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What is the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test)?

Get an overview of the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test), with everything you need to know from the Exam Structure and Exam Day Schedule to how to prepare for one of the most important exams of your career and answer the question ‘What is the GAMSAT?’

What is the GAMSAT
(Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test)

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Many students ask, ‘What is the GAMSAT?’

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT ®) is a standardised exam coordinated by the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) designed to ‘assess the capacity to undertake high-level intellectual studies in the medical and health professional programs’. It is a test required for applications to all but one Graduate Entry Medical course in Australia, as well as various other dentistry, optometry and podiatry courses. In essence, the exam is designed to assess your analytical and critical thinking skills as well as how you organise and communicate your ideas in order to select candidates for Graduate Entry Medical Studies.

If you’re new to the GAMSAT ® , there’s a lot of new information you’ll need to go through because it is such a big and important exam. We know it can be overwhelming, so we’ve asked one of our expert tutors, Catarina, to summarise the contents of this page in this What is the GAMSAT ® Exam video guide.

What is the purpose of the GAMSAT?

  • The Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Section aims to evaluate a student’s ability to sift through information, identify key points, and make justifiable deductions
  • The Written Communication Section is designed to test your ability to communicate ideas to an unknown audience under strict time pressure
  • The Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences Section aims to test the ability to apply learned knowledge of physiological systems to new information or data

GAMSAT Information

In essence, the exam is designed to assess your analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as how you organise and communicate your ideas, in order to select candidates for Graduate Entry Medical Studies. The GAMSAT @ tests skills that will be needed both as a medical student and as a professional.

In hospitals, interactions with patients begin by trying to understand the medical and social history of a patient. You must be focused and consider all details of a patient’s story in order to determine their physical and mental state, and thus provide medical care. The best medical students and professionals are able to provide holistic care in response to a person’s situation. Imagine a person fractures their femur and comes to a hospital for care. There’s no point sending them home with a repaired femur if they live alone in an upstairs bedroom with no railing. GAMSAT ® Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences aims to evaluate a student’s ability to sift through information, identify key points, and make justifiable deductions as is critical in the life of a medical professional.

Communication is another essential skill in all medical professions. You need to be able to convey information clearly and empathetically to patients and their families, as well as communicating concisely and accurately with other medical professionals. More broadly, scientific communication is an essential ingredient in the trust communities will place in healthcare. GAMSAT ® Written Communication is designed to test your ability to communicate ideas to an unknown audience under strict time pressure.

Medical decisions and strategies are almost always based on assessments of data, scientific information and systems. The ability to interpret patterns and anomalies, and use this to make decisions regarding a person’s health, is key in life as a medical professional. This information can come in almost limitless forms, whether that be imaging, blood tests, ECGs, histories or examinations. A good medical professional and medical students will have the ability to apply their learned knowledge of physiological systems to new information or data. These are the skills that are tested in GAMSAT ® Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences.

Do I need to complete the GAMSAT Exam to study medicine?

To study medicine in Australia as a graduate, you will most likely have to complete the GAMSAT ® exam . There are currently 14 Medical Schools that provide a Graduate Entry Medical Program, 13 of which require the GAMSAT ® exam - For a full list, see further down this guide here.

The exception to the pattern is the Graduate Entry Medical Program offered at Monash University. The GAMSAT ® Exam was removed as an admissions criteria for this specific course in 2017, and is no longer required. Note, however, that domestic applicants for the Graduate Entry Medical Program at Monash University must have completed one of the approved bachelor degrees at Monash University - that is to say that external domestic applicants are no longer accepted.

For more details on the Monash University Medical School, you can visit their website.

It’s also important to note that there are undergraduate pathways to medicine. If you plan to take this path, you’ll need to take the UCAT ® exam.

Is GAMSAT Harder Than UCAT?

The general consensus is that the GAMSAT ACER exam is harder than the UCAT ® . This is due to the following reasons:

  • The GAMSAT ® exam is nearly three times longer than the UCAT ®
  • The UCAT ® has no assumed knowledge, it is rather concerned with transferable skills as it is targeted to upper secondary school students. However, the GAMSAT ® exam requires specialist knowledge of Year 12 and first year university level physics, chemistry and biology
  • There are no essays in the UCAT ®
  • The UCAT ® is a more structured exam and is therefore easier to prepare for, whereas the GAMSAT ® covers expansive curriculum areas

For more information about the difference between GAMSAT ® and UCAT ® , check out our guide on UCAT ® vs GAMSAT ® .

