This guide aims to equip you with some information and understanding about the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test, i.e. GAMSAT, an entrance exam option for graduate students* wishing to study Medicine.
*typically graduate students, but NOT limited to – see below under ‘Which universities accept the GAMSAT?’.
Just a note – I personally did NOT sit the GAMSAT. Therefore, the information I provide here originates from my own research about the exam, but sadly not my personal experience from sitting the exam. I have however included insight provided by some of my graduate Medicine colleagues (former Biomedical Sciences students) who did sit the exam.
Graduate students wishing to study Medicine in the UK have the option of sitting the BMAT, UCAT and/or the GAMSAT.
Which entrance exam(s) you will decide to sit will depend on some important factors, arguably the main ones including 1. Which universities you would like to apply to, 2. Whether you would like to apply to undergraduate or graduate Medicine courses (see our article ‘Deciding on a UK Medical School: Tips & Techniques for Graduate Entrants’ for more information on this) and 3. How much time you are able and willing to commit to studying for and sitting entrance exams, alongside other current commitments (such as undergraduate final year studying and/or job commitments etc.).
I was advised to sit two entrance exams if possible, aligning with the universities that I wished to apply to so that I had a wider choice of universities to apply to. Ultimately the decisions regarding which and how many entrance exams to sit are yours; everyone is individual and will know their strengths and the time that they can dedicate to the entrance exams. If, for example, you are attracted mainly to universities requiring the UCAT and achieve a strong UCAT score, you may wish to sit simply the UCAT. Alternatively, if you would like to apply to a range of universities requiring you to sit the three different entrance exams, this is also possible. The only thing I would say, and something I was advised, is to bear in mind other commitments you have at the time (such as with regards to your university final year), that may impact your ability to excel in the entrance exam(s) and Medicine application process as a whole. Entrance exams can consume a considerable amount of time, energy, and expense – preparing, revising, sitting the exams etc. all require time. Perhaps you may choose to focus on achieving a great score in one or two entrance exams, which are required by universities of your choice, rather than trying to complete all three and risking burning out or not performing to the best of your ability.
The GAMSAT was created by the Australian Council for Education Research and is used in Australia, Ireland, