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GAMSAT scores and medical school applications

Is my GAMSAT score good enough?

by , 29 April, 2016
Read 17069 times

Last updated 17th November 2020 - To get the most up to date information, view our Definitive GAMSAT Scores Guide for 2021

We can all exhale now – the first block of anxiety-striking, viscerally painful waiting is done – you have your GAMSAT score! I’m sure many of you reaped the rewards of small bets with friends about on which date ACER would release the results; I for one know that I owe my best friend a coffee. But as the dust settles and we put the momentary ecstasy aside, we so often start to be nagged with a far more serious question: is our work here truly done? In other words, is the GAMSAT score you’ve received actually good enough? 
 
This morning, I awoke to a Facebook feed flooded with advertisements presenting various “Entrance Calculators”, based on one’s GPA and GAMSAT and all I could muster was a swift shake of the head. Put simply, it’s just not that simple. Let’s take a closer look at how it all works…
 
There are four types of entrance styles that medical schools like to use to qualify for an interview:GradReady GAMSAT Millennials Principal's Scholarships

    -  GAMSAT only
    -  GAMSAT & GPA and GAMSAT
    -  GPA & portfolio

 

GAMSAT-Only Medical Schools


These schools only use your GAMSAT score to rank applicants for an interview position - Note that for the final medical school offer, GPA scores may be taken into account. Generally, other metrics such as GPA is a hurdle – USyd use “5”, on a strange 7-point GPA scale, for example – and you can check all of these in the beautiful table below.

 
So, that brings us to ‘cut-offs’, which is the minimum GAMSAT score required to gain entry into a medical school. It’s important to note that this is only a valuable piece of information for GAMSAT-only medical schools, as the combo score is used for other schools. Below is a table of GAMSAT cut-offs from previous years using the best open-source information available. 

Year of entry  USyd  Flinders
2019 69 66
2018 68 76
2017 69 69
2016 68 68
2015 66 69
2014 70 68
 
 

Here’s where it gets a little bit tricky. These scores are the cut-offs for ‘suburban’ CSP and BMP places (see blog on medical school places here), whereas applicants from rural backgrounds can be accepted with lower GAMSAT and combo scores to incentivise our national requirements for a more rounded, representative medical cohort. In addition, for Flinders University it's important to recognise that the scores above are for non-Flinders Graduates - Flinders University reserves up to 75% of intake for internal Flinders Graduates meaning that the cutoff scores for the rest of the country are generally a lot higher. For 2018 and 2019, the cut-off for non-rural Flinders Graduates was 62 and 65 respectively.
 
            “Jack, if I’m above last year’s cut-off, will I get in?”
 
Is my GAMSAT score good enough to become a medical student?Oh wow, thanks for asking. Sadly, it’s impossible to predict what a year’s cut-off will be, as can be seen above. Let’s do a thought-experiment. Everyone from Melbourne that sits the GAMSAT does really well, then proceed to all apply for UniMelb. What’s UniMelb’s cut-off for that year going to be? Astronomical. Additionally, non-GEMSAS schools (USyd, Flinders and Monash) tend to pool applicants who can and want to travel there to interview, so it skews the GEMSAS cut-offs year-to-year, depending on which medical schools and ‘in vogue’. It’s these year-to-year geographical nuances in scores and applications that make it impossible to determine; so best not to even worry about it, just run with what you have got and play to your strengths.


GAMSAT-GPA Medical Schools

These schools use a combination of your GAMSAT and GPA to rank applicants for an interview. Both scores generally contribute 50% to the overall weighting used to rank applicants for an interview but the exact formula used varies across different medical schools and isn't always made available - For example, whether universities use a pure GAMSAT score alone or the equivalent percentile ranking isn't always clear. Regardless, a combination score can be a useful approximation to help you asssess your options and changes. The combination is a certain percentage of an applicant’s GAMSAT and GPA mushed into one concise, three-or-four-decimal-places number. For example:

     -  Pierre has a GAMSAT of 64 and a GPA of 6.57 (calculated on a 7-point scale)…

     -  Pierre’s combination score for UniMelb (who take a 50-50 split) is calculated as follows:

               -  GAMSAT/100                        64/100 = 0.6400

               -  GPA/7                                   6.57/7 = 0.9386

     -  Thus, Pierre’s overall combination score is 1.5786

 
As your GPA is calculated over a smaller scale, a higher GPA will typically be more valuable to your combo score than a higher GAMSAT (yes, *groans*). Therefore, these schools generally tend to favour those with very high GPAs (> 6.5) and slightly lower GAMSAT scores.
 