How do I apply for the GAMSAT Exam?

The GAMSAT ® exam is offered twice a year, once in March and once in September. To find the most up-to-date information on registration dates and requirements, you should visit the official ACER website.

There are also different fees associated with completing the GAMSAT ® exam, so it is important to make sure you are aware of the registration dates and late windows. Visit our guide to GAMSAT ® 2024 to learn more about this.

In order to sit the GAMSAT ® exam students must create an online account and provide a valid email address. This account will be used for all communication with ACER, including test times, accessing the actual exam and finding your results.

How do I know if I am eligible for the GAMSAT exam?

GAMSAT ® eligibility is determined mainly by your progress through a Bachelor or undergraduate degree, and your intentions to study a course where the GAMSAT ® is a prerequisite. You are eligible to sit the GAMSAT ® exam if you have completed a Bachelor or undergraduate honours degree, or if you will be in the penultimate or final year of your degree at the point of taking the exam. The best place to find the most up-to-date information on eligibility for the GAMSAT ® exam is on the official ACER website, which you can find here.

In almost all cases, you are still eligible to take the GAMSAT ® exam and be accepted into a medical school if you have studied an undergraduate degree in a non-scientific field. GAMSAT ® preparation from a non-science background may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The good news is that very few prerequisite requirements exist for Australian graduate-entry medical schools with only the University of Queensland requiring the completion of certain subjects (or their equivalents) - For further information, refer to the UQ website here. Of course, these requirements can change and you should consult the official course requirements of the specific university to find out what subjects or degrees are required. It is also worth noting that while a scientific background is not essential for eligibility in the GAMSAT ® exam, it is necessary to have a relatively well-founded biological and physical knowledge-set in order to perform well in the exam.

There is a special case for students at the University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentistry in the UK if you believe you have sufficient intellectual maturity and subject knowledge to meet the demands of the test.

What GPA Do You Need to Sit the GAMSAT?

There is no hard and fast rule concerning your GPA, however, it would be extremely beneficial to have a GPA of 6.0 and above. This is because you may not necessarily have to score as high in the GAMSAT ® exam when you have a higher GPA as most universities consider your GAMSAT ® score, GPA, and medical school interview score when deciding whether to offer a place.

Visit our blog article to learn more about what options you have for studying medicine with a low GPA.

How Long is GAMSAT Valid For?

As of a change announced by ACER in November 2022, your GAMSAT ® results are now valid for four years in Australia. Previously, results were only valid for two years. For example, if you sat the exam during March 2023, the result will be valid for your:

  • 2024 application for a program commencing in 2025;
  • 2025 application for a program commencing in 2026;
  • 2026 application for a program commencing in 2027.

In addition, this change is backdated, so GAMSAT ® exam results from September 2020 can be used for medical schools application in 2024 with a 2025 start.

Note that the below information is specific to Australian medical schools and the details may differ, particularly for students based in the UK - Students in the UK should check the details on ACER’s website here.

Currency of GAMSAT Results

Application Details Valid Results
Apply 2024 for 2025 Commencement March GAMSAT®: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
September GAMSAT®: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
Apply 2025 for 2026 Commencement March GAMSAT®: 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025
September GAMSAT®: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
Apply 2026 for 2027 Commencement March GAMSAT®: 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026
September GAMSAT®: 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025

2020-2024 Changes to the GAMSAT Exam

We have witnessed unprecedented changes to the GAMSAT ® Format in the last few years due to COVID-19.

The implementation of social distancing restrictions and lockdowns around Australia and the world have forced the exam to move away from a paper format to a digital format from 2020 onwards.

In addition, in November 2022, ACER announced that GAMSAT ® Exam results are now valid for 4 years instead of the usual 2. You can learn more about how this major change affects your GAMSAT ® Preparation and medical school application through our comprehensive guide to GAMSAT ® 2024.

In 2024, the biggest change to the GAMSAT is that the examination will consist of two distinct test windows. The initial window focuses on the Written Communication Section, which will be administered through remote proctoring for all participants. The next test window encompasses the Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences. These sections will be undertaken at physical test centers, occurring approximately two weeks subsequent to the Written Communication test window.

