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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 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 Changes to the GAMSAT ® Exam

This year, 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 different forms of digital delivery. As these restrictions have changed, so too has the format of the GAMSAT ® Exam this year.

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

The structure of the May Online GAMSAT ® Exam was different to previous sittings, as outlined in the table above. To see how this differs from usual, you can read the information about the historic GAMSAT ® Exam Structure in previous years below. To reiterate what remained the same, Section 2 was still 2 x 30-minute writing tasks with 5 minutes’ reading time incorporated into the total Section time, and Section 3 was still divided in the following proportions: 40% Chemistry, 40% Biology, 20% Physics.

Interestingly for the May Online GAMSAT ® Exam, Section 1 & 2 was conducted in a different session from Section 3. Students would sit Section 1 & 2 on a particular day and Section 3 roughly a week later. When sitting the May Online GAMSAT ® Exam, students were allowed 2 pieces of paper per Section, which must be shown to the proctor at the start and end of each Section.

September 2020 GAMSAT ® Exam Structure

Description Breakdown Duration
Registration Pre-testing procedures should be faster for the September 2020 GAMSAT® Exam 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 MCQ 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

Registrations for the September 2020 GAMSAT ® exam are now open. It’s highly recommended that any student intending to sit this exam review the GAMSAT ® Information Booklet.

This exam will be delivered as a digital test at multiple venues in GAMSAT ® test centre locations over the period 28 September to 11 October 2020.

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, their test will have to be delivered through a remote proctoring service. It’s recommended that students familiarise themselves with the GAMSAT ® Online FAQs relating to remote proctoring to ensure that they’re prepared for this possibility.

The structure of the September 2020 GAMSAT ® exam is different again and outlined in the table above. It will include slightly more questions compared to the May Online sitting but again differs from the historic format of previous years. A notable change from the May Online sitting is the reintroduction of reading time. 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 September 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 12 and 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.

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

(Note that the information below refers to the previous paper format of the exam and has been retained for reference purposes - Refer to the above details on 2020 Changes for more up-to-date information.)

The GAMSAT ® Exam is made up of three sections:

  1. Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

    75 MCQs, 110 Mins (including 10 mins reading time)

    This section is multiple choice 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 Essays, 65 Mins (including 5 mins reading time)

    The only written section of the GAMSAT ® Exam. This section involves two 30-minute writing tasks. For each essay 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 essays are usually differentiated on the basis of their focus - The first essay 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

    110 MCQs, 180 Mins (including 10 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 You are usually asked to report to your test centre by 8:15am for registration and pre-test procedures: This can take a significant amount of time at larger testing centres - ~ 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 75 MCQ 10 Minutes 100 Minutes
Section 2: Written Communication The only written section of the exam. 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 purchasing food is not always an option - 60 Minutes
Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Science 40% Biology, 40% Chemistry, 20% Physics Reading Time 110 MCQS 10 Minutes 170 Minutes

(Note that the information below refers to the previous paper format of the exam and has been retained for reference purposes - Refer to the above details on 2020 Changes for more up-to-date information.)

Although the total test time is itself around a ‘measly’ 6 hours, ACER recommends that you be prepared to spend at least 9 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 2020:
GAMSAT ® 2020 - 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 2020, 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 nine 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 ® 2020

    Everything you need to know about the GAMSAT ® Exams in 2020 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

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