 

Portfolio Medical Schools


If you’re a good human being with lots of life experience, it’s time to cheer! This entrance style is the only one in which the medical school will get to gauge who you actually are. As such, a wonderful array of skills and fluencies can compensate for less-than-adequate GAMSAT or GPA scores. Average GAMSAT/GPA scores have hovered around the 6.5/61 and 6.4/58 mark for UNDS and UNDF respectively. However, we have no open idea as to how they mark the portfolio, so this information is only slightly comforting.
 
The words “portfolio” strikes fear in the heart of applicants as the word “OSCE” strikes fear in the heart of medical students (one day you will understand that joke and laugh to yourself). A portfolio is a great way to show that you’ve got what it takes to be altruistic and leader-like out in this crazy world and it’s also worth noting that even once applications are submitted, you should continue to search for opportunities over the coming year that may come in handy for your portfolio, should you miss out this time and have to apply again next year. Be proactive and build on your activities now so that you’re making the most of the often-long road to securing a place. Becoming a better person at the same time is just collateral construction.

The portfolio medical schools have provided some general guides on putting together a portfolio:

   - UOW: Portfolio Guide & Portfolio Template
   - UNDA: Portfolio Guide & Portfolio Template
 

Other Notes: Bonuses


Medical schools tend to have sub-quotas (sets of places set aside for special applicants) or bonuses for rural, Indigenous and Torres Straight Islander and previous healthcare applicants. For these individuals, cut-off scores will be slightly lower.
 
For example, Deakin values previous healthcare experience and thus offers varying levels of bonuses (up to 2% on the combo score) for these applicants. Additionally, they do, given their relatively regional location, value applicants who are from financially-straitened backgrounds. Of course, evidence proving eligibility for all of these criteria are required on your application.
 
As another example, four schools currently regard previous postgraduate study in the calculation of your GPA score (UQ, Griffith, ANU and UWA). Furthermore, anyone with a PhD or Masters by Research immediately ‘wins’ a GPA of 7 at Griffith – a pretty good incentive to apply there.
 
 
Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh, right, is your GAMSAT score good enough! All things considered, your GAMSAT score probably is good enough; both because you’re an awesome student and because if you consider where you apply with care and wisdom, your GAMSAT score is not the be-all-end-all.

 

Medical school

Minimum GPA

Minimum GAMSAT*

Bonuses / sub-quota

Criteria for INTERVIEW offer

Criteria for FINAL OFFER of place

Unofficial minimum
scores (2020 Entry)++&

 

 

 

Rural & indigenous

Postgraduate

GPA

GAMSAT

Portfolio

GPA

GAMSAT

Portfolio

Interview

 

 ANU

 5.6

 55

 ✓

 ✓

 50%

 50%

 

 25%

 25%

 -

 50%

 CSP: 1.594
 BMP#: 1.487

 UNDS1

 5.2

 50w

 ✓

 ✓

 33%

 33%

 33%

 50%

 50%

 CSP: 1.544
 FFP: 1.543

 USyd

 5.0 (UAC)

 50

 ✓

 

 N/A6

 N/A6

 N/A6

 Tiebreaker

 100%

 -

 -

 CSP: 1.443
 BMP#: 1.267

 UOW5

 5.0

 50

 ✓

 

 30%

 30%

 40%

 -

 -

 50%

 50%

 CSP: 1.514
 BMP#: 1.497

 Griffith**

 5.0^

 50

 ✓

 ✓^

 50%

 50%

 

 25%

 25%

 -

 50%

 CSP: 1.597
 BMP# : 1.477

 UQ**

 5.0^

 50w

 ✓

 ✓

 50%

 50%

 

 25%

 25%

 -

 50%

 CSP: 1.436
 BMP#: 1.403

 Flinders

 N/A

 N/A

 ✓

 