Current GAMSAT Exam Structure

Remote Proctored Component

Written Communication Tests your general knowledge and ability to draw on prior knowledge under pressure to construct a cohesive argument or reflection 2 Questions 65 Minutes

Test Centre Component

Description Breakdown Duration
Registration Pre-testing procedures should be faster as there will be fewer candidates per testing venue than in previous years. However, it is not possible to guarantee start and finish times just in case unforeseen delays occur. - ~1 hour
Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Tests critical reasoning skills as well as the ability to draw conclusions based on evidence with stimuli derived from a variety of non-scientific texts. 62 MCQs 100 Minutes
Break Take a well deserved break! Consider bringing your own food as the break only lasts 20 minutes and purchasing food is not always an option - 20 Minutes
Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences 40% Biology, 40% Chemistry, 20% Physics 75 MCQs 150 Minutes

ACER has now also released their 2024 GAMSAT ® Information Booklet with details on the format of the exam.

From 2024 onwards, the GAMSAT ® exam will be delivered in two separate test windows. The first will be an online proctored examination for all participants which tests written communication. The second encompasses Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences and is examined in a digital test at multiple venues over a set time period, usually about 2 weeks.

GAMSAT is offered twice a year, in March and September. GAMSAT which was previously delivered as paper based test will be delivered as a digital test from 2020 onwards.

ACER (Information Booklet)

ACER will randomly allocate candidates to testing venues and sessions in their selected test centre location. This is subject to candidate demand and the availability of testing venues at that location. ACER advises to register early as places may be limited.

Candidates should be aware that, if changes to government restrictions for COVID-19 mean the exam can no longer be conducted at an allocated test centre, ACER will contact all affected candidates by email with further instructions. ACER notes as well that “should you choose not to, or cannot, undertake a sitting of GAMSAT ® at a test centre that can remain open and host the GAMSAT ® under the relevant restrictions, in those circumstances ACER is under no obligation to provide alternative arrangements for you to undertake the GAMSAT ®.

The structure of the GAMSAT ® Exam has undergone several revisions, outlined in detail below.

For the current format, there is a 20 min break between the Humanities and Science sections. Although the total testing time at the physical test centers is 4 hours and 10 minutes, ACER recommends that students should anticipate being at the test center for 5.5 hours with the break and administrative time.

When sitting the GAMSAT ® Exam, students are allowed two (2) sheets for the Written Communication Section, and four (4) sheets for the Humanities and Biological Sciences test Sections (2 sheets per section). In regards to other equipment allowed during the exam, this is comprehensively covered on page 14 of the ACER Information Booklet. Also outlined in the information booklet is that students should make sure that they have the correct identification documents prepared before exam day, as well as their Admission Ticket.

Previous GAMSAT Exam Structures

Paper GAMSAT Exam Structure

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3
Number of questions 75 2 110
Reading Time 10 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes
Writing Time 100 minutes 60 minutes 170 minutes

A quick glance of the numbers above should reveal that the paper GAMSAT ® Exam was a real marathon, with around 6 hours of testing time - Students could in fact expect to remain at the venue for roughly 8-9 hours including administrative time and the 1 hour lunch break.

That is not to say that the new digital format is any less gruelling - Indeed there are additional challenges posed by the digital test, including an inability to directly annotate questions as well as the added element of eye strain from viewing a device screen for such an extended period of time.

May 2020 Online GAMSAT Exam Structure

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3
Number of questions 40 2 60
Test Time (Reading & Writing time combined) 60 minutes 65 minutes 120 minutes

Interestingly, this particular sitting was delivered remotely with online proctoring. In addition, Section 1 & 2 was conducted in a different session from Section 3. Students could sit Section 1 & 2 on a particular day and Section 3 roughly a week later. There was no separate reading time for this sitting - Reading time was incorporated into the writing time.

It now appears that the format of the May 2020 Online GAMSAT ® Exam will remain a one-off occurrence, reflective of the unique and challenging circumstances at the beginning of 2020 and COVID-19.

2021 GAMSAT Exam Structure

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3
Number of questions 47 2 75
Reading Time 6 minutes 5 minutes 8 minutes
Writing Time 64 minutes 60 minutes 142 minutes

From September 2020 onwards, the GAMSAT exam moved to a computer based test delivered in supervised test centres, rather than remotely. The above exam structure ran from September 2020 - September 2021, and included a 30 mins lunch break rather than a 1 hour lunch break. Due to the shortened duration, ACER ran two sittings a day, with a morning sitting at around 7 AM and an afternoon sitting at 2PM.

GAMSAT Exam Structure

GAMSAT Exam ®

(Graduate Medical School Admissions Test)

  • Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Written Communication

  • Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

GAMSAT Format

As you can see in the chart above, the GAMSAT ® Exam is made up of three sections:

  • Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences - 62 MCQs in 100 mins
  • Written Communication - 2 written tasks in 65 mins
  • Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences - 75 MCQs in 150 mins

What are GAMSAT questions like?

