10 November, 2023
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So, you’ve decided to follow your dreams of going to medical school, and need to sit the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT®)! “Who on Earth made this exam nearly six hours long?” you may wonder, as you frantically type your section 2 essays. “And why did sitting this test cost over $500?” you may ask, as you anxiously await your results and wonder whether you need to sit the GAMSAT® again. The answer to both of these questions is the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)!
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about GAMSAT® ACER. Specifically, we’ll cover who ACER is, including their involvement in the GAMSAT®. Additionally, we’ll outline important information regarding ACER’s GAMSAT® in Australia, with links to how you can best prepare for your upcoming GAMSAT exam.
ACER creates research-based products and services, which ultimately aim to improve learning outcomes in Australia. Of most relevance for you, ACER is responsible for the development and administration of the Australian GAMSAT®. ACER has a responsibility to ensure that the GAMSAT® is a fair, reliable assessment of students’ academic potential. ACER aims to fulfil this responsibility via various measures, including but not limited to:
Regularly reviewing and updating the content of the GAMSAT®
Allowing reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities
Continuously providing accurate information to test-takers regarding the GAMSAT®
ACER states that the substantial time, labour, equipment and venue hire fees associated with administration of the GAMSAT® justifies its current price of just over $500.
Many medical students come from unique educational backgrounds. For instance, I’ve met lawyers, engineers, tradies, soldiers, and even pilots turned medical students during my degree! The impressive diversity of these recently admitted cohorts exists thanks to the fact that medical schools are gradually moving away from prerequisite requirements. Medical schools still recognise the importance of ensuring that incoming students are prepared for their studies. One way medical schools can ensure that incoming students have the skills required to succeed in their course is by requiring that they have achieved a GAMSAT score above the hurdle requirement. Exact GAMSAT® hurdle requirements vary between universities. ACER is effectively the “middle-man”, responsible for administering an appropriate GAMSAT® test and ranking students’ performance in this test as fairly as possible.
Registering for the GAMSAT® via ACER’s website is a vital step in preparation for the GAMSAT®, for three major reasons. Firstly, registering for the GAMSAT® as early as possible minimises the risk of you missing the usual cut-off date and incurring a $100 “late registration fee”. Secondly, registering for the GAMSAT® creates a “psychological deadline” in your mind, thus improving your motivation to study for your upcoming exam. Thirdly, GAMSAT preparation materials created by ACER itself will become available once you have registered for the GAMSAT®. This study material should ideally be included in your study plan.
There are many ways students can prepare for the GAMSAT®. Some people find that studying concepts and completing practice questions by themselves is enough. Others, like myself, find value in enrolling in a GAMSAT preparation course. This may be because the course keeps them accountable and directs them towards the content that is most relevant for the GAMSAT®, thus making preparation less overwhelming. Another possible option for GAMSAT® preparation is to engage with preparatory material created by ACER themselves. Some of this ACER GAMSAT® material requires an additional fee to access. This ACER-constructed content includes:
Five GAMSAT® preparation booklets,
A mock GAMSAT practice test, and
The opportunity to have a Section 2 practice essay marked by ACER
Anecdotally, many students find ACER’s practice tests a lot easier than the real GAMSAT®. There are many possible reasons for such a discrepancy. Firstly, many students experience a higher amount of stress when sitting the GAMSAT®, compared to when completing the practice paper at home. This sense of pressure can affect students’ performance and influence their perception of the difficulty of the exam. Secondly, the ACER GAMSAT® practice exams are unlikely to have gone through as thorough of a review process, compared to the real GAMSAT® exam. In other words, the ACER practice exams may be viewed as a collection of “throwaway” questions, considered for but not ultimately included in the final GAMSAT® exam. These questions’ difficulty may not have been as thoroughly reviewed to ensure that they are an effective test of intellectual capacity like the real test.
As previously mentioned, ACER’s practice exams are unlikely to perfectly replicate the difficulty of the GAMSAT® exam. However, these resources are still potentially very valuable. We suggest that you should view the material provided by ACER as an opportunity to replicate the GAMSAT® environment, therefore minimising the amount of stress and apprehension you may experience when sitting the exam in future. If you can use other GAMSAT preparation materials in conjunction with ACER’s, even better.
Additionally, ACER’s GAMSAT® is gradually moving further from being a knowledge-based test, towards being a psychometric test. Try not to panic when you encounter a concept you’ve never seen before on ACER’s practice tests, and instead use this as an opportunity to figure out which soft skills (e.g. problem solving skills, reading comprehension skills, stress management techniques or high yield basic scientific principles) are being tested. Medicine hopefuls can use this knowledge about their weak areas, gained from engagement with ACER’s practice material, to develop an appropriate GAMSAT study plan.
In summary, ACER is the company that designs and administers the GAMSAT®. ACER also collates everyone’s responses, and uses this information to generate a final, rank-based GAMSAT® score. You should register for the GAMSAT® as soon as possible, to avoid incurring a “late registration fee”. Registering for the GAMSAT®, via ACER’s website, will also grant you access to ACER’s GAMSAT® preparation material. Whilst not necessarily reflective of the real GAMSAT®, this material should be used to familiarise yourself with the test, anticipate the type of questions that may come up, and make an appropriate GAMSAT® study plan.
Now you might be wondering how to best start your GAMSAT® preparation. The answer is to practice, practice, practice! Sign up for GradReady’s GAMSAT Free Trial to get access to over 40 MCQs along with many other resources and start your preparation today!