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What is the GAMSAT
(Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test)

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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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding social distancing programs that have been implemented worldwide, the information on this page may not always be up-to-date. It is highly recommended that you check the ACER website for the most accurate information.

  1. 2020-2021 Changes to the GAMSAT ® Exam
  2. GAMSAT ® Exam Structure
  3. GAMSAT ® Exam Day Overview
  4. GAMSAT ® Exam - Theory vs Problem Based Learning
  5. Which Universities require the GAMSAT ® Exam?
  6. GAMSAT ® Preparation Materials

2020-2021 Changes to the GAMSAT Exam

We have witnessed unprecedented changes to the GAMSAT ® Exam 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.

Current GAMSAT Exam Structure

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
Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities 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. Reading Time 47 MCQs 6 Minutes 64 Minutes
Section 2: Written Communication Tests your general knowledge and ability to draw on prior knowledge under pressure to construct a cohesive argument or reflection. Reading Time Writing Time 5 Minutes 60 Minutes
Lunch Take a well deserved break! Consider bringing your own lunch as the break has now been shortened from 1 hour to 30 minutes and purchasing food is not always an option - 30 Minutes
Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences 40% Biology, 40% Chemistry, 20% Physics Reading Time 75 MCQs 8 Minutes 142 Minutes

ACER has now also released their 2021 GAMSAT ® Information Booklet with details on the format of the exam.

Moving forward, the GAMSAT ® exam will be delivered as 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. Quotes rht

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 candidats 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 moving forward will be identical to that used for the September 2020 GAMSAT ® exam and is outlined in the table above. This format is shorter than the previous paper exam, with fewer questions for Section 1 & 3. There will also be a 30 min break between Section 2 and 3. Although the total testing time is 4.45 hours, ACER recommends that students should anticipate being at the test centre for 6 hours.

When sitting the GAMSAT ® Exam, students are allowed 2 pieces of paper per session; i.e. 2 sheets for Section 1 & 2 and 2 sheets for Section 3. In regards to other equipment allowed during the exam, this is comprehensively covered in pages 11-13 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
Total time for Section (reading and writing time will be incorporated) 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.

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.

GAMSAT Exam Structure

GAMSAT Exam ®

(Graduate Medical School Admissions Test)

  • Section 1:

    Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Section 2:

    Written Communication

  • Section 3:

    Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

The GAMSAT ® Exam is made up of three sections:

  1. Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

    47 MCQs, 70 Mins (including 6 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 Section 1 Guide to learn more on how to prepare.

  2. Section 2: Written Communication

    2 Written Responses, 65 Mins (including 5 mins reading time)

    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 Section 2 Guide to learn more on how to prepare.

  3. Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

    75 MCQs, 150 Mins (including 8 mins reading time)

    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:

    • Biology - 40%
    • Chemistry - 40%
    • Physics - 20%

    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.

Download our GAMSAT ® Study Syllabus for a full list of Section 3 topics as well as tips and advice for Section 1 and 2:

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

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
Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities 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. Reading Time 47 MCQs 6 Minutes 64 Minutes
Section 2: Written Communication Tests your general knowledge and ability to draw on prior knowledge under pressure to construct a cohesive argument or reflection Reading Time Writing Time 5 Minutes 65 Minutes
Lunch Take a well deserved break! Consider bringing your own lunch as the break has now been shortened from 1 hour to 30 minutes and purchasing food is not always an option - 30 Minutes
Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Science 40% Biology, 40% Chemistry, 20% Physics Reading Time 75 MCQs 8 Minutes 142 Minutes

Although the total test time is itself around a ‘measly’ 4.45 hours, ACER recommends that you be prepared to spend at least 6 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 2021:
GAMSAT ® 2021 - 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 Section 3 . 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. Quotes rht

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. Quotes rht

ACER (Prepare)

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

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:

Get Access to:
  • 50 Free MCQs
  • Week-By-Week Study Guide
  • Complete Session 3 Topic List
  • Recorded Webinars
Free trial

Which Universities require the GAMSAT Exam?

As of 2021, there are currently 13 Medical Schools that provide a Graduate Entry Medical Program, 12 of which require the GAMSAT ® exam.

Of these 12, 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.

Two Medical Schools, the University of Sydney and Flinders University, 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 ® 2021

    Everything you need to know about the GAMSAT ® Exams in 2021 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. Get Access to:
    • 50 Free MCQs
    • Week-By-Week Study Guide
    • Complete Session 3 Topic List
    • Recorded Webinars
    Free trial

    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, 7 years in a row, with an average improvement of 25 Percentile Points for the May 2020 GAMSAT ® exam.
  • 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