The type of questions asked vary in each section:

  1. Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

    62 MCQs, 100 Mins (including 8 mins reading time)

    This section utilises the multiple choice format and tests your interpretation and understanding of concepts in a cultural and social context. It involves responding to various different types of texts, from fiction and poetry to cartoons

    Visit our Humanities and Social Sciences Guide to learn more on how to prepare.

  2. Written Communication

    2 Written Responses, 65 Mins

    The only section of the GAMSAT ® Exam that does not use the MCQ format. This section involves two 30-minute writing tasks, candidates will be expected to type their responses. For each piece of writing you are provided with a distinct set of prompts (generally quotes) that relate to a common theme to use as the basis of your response. The two pieces are usually differentiated on the basis of their focus - The first task typically deals with socio-cultural issues while the second task tends to deal with personal and social issues.

    Visit our Written Communication Guide to learn more on how to prepare.

  3. Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

    75 MCQs, 150 Mins

    This section is multiple choice and tests your reasoning and problem solving skills within a scientific context. The questions are based on three discipline areas along the following ratios:

    You are advised to have a level of basic knowledge equivalent to first year university levels of biology and chemistry along with a Year 12 level of physics.

    Visit our Biological and Physical Sciences Guide to learn more on how to prepare.

Download our GAMSAT ® Study Syllabus for a full list of science topics as well as tips and advice for humanities:

Your overall score is in general determined as follows:

Overall Score = (1 x Section I + 1 x Section II + 2 x Section III) / 4

*This formula means that your Overall GAMSAT ® score is 50% Science and 50% Non-science.

Note however that there are some exceptions to this formula - to learn more about how GAMSAT ® scoring works and view different university score cutoffs, visit our GAMSAT ® Results Guide

GAMSAT Exam Day Overview

Remote Proctored Component

Written Communication Tests your general knowledge and ability to draw on prior knowledge under pressure to construct a cohesive argument or reflection 2 Questions 65 Minutes

Test Centre Component

Description Breakdown Duration
Registration Pre-testing procedures should be faster as there will be fewer candidates per testing venue than in previous years. However, it is not possible to guarantee start and finish times just in case unforeseen delays occur. - ~1 hour
Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences Tests critical reasoning skills as well as the ability to draw conclusions based on evidence with stimuli derived from a variety of non-scientific texts. 62 MCQs 100 Minutes
Break Take a well deserved break! Consider bringing your own food as the break only lasts 20 minutes and purchasing food is not always an option - 20 Minutes
Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences 40% Biology, 40% Chemistry, 20% Physics 75 MCQs 150 Minutes

Although the total test time is itself around 4 hours and 10 minutes, ACER recommends that you be prepared to spend at least 5.5 hours at the test centre due to registration and procedural time. As such, it can be argued that the GAMSAT ® Exam is as much a test of perseverance and stamina as it is a test of your analysis and critical thinking skills.

For more information on the exam day itself and how to register for the GAMSAT ® Exam, visit our guide to taking the GAMSAT ® Exam in 2024:
GAMSAT ® 2024 - What you need to know

GAMSAT Exam - Theory vs Problem Based Learning

It is important to remember that the GAMSAT ® exam is focused on examining your reasoning and problem solving skills rather than your recall of specific content. This applies in particular to Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences . Although the assumed knowledge is equivalent to first year university levels of biology and chemistry along with a Year 12 level of physics, you will largely be faced with advanced-level, novel content designed to assess your reasoning skills. In fact, over the past two years we’ve seen a shift in the GAMSAT exam away from content-based MCQs towards MCQs designed to test your reasoning skills with a greater emphasis on graphs, diagrams and mathematical relationships.

In this sense, the GAMSAT ® Exam is entirely different to a typical university assessment and as such, your preparation also needs to adapt accordingly.

Since problem-based learning techniques are central to modern medical curricula, GAMSAT ® is constructed with a major focus on the assessment of problem solving ability across a wide range of subject areas.

ACER (Structure and Content)

A common error is for students to prepare for the GAMSAT ® Exam as though it were a knowledge-based one. Although understanding the foundational content is absolutely key to your success, the greater focus must lie in learning to apply that knowledge, using it in a problem-solving setting, and ultimately developing your reasoning skills to equip you to properly handle novel content - i.e. Problem Based Learning (you can learn more here ). ACER states:

The purpose of GAMSAT ® is to assess the ability to understand and analyse written and graphically presented material. GAMSAT ® measures … the ability to reason, make logical deductions and form judgments…. some specific preparation covering relevant basic sciences to first year university level is highly recommended.