 Hurdle

 100%  

 33%

 33%

 -

 33%

 CSP: 1.457
 BMP#: 1.426

 Deakin3

 5.0

 50

 ✓

 ✓

 50%

 50%

 

 25%

 25%

 -

 50%

 CSP: 1.534
 BMP#: 1.497

 UMelb2

 5.0

 50w

 ✓

 

 50%

 50%

 

 25%

 25%

 

 50%

 CSP: 1.616
 BMP#: 1.544

 UNDF1

 5.2

 50

 ✓

 ✓

 33%

 33%

 33%

 50%

 50%

 CSP: 1.52
 BMP#: 1.46

 UWA**

 5.5^

 50

 ✓

 ✓

 50%

 50%

 

 33%

 33%

 -

 33%

 CSP: 1.647
 BMP#: 1.479

 MQ  5.0  50  ✓    50%  50%    Tiebreaker  50%  -  50%  
 FFP: 1.534
 

1UNDF/UNDS may consider scores below the minimum where applicants are competitive in other areas.
2 Prerequisites apply (check the UMelb website for more information).
3 Deakin also offers a bonus for financial disadvantage and prior clinical experience in a health discipline.
4 The University of Melbourne calculates GPA according to the following ratio - (Final Year-2: Final Year-1: Final Year) : (1:2:2)
5 The University of Wollongong have introduced an online test called ‘CASPer’, which will be utilized as a primary hurdle requirement for interview ranking 
6 USyd have removed the interview for applications in 2020 for 2021 commencement.The GAMSAT scores alone are used to rank students for offers. Note that it is unclear what weighting they will use for the 3 sections of the GAMSAT exam. You can read more on pg 22 of their application guide
^ A GPA of 7 is awarded to masters by research and PhD studies (NB: UWA award this for PhDs only).
* Overall minimum scores are listed, but all universities also require a minimum section score of 50 in each section (discretionary for UNDS/UNDF)
** Griffith University, UQ & UWA use unweighted GPA Scores
w UMelb, UQ, UNDS & UNDF use an unweighted GAMSAT Score -  Each section of the GAMSAT Exam is weighted equally.
++ 2020 entry unofficial minimum scores drawn from self-reported scores in the PagingDr forum (pagingdr.net). In most instances, the scores listed ignore bonuses (rural etc.), but some scores may include such bonuses and may be for bonded or full-fee place types and will be marked accordingly. Many medical schools do not publish official cut-off scores so these should be used as a guide only.
& Some scores listed here are derived by combining GAMSAT/GPA score (GPA/7 + GAMSAT/100) which is roughly used to rank applicants
#These scores includes rural and other bonuses
CSP - Commonwealth Supported Place
BMP - Bonded Medical Place. For more details see here. 
UAC - University Admissions Centre. For more details visit the USYD Website or the UAC site

 

For those of us that really, really think we aren’t a shot…

 

If your GAMSAT, GPA or life is a teeming pile of slop, fear not! In truth, it’s not worth the time, money and effort to apply through GEMSAS or other schools if you ‘know’, based on the information above and below, that you’re going to fall well below the line. Take some time, regroup, gain a better understanding of medical school entry requirements and attack the process again during the next cycle. The reality is that for most of us, this is the way that we get in. But, you know what? The elation, joy and sheer relief of coming out on the upper side of those cut-offs will be well worth the effort; so stick at it, team.

 
 

Some advice on preferences

 

It’s near impossible to conceive of a way in which we can ‘play the system’, in regards to GEMSAS preferencing. All offers are coordinated centrally via GEMSAS and if a medical school doesn’t want you, you’ll get passed onto your next preference for consideration. Below are my top tips for the surprisingly simple 6-preference process:

     1.  Rank all medical schools on a blank piece of paper based on where you actually want to live/attend/thrive/survive.

     2.  If you do not want to live somewhere, do not preference it.

     3.  If you end up with more than 6 preferences on that page, cut out the ones for which you would be least competitive.

     4.  Voilà! Marvel at your list of prospective medical schools.

 
If you’ve got the scores to match that charismatic grin, it’s time to shape up for the interview…
GAMSAT Scores