04 April, 2018
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Even though my own GAMSAT was now just over eight years ago, I still distinctly remember the immediate aftermath of completing that tumultuous test (as well as recall the actual exam itself in horror). The few friends I knew who were sitting the GAMSAT were very eager to throw off the overwhelming shackles that had burdened them for the last number of months, and dive into an abyss of partying and forgetting, at least for the night following the test! And I vividly recall the unbridled joy that was affectionately released by all attendees of the ‘End of the GAMSAT’ party I attended – the relief, happiness, and mild anxiety that was inundating all attendees was palpable in the many hours of celebration to come.
However, once the immediate celebrations die down, and the realization of the enormity of what you just sat dawns on you, what is there to do? The significance of the test itself is quite enormous to those who go through it, as the opportunities GAMSAT presents are life-changing. And with this kind of enormity in mind, the thousands of students who have just given their all to this single day, which took months of preparation, now must grapple with how their lives may change when the results eventually come out… in the absolute emptiness of anticipation. There is no mistaking it, these months of waiting for results can be absolutely agonizing. As students rack their brains for how they answered the various MCQs within the GAMSAT, when they compare essays they wrote with that of their friends, and lament over the many questions they had to guess due to a lack of time, the anxiety will keep building.
This anxious anticipation will surely destroy you - If you let it. Results aren’t due until the end of May, which in itself will be a life-changing experience (I clearly recall that day), but you can’t lament and dwell on this future event until the fateful day. Your mind won’t stand the cruelty of dwelling on what you can’t change, and what inevitably will happen (i.e. receiving a result).
As such, my humble and simple recommendation is to forget about it! And in forgetting about it, replace the time of lamenting with a time of productivity where your mind will be kept engaged and stimulated, away from the depths of despair that was the GAMSAT.
There are a few options one could potentially take in this time, keeping busy working/studying/playing or preparing yourself for the medical school interview, and I will spend a bit more time discussing the latter. However, with a caveat that you should try to ensure your life goes back to some kind of normality before you even think about medicine again – reconnect with friends you’ve been ignoring, ensure you get back to healthy habits in your diet and exercise and read some good books. Once you’re prepared to think about the medical school application process again, try to have a think as to what your application might be missing – such as research, volunteering, and community experiences.
Volunteering and research experiences are ones that will not only be valuable for your medical school application but will be inherently valuable once you are in medical school and even when you are a doctor! You will find that any and all Royal College applications specializing will require you to have a significant amount of research experience, and so it is best to get in early. Another point is that getting into your specialization of choice will no doubt require you to know ‘the right people’, and volunteering experiences within a field of interest can definitely help you here. Start having a look around at universities, hospitals, community centres and so forth for ways in which you could use your time to help the community, add to research, and grow the desirability of your medical school application. If you want to look at your options & where you could potentially study, PostgradAustralia is a great platform that allows you to explore, compare, and apply for different medical specialties around Australia.
Sitting the GAMSAT® Exam is an achievement in itself. Be proud that you have committed this far to the process because the fear of failure scares a lot of people off. Let yourself feel the relief and after a very much needed to debrief with your loved ones, stash the anxiety away until that special day in late May comes. Regardless of what the outcome is, you will learn from the process, and it will bring you a step closer to your medical dream.