ACER (Prepare)

It must be stressed that success in GAMSAT ® is unlikely without knowledge and ability in the biological and physical sciences.

ACER (Eligibility)

That’s why our GradReady GAMSAT ® Preparation Courses focus on first building the foundational content before honing in on how to best apply that knowledge in the reasoning and problem solving environment of the GAMSAT ® Exam. We focus on Problem Based Learning, all whilst letting you familiarise yourself with the question formats and helping you build up MCQ strategies.

Sign up for our GAMSAT Free Trial today which includes 50 MCQs from our Intelligent MCQ Bank, access to our week-by-week study guide for each section, and a wealth of our GAMSAT resources:

Which Universities require the GAMSAT Exam?

There are currently 14 Medical Schools that provide a Graduate Entry Medical Program, 13 of which require the GAMSAT ® exam.

Of these 13, 10 are members of the GAMSAT ® Consortium and their medical courses are participants in GEMSAS (Graduate Entry Medical Schools Admissions System) . GEMSAS acts as a single hub for applications to the 10 medical schools that make up its members. It manages applications, calculates grade point averages (GPAs) and applies individual school selection rules to allocate and organise interview and course offers to candidates around Australia. For more details, you can visit their website and review the most up to date Admissions Guide.

Three Medical Schools, the University of Sydney and Flinders University and the University of Tasmania are not part of GEMSAS, but still require the GAMSAT ® exam as well as separate, direct applications.

Medical Schools that require the GAMSAT ® exam include:

South Australia

In addition, the GAMSAT ® is required for the following courses:

University of Sydney:

University of Western Australia:

Monash University is the final Medical School to provide a Graduate Entry Medical Program. However, the GAMSAT ® Exam was removed as an admissions criteria in 2017, and is no longer required. Note however that domestic applicants for the Graduate Entry Medical Program at Monash University must have completed one of the approved bachelor degrees at Monash University - that is to say that external domestic applicants are no longer accepted.

For more details on the Monash University Medical School, you can visit their website.

To learn more about the different Graduate Entry Medical Schools in Australia and their different admission requirements, visit our guide: Australian Medical Schools: Entry Requirements.

GAMSAT Preparation Materials

Now that you’ve got some background on the GAMSAT ® Exam, visit some of our other free resources to learn more:

  1. GAMSAT ® 2024

    Everything you need to know about the GAMSAT ® Exams in 2024 from registration dates to locations.

  2. How to study for the GAMSAT ® Exam

    A breakdown of how to approach study effectively and how to set up a GAMSAT ® study schedule

  3. Understanding your GAMSAT ® Results

    Covers everything you need to know about your GAMSAT ® Results - How the scoring works, result release dates and even GAMSAT ® score cutoffs.

  4. GAMSAT ® Non-Science Background: How to Prepare

    A breakdown of how to approach GAMSAT ® study effectively if you come from a non-science background.

  5. In addition, you can read this 10 year retrospective overview of the GAMSAT ® Exam which includes a breakdown of candidates’ performance: GAMSAT ® Exam - Retrospective Review

GradReady GAMSAT Preparation Courses

At GradReady, we pride ourselves on providing students with the Best Value:

  • Our team is consistently reinvesting in our internal operational technology to ensure that we're constantly improving our efficiency and productivity. The end result for our students is that we stand head and shoulders above our competition in the comprehensiveness of the tools we offer and the effectiveness of our teachings - all at the best value.
  • We believe in a data-driven approach - using student performance data to fine tune our practice questions, study content and teaching styles has allowed us to achieve unparalleled results for our students.
  • We are the only provider with Statistically Significant Proven Results - Our students achieved an average improvement of 20+ Percentile Points, 10+ years in a row.
  • We achieve these results through our interactive teaching style and adaptive online learning technologies. Our classes are capped at 21 students, and taught by a specialist tutor for each subject, tutors who are themselves Medical Students who have sat the GAMSAT ®.
  • Our online systems make learning into a science and we are the only provider with a proprietary online system that uses algorithmic-assisted, targeted learning - Unlike other providers who purchase a 3rd Party System, the targeted system that we've developed tracks your performance, quickly identifying your weaknesses and pointing you to the most relevant materials and even tutor assistance.

To learn more about our courses and compare us to the competition visit: GradReady GAMSAT ® Preparation Courses