GAMSAT Exam Overview
06 September, 2016
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The GAMSAT Exam or Graduate Medical School Admissions Test is defined by ACER as “designed to assess the capacity to undertake high-level intellectual studies in the medical and health professional programs”. The literature suggests that selection criteria (GPA, GAMSAT Exam and interview) only modestly reflects academic performance of medical students, however it is the system we have and remains what we must overcome to achieve the dream of attending medical school.
Interestingly, although designed to measure intellectual capacity, I think that it is mostly a measure of perseverance and resilience. The GAMSAT Exam is not an easy test, and although there are a minority who flourish in standardised testing (I’ve yet to meet one), for the majority of candidates it is about separating themselves from the rest of the pack somehow. Unfortunately, studying for the GAMSAT Exam is no easy feat. Specifically for section three, (details of which I will highlight later), the process is draining, and it is extremely difficult to work on this section for large blocks of time. However, it is how often you can force yourself to work through another few questions, that begin to separate you from the rest, and this is what you must concentrate on.
For GAMSAT Exam Section One, titled “Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences” you are given 100 minutes to complete 75 multiple choice questions. This section is designed to assess your reading comprehension and your ability to apply your understanding to a multiple choice environment. Section One is a mixed bag. Some passages are straightforward in their content, presenting a simple story or image. In these circumstances, you are often directly tested on your vocabulary. You may grasp the meaning of the passage, but are then tested with the obscure multiple choice answers. Other passages are extremely abstract, or are excerpts of ancient poems written with difficult language. Other questions are reasonably easy to interpret, however as the grading of the GAMSAT Exam is based on ranking so it is the difficult questions which will really define your rank.
GAMSAT Exam Section Two is titled “Written Communication” and involves two 30-minute writing tasks. For this section, you are provided with two sets of prompts that relate to a common theme, from which you must create a response. Sometimes they are two clearly defined issues, one being political, one being personal, however other years the distinction is not as clear. For section two, it is a fine line between abiding by the standard rules of essay writing and moving out of the norm to make yourself stand out. Again, it is not adequate to be mediocre, and if the standard of writing across the board is high, being good may still not be adequate. Section two is about defining that line for yourself, and practice is immeasurably helpful.
GAMSAT Exam Section Three, the biggest and baddest section of them all - “Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences”, includes 110 MCQs in 170 minutes. When you add on reading time, this is three hours nonstop on complex scientific topics. The GAMSAT Exam website advises that first year tertiary levels of biology and chemistry is assumed, along with year 12 level of physics. Section three is built upon long, complex passages in which you must work to unpack the relevant information and solve the presented problem. Section three is also double weighted, making it the most important section in the GAMSAT Exam. In addition, a lot of universities across Australia require a pass in all three sections, so practising and perfecting strategies for section three is imperative.
This blog is designed to provide a brief overview of the monster that is “the GAMSAT Exam”. More detailed blogs on each section will be provided at a later date. Remember my advice about resilience and determination – these are the most important ingredients to GAMSAT Exam success! Good luck!