So, You Got a Low GAMSAT Score?
08 June, 2022
It’s not always easy to cope with doing poorly at something, particularly if that something is a lengthy exam that you have spent months preparing for. Adding to the difficulty in coping is knowing that the GAMSAT is one of the major hurdles in getting into medical school, so if pursuing medicine is indeed your dream, you will inevitably find yourself facing GAMSAT again. In this blog post, I will discuss how to cope with getting a low GAMSAT score, and where to go from here.
Read 356 times
The first thing you should do after receiving a low GAMSAT score is to take a step back and breathe. There’s no point trying to rush into studying for the next GAMSAT when you’re likely still overwhelmed by the implications of your low GAMSAT score. After giving yourself some breathing time, perhaps a month or so, you can then start looking at your options. Broadly speaking, you can divide your options into two categories: planning to re-sit GAMSAT in the near future, and not planning to re-sit GAMSAT in the near future (or ever again). Whatever you do, be sure to do it with compassion and care, in the same manner that you would help a patient navigate the crossroads of life.
Take a step back from your GAMSAT score
Failure can be crushing, especially (but not only!) if you’re the stereotypical Type A med hopeful who has never failed anything before. Everyone responds to failure differently, but chances are that if medicine has been your goal for some time, and you put in a lot of effort to trying to get through the GAMSAT, you’re going to feel at least a little bit upset.
At times like this, it’s best to take a step back and give yourself some breathing room. It’s difficult to make good, rational decisions when you’re still reeling in shock. Eat some good food, get some good sleep, immerse yourself in your normal university studies or work, and take a break from everything GAMSAT-related for a little while. The length of break time you need will vary from person to person, but I would suggest waiting at least a couple of weeks or so before hankering back down to study for the GAMSAT again.
I do, however, have one caveat to my “wait a couple of weeks or so” suggestion. If you sat a March GAMSAT, you would likely receive your results only a few days before applications close. If that’s the case, I would urge you to still consider applying if your GAMSAT scores are still over the cut-offs (for some universities this is a score of 50 overall, with no section below 50; however, you should check with the university that you are interested in). If you have good experiences for a portfolio, are a rural student, and/or are eligible for any bonuses that the university offers, these extra boosts may be enough to help get you over the line. For more detailed information, check out our guide on Australian Graduate Medical Schools - Admission Requirements.
Re-sitting the GAMSAT exam in the near future
For most people, the logical next step after doing poorly in the GAMSAT is to re-attempt at the next possible opportunity. The good news is that now you are familiar with the structure of the GAMSAT and what it entails, and probably also have a feel for what you need to work on. The bad news is, of course, that you’ll still have plenty of study ahead of you!
After taking your couple of weeks or so off, you’ll need to make a game plan. Think about your strengths and weaknesses from your first sitting (or any other sittings), and how you can tailor your study plan around these. Also, think about when you will have time to study and what an appropriate study schedule would look like given your other commitments. You may find our GAMSAT Study Syllabus helpful for planning out an effective study schedule. You may also find motivation and support in online study groups, such as on Facebook or on websites such as PagingDr.
Re-sitting the GAMSAT exam in the far future (or never)
For other people, re-sitting in the near future may not be a viable option. This may be due to financial reasons (it is a $500 exam!) or due to personal reasons. However, just because you can’t afford to re-sit right away doesn’t mean that this path is closed off to you forever: postgraduate medical programs are filled with people who worked in other fields for a while before deciding to re-pursue their dreams in their 30s, 40s, or even older!
If you can’t afford to re-sit right away, you may consider other options working in healthcare. Some of these may require a GAMSAT score, though typically the thresholds are lower than those for medicine. These other options include dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, nursing, allied health, sonography… the list goes on. For more information, check out our blog article Other Graduate Entry Programs That Use GAMSAT. Some universities offer these degrees as accelerated master’s programs for people with a relevant bachelor’s degree, so you may not be in for too much extra study. As an extra bonus, if you do decide to re-apply later in life, you’ll have plenty of relevant experience to write in your portfolio for the University of Notre Dame and/or Wollongong; Deakin University also offers a bonus to applicants with experience in the healthcare profession.
Another option could be to pursue a research degree, such as a Master’s by Research or a PhD. You can learn a lot about the medical field and make meaningful contributions this way as well. However, make sure that you’re interested in research, particularly if you’re pursuing a PhD, and that you’re not just doing it purely as a pathway for getting into medicine. Doing the same research project for years can be tiring, and if you don’t have a genuine passion for it, you may find yourself struggling to complete it.
If you received a low GAMSAT score, rest assured that you’re not the only one! Take a step back and spend some time relaxing and not thinking about GAMSAT, before having a good think about what the next steps in your journey will be. Whether you re-sit the GAMSAT at the next available opportunity or go into a different field before possibly re-sitting the GAMSAT many years later, there are still many fine pathways available to you.
As mentioned before, if you choose to re-sit the GAMSAT, GradReady has many resources to help you in your journey. Check out our GAMSAT to Med School Podcast for various topics about everything from the GAMSAT exam to life as a medical student – it might help you rediscover your motivation for studying medicine!