The Graduate Medical School Admission Test, or GAMSAT, is used to select candidates for admission to a Graduate Entry Program to study dentistry, medicine, optometry, veterinary science and pharmacy in the UK, Australia and Ireland. Over ten thousand people sit the test every year. GAMSAT evaluates general skills, critical thinking, problem-solving and basic science concepts applied to real life situations. Reasoning rather than knowledge is key to success. Candidates do not have to have gained their first degree in a science, nevertheless, you are unlikely to do well in the test if you do not have a solid grasp of biological and physical sciences.
Is GAMSAT part of the standard admission process?
The test is separate from the normal admission processes in these countries, and registration is processed through the ACER portal, rather than the CAO (Ireland) or UCAS (UK). GAMSAT tests are run twice a year, in March and September, so you need to make sure that you organise your timetable correctly. For example, if you wish to start studying medicine in September 2024, in the UK, you will need to sit the GAMSAT in March or September 2023, then submit your UCAS application by 15 October 2023, log into ACER by 31 October, tick the UK box after adding your UCAS ID, and state where you are applying, so that your results can be forwarded to the universities in question.
If you are applying to an Irish university, make sure that when you register for the GAMSAT you have ticked the Ireland box and provided your CAO number.
Where can you sit the GAMSAT?
There are many exam centres throughout Australia. GAMSAT is also available in Singapore and New Zealand.
In the USA you can only sit the test in Washington DC.
Also in Ireland, test centres are in Cork, Sligo, Dublin and Limerick and offer both the March and September exams.
In the UK you can sit the March GAMSAT in London, Bristol, Londonderry, Leeds and Liverpool.
The September UK test centres are: Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Plymouth, Sheffield and Sunderland.
If there is no GAMSAT test centre within three hours of where you live, or in your own country, it is possible to apply for a remote proctoring sitting. You need to do that by 30 January and, for your request to be considered, you have to supply proof of address.
Which universities in Europe and the UK offer Graduate Entry programs via the GAMSAT?
- Nottingham University
- Plymouth University
- Exeter University
- Swansea University
- St George’s,
- St Andrews University
- Dundee University
- Highlands and Islands University
- Liverpool University
- Keele University
- Cardiff University
- Jagiellonian University
- Poznan University
In addition, you can apply for graduate entry programs in medical fields at 11 universities in Australia.
The GAMSAT test – contents
The GAMSAT test consists of three papers.
1.Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences: 62 questions/100 minutes
2.Written Communication: 2 essays/65 minutes
3.Reasoning in biological and physical sciences:75 questions/ 150 minutes
Note: five minutes of each allocated time is set aside for reading the questions. You need to estimate putting aside eight hours for the GAMSAT, since there is a one hour break between section 2 and 3 and the actual writing time is over five hours, as you can see, above. It will be a long and tiring day.
Papers 1 and 3 are multiple choice. There is no marks deduction if you give the wrong answer, and it is essential to work quickly and methodically and not leave blanks. Don’t leave any blanks.
You will receive a number of passages to read and then have to choose from various options in a drop-down menu. The passages may come from poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, or you may be get cartoons, diagrams and tables.
The information in the texts can be used to ask about: the attitude it reflects, tone and mood, what you can infer from what you have read, implications and what might weaken the argument, or which option summarises what the author is saying most closely. Past subjects have included excerpts from historical political writers, articles on multi-lingualism in the EU, geometric analogies and passages from a poem.
You have to write two essays in response to a quotation. The aim of this section is to discover how well you communicate ideas and arguments, demonstrate your logical reasoning skills, show empathy and know how to build a strong case and present it well. If you wish to write a story to illustrate your points, this is also perfectly acceptable.
There are two main themes/stimuli.
Task A tends to focus on socio-cultural issues and its quotations relate to themes such as :
Task B is more personal, and the quotes relate to themes such as :
To do well in the essay papers, you need to:
- Vary the length of the sentences you use
- Present evidence and analogies
- Use metaphors appropriately
- Avoid over-using rhetorical questions
- Refer to actual events or personal experiences
- Integrate your ideas
- Make sure you organise your work so that it is fluent, well-structured and uses a range of vocabulary
- Remember that you are marked on: thought and content, and organisation an expression
- Proofread your finished essay carefully
While there is no mandatory word length, aim for 500-600 words. Leave enough time to read back what you have written and correct your prose, if necessary.
Examples of the kind of quotes you may encounter in the GAMSAT include: “The road to hell is littered with good intentions”, “Youth is wasted on the young” or “Beauty captures attention, and personality captures the heart”.
Do not underestimate the importance of keeping to the time limits.
Use your scrap paper to sketch out a plan of action, divide your ideas into paragraphs and start writing – 30 minutes will speed by, and you do not want to hand it an incomplete essay.
This multiple choice section deals with biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics.
You will receive graphs and diagrams and have to reach conclusions on the basis of the information provided. The aim of this part of the GAMSAT is to test whether you know the core principles of science and how to use them in specific areas.
20 per cent of the section is devoted to physics, and 40 per cent, each, to biology and chemistry. The physics level of questions reflects what you should know at the end of secondary school, whereas the other two subjects are comparable to first year undergraduate studies.
It is worthwhile to revise cell and molecular biology, genetics and physiology and the body’s systems (respiratory, endocrine etc)for the biology section; stoichiometry, atomic structure, electrons, redox reactions and acids and bases for chemistry; and motion and gravity, equilibrium, fluids and solids, electricity and atomic and nuclear structure for the physics section.
To get a flavour of the types of questions you will be facing, you should have a look at the sample questions and papers widely available on the internet. Remember that the physics questions aim at a lower level than the biology and chemistry questions. You will need to draw upon your mathematical skills in certain questions, so it is wise to revise statistics, probability and algebra, if you feel rusty in those areas.
Marking and results
The GAMSAT score varies from one cohort of applicants to another, but the calculattions report that 59 is the average mark for each section, and so to do well, you should aim for 70. GAMSAT combines your marks from each section and converts them, by using marking response theory, into a percentile ranking.
Results are normally appear two months after the test dates and are now valid for four years – previously it was two.
How to apply to sit the GAMSAT
Register online for an account through the ACER website.
Choose the date and test centre.
Two to three weeks before the GAMSAT, you will receive an admission ticket through your account. You must print this, since you cannot simply present a screenshot of an email at the test centre.
Registration deadlines depend on when you are sitting the GAMSAT.
If you have registered for the March test, you must register from November-end January. If you have registered for the September test, you can register from May to mid-July.
Costs: 518 Australian dollars (approximately 332 euros)
Additional 205 Australian dollars if you are registering from outside Australia (129 euros).
Late fees: if you register past the end January deadline but before 10 February, you will pay an extra 105 Australian dollars ( 67 euros); and the same charge applies if you register for the September test after mid-July, but by 21 July.
GAMSAT test day – what to expect
- Bring your admission ticket and ID with you.
- You will get with two sheets of scrap paper per section of the test. You will have to hand them in to the supervisor on finishing. If you prefer a whiteboard, this has to be 25×30 cm in size and must be wiped clean and shown to the supervisor. You may bring a whiteboard marker with you.
- A bottle of clear drinking water may be taken into the exam, without any label.
- The only watch you can wear must be analogue.
- Non-native speakers can take in a bilingual dictionary, which will be checked prior to the test.
- Take soft HB pencils, an eraser and a sharpener with you, but remember that coloured pencils, highlighters, pens, pencil cases and notebooks are banned.
- There is no guarantee that the test centre will be near any food outlets, so make sure you bring anything you might want to eat with you.
- You can not bring mobiles or smart watches to the test centre.
- You cannot use a calculator in the GAMSAT.
There is no limit to the number of times you can sit the GAMSAT.
How to prepare for the GAMSAT
Read widely across many subjects.
Go online and practise timed tests .
Try to write two essays in 60 minutes – several times.
Buy past papers from ACER and work through them, so you familiarise yourself with the type of questions you will face and how quickly you need to respond.
Brush up on any weak areas you identify in Section 3.
Do not panic.
Start planning a revision timetable and stick to it. Past applicants say that you should set aside 3 hours a day over three to six months for GAMSAT preparation.
The GAMSAT opens the door to graduate entry programs in medicine and the health professions, and is a valuable, important step along your career path. If you have any questions then do not hesitate to contact our experienced consultants, here at Elab, who will give you the information and guidance you need. We are here to help, so drop us an email or telephone .
Get organised. Open those books. Prepare to succeed.