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GAMSAT An overview

The Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test was introduced to the UK by St George`s Hospital Medical School in 1999, and is now also used by Nottingham, Swansea, Cardiff, Liverpool, Exeter and Plymouth medical schools. Graduates applying to five year courses at the two latter schools are required to sit GAMSAT. Plymouth is unique as it offered the UK’s first graduate entry programme for dentistry, for which GAMSAT is part of the admissions criteria. The test was initially pioneered and used in Australia in 1996 by four medical schools offering graduate entry programmes. The role of GAMSAT is to assist in the selection criteria primarily for students who are applying to study medicine on the new fast-track graduate entry programmes.

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Standardised Testing and Problem Based Learning

GAMSAT draws upon a wide ranging skill set and subject knowledge, naturally aligns it to the problem-based learning environment in most medical schools. Whilst GAMSAT is predominantly multiple choice based, it places great emphasis on reasoning ability and critical thinking. It effectively gives a 360 degree overview of your ability to master information adeptly and select relevant responses within a limited time frame. It actively encourages a lateral thinking approach, thinking 'outside of the box'. After all, the study and practice of medicine demands the ability to sift through, interpret and make swift judgements from ever increasing quantities of information and data.

GAMSAT Structure and Release Dates

The GAMSAT results are normally released in Mid May for the March (Ireland) siting and mid November for the September (UK) sitting. In 2016 the release dates were May 12th and November 10th.

The test is divided into three sections: 

Section Section Title Content Description
 I Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences   75 Questions(multiple choice) - 100 minutes  This section tests skills in understanding and interpreting ideas in social and cultural contexts. Most of the source material will be in the form of written passages, but some units will utilise visual images and tables of data.
 II Written Communication   2 Essays - 60 minutes This section assesses your ability to develop and produce ideas in writing. The task A essay is more analytical in style and focused on socio-cultural issues. Task B deals with issues of a more personal nature. 
 III Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences  110 Questions(multiple choice) - 170 minutes  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. 



The overall score is achieved as follows: 

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

GAMSAT scores are valid for two years. So results from September 2016 are valid for applications for 2017 and 2018 entrance. 

It is worth remembering that 10 of the questions on your paper will not be marked and are trialed on each year. This means that your actual mark will be calculated from the 100 scored questions on the paper. The reason ACER do this is to allow new question sets to be calibrated in terms of difficulty. It does of course mean that they may appear again in later years.

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Preparing for GAMSAT

Traditionally we are used to working towards exams with a detailed syllabus to guide us.  We know what to expect and usually have lots of past papers to work through, so the element of surprise is minimal.  Preparing for GAMSAT is far more challenging.  In terms of the sciences, the level of Biology and Chemistry knowledge equates to first-year undergraduate level, whilst Physics is A-level (or equivalent) standard.  For those coming from a non-science background this can be daunting, and for those with a science background knowing what to cover and to what depth can be equally challenging.
There are four booklets of practice and sample questions that are produced by the examination board, ACER. These are the only materials they issue which provide some exposure to the style of questions encountered on the examination. Trying to learn undergraduate level Biology and Chemistry, and A level Physics, in a short time is an impossible task. The key is to understand what ACER are looking for in potential medical students, and know how to approach the relevant areas. Our task is to provide you with the knowledge and the application of topics, which will be of use not just for GAMSAT, but at medical school and beyond.   It is not uncommon for our students to tell us they still use the notes, as echoed in the anecdote given by one of our tutors, James Foster, in the Gradmed video.  This is where our fourteen years of experience comes to the fore.   

Time restraints and knowing where to begin, what to cover and the depth required mean that for many a course is the most effective solution.  It is also important to remember that GAMSAT is a test of three parts and only one section is science based.  Sections I and II do not have a defined content in terms of knowledge, but it is still possible and important to prepare for both. Our courses teach all of the core skills expected in section I and develop extensive essay writing skills for the two comparative essay types in section II. 

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Key Dates

The GAMSAT examination takes place twice yearly – March and September - in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Scores obtained in each sitting are equitable due to the standardised nature of the examination and results have a validity of two years. To keep up to date with current dates, as they are set by ACER, please follow our current news on the homepage, or sign up and follow us on twitter or facebook.

The next sittings will be Saturday 25th March 2017 and Wednesday 13th September 2017

Wednesday 13 September 2017
Wednesday 13 September 2017
Wednesday 13 September 2017