenWhen you’re ready, it’s time to work out what those scores really mean. It’s important to know the entry requirements for all of the med schools. If you haven’t already, refer to the medical admissions guide, which contains GradReady’s best estimates of unofficial GAMSAT score cut-offs for all graduate entry medical schools. You may find that your score was good enough after all—even if not for your first choice, perhaps for another university. Consider universities that are not in your city or state; the more places you apply to, the more chances you have of getting in! Moving interstate to study medicine can be a rewarding and enriching experience.

Also, note that some universities (namely the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wollongong) also have a portfolio component to their application process, which means that your GAMSAT score has less of an impact on your overall ranking. The best resources for finding this information are the current university websites and the GEMSAS guide, as the entry criteria can change from year to year, and there have been significant changes due to COVID-19.

The type of place you apply for is also very important. Bonded Medical Places (BMPs), which require 3 years’ return of service in an area of need, have lower cut-offs than Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). Both BMPs and CSPs receive government subsidies, so the cost is around $11k/yr for domestic students. The only difference is that students with a CSP will not be required to do the return of service. The BMP program is an excellent opportunity to get into med school and then go to work where doctors are really needed. Another option is Full Fee Places (FFPs), which tend to have lower cut-offs again as many people are not willing to pay that amount, which can be around $70k/yr or more, depending on the university. Note that Australian citizens who choose to go down this route can get FEE-HELP loans to cover some of the cost, but as the lifetime maximum for FEE-HELP loans typically does not cover the cost of a FFP degree, you should make sure that you have another means of covering the remaining cost.

Take it again!

A vast majority of students sit the GAMSAT multiple times before getting a high enough score to get into med school. Many students find that they do better in subsequent attempts as they have become accustomed to the question style, so don’t give up hope! You know better how to prepare and what sections you need to improve, so your next attempt is bound to be better with a little hard work.

Make sure you’re not just repeating the study you’ve already done! Focus on areas you know you struggled with—whether that’s chemistry, section 1, or essay writing. There are lots of tips on how to target those areas on this blog, as well as general study tips. Select a category or use the search bar to find what you’re looking for! Some helpful articles are: How to Prepare for Section 1How to Prepare for Section 2 and How to Prepare for Section 3.

Another option to consider is formal GAMSAT tutoring or a GAMSAT preparation course. Preparation courses can provide you with a range of learning materials, face to face classes, feedback, and lots of practice opportunities (including question banks). GradReady also offers free webinars throughout the year on our Facebook page, so be sure to follow the page so that you know when these are happening.

If you are planning on sitting GAMSAT again, sign up early to avoid the late registration fee! Booking in a date has the added advantage of giving you more motivation to study and to build study into your regular routine. Having an exam date, or at least a rough estimate of when the date will be, will give you something to work towards as you plan out your study schedule.
Consider alternatives

For some students, spending another year reapplying isn’t an option. That’s perfectly okay as well! There are plenty of other careers in healthcare that don’t require the GAMSAT. Some of these careers may require doing another undergraduate degree at some institutions, but if your original undergraduate degree was in a health-related field, you may be able to get some advanced standing. Alternatively, look at what universities in other states have to offer, as you may find an accelerated postgraduate option—for example, the University of Melbourne offers the Master of Nursing Science, which is an intensive two-year postgraduate course. Another popular alternative is taking up a higher degree by research, i.e. a Master’s or PhD.

Some students continue to apply even while pursuing these alternative routes. This is a good way to cover your bases: if you get in, you can go on to study medicine; if not, at least you are well on your way to a solid alternative career.

In short…

Don’t give up if you didn’t get the GAMSAT score that you’d dreamed of. There are plenty of other options and strategies and it’s not the end of your career. Medicine is a long path, regardless of the road you take, so if it’s truly your passion, you’ll get there in the end! Good luck!

If you’re not sure what your GAMSAT score means for your medical school application, check out our Definitive Guide to GAMSAT Results 2021.