The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is the admission test required by some graduate medical school programmes to assist in the selection of students to participate in graduate-entry medical programs in Australia, Ireland and the UK.
The GAMSAT test draws on a wide ranging number of skills and subject knowledge naturally aligned to problem-based learning in most medical programmes. It tests basic science concepts as well as general skills in problem solving, critical thinking and writing. If your degree is in a non-scientific field of study you can still sit the GAMSAT test and succeed – a science degree is not always a requirement for graduate medicine, in fact some universities encourage applications from candidates who have achieved academic excellence in other fields. However, I do seriously recommend taking time to learn core scientific concepts in biological and physical sciences.
GAMSAT Structure & Content
The GAMSAT is a paper-based test split into three separately timed sections designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking and writing. The following table shows the structure of GAMSAT by section and time.
|Number of questions||Reading Time||Writing Time|
Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences
|75||10 mins||100 mins|
|2||5 mins||60 mins|
Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences
|110||10 mins||170 mins|
GAMSAT Section I: This section is referred to as the Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences section and it tests candidates interpretation and understanding of ideas in social and cultural contexts. The examiners can use different kinds of text as a stimuli, including passages of personal, imaginative, expository and argumentative writing.
What to Expect:
Questions in this section are in multiple choice format, with a majority of the questions in the form of written passages, the examiners also adopt information in visual or tubular form covering a range of academic topics and present public issues. Questions also demand varying degree of processing and conceptual thinking. You can expect to tested on the following skills :
- Ability to recognise explicit and implicit meanings through close reading of words and phrases and global interpretations of text.
- Ability to interrelating, elaborating and extending concepts and ideas, and drawing conclusions.
- Ability to make discriminations and judgments in the realm of plausible reasoning.
GAMSAT Section II: This section is referred to as the Written Communication section and it tests a candidate’s writing skills and ability to produce and develop ideas under pressure.
What to Expect:
Candidates are required to write two thirty-minute essays. You must pick a task from two separate themes, each task offers a number of ideas related to a common theme. The theme will be general rather than specific in nature. The first task usually deals with socio-cultural issues while the second deals with more personal and social issues. It is important to note that examiners will assess you on two criterias:the quality of the thinking about a topic and the control of language demonstrated in its development. Assessment focuses on the way in which ideas are integrated into a thoughtful response to the task. Control of language (grammatical structure and expression) is an integral component of a good piece of writing. However, it is only assessed insofar as it contributes to the overall effectiveness of the response to the task and not in isolation. Candidates are not assessed on the ‘correctness’ of the ideas or attitudes they display. However pre-prepared responses and responses that do not relate to the topic will receive a low score.
GAMSAT Section III:This section is referred to as the Reasoning in Biological and Physical science section and it tests candidates interpretation and understanding of ideas in social and cultural contexts. The examiners can use different kinds of text including passages of personal, imaginative, expository and argumentative writing.
What to Expect:
This section is made up of questions from the scientific disciplines in the following proportions – Biology (40%), Chemistry (40%), Physics (20%). The level of scientific knowledge generally equates to first-year undergraduate level in Biology and Chemistry, and A level (or equivalent) for Physics. Questions are based on passages, tables and/or graphical displays of data. They measure problem solving ability within scientific scenarios, to offer hypotheses, extrapolate reasoned conclusions and identify connections between given variables.
GAMSAT Scoring & Assessment
Your GAMSAT test score is valid for two years. For example, exam results from September 2016 are valid for applications for 2017 and 2018 entrance.
The overall score is achieved as follows:
Overall Score = (1 x Section I + 1 x Section II + 2 x Section III) / 4
Please note that 10 of the questions on your paper will not be marked and are trialled on each year. This means that your actual mark will be calculated from the 100 scored questions on the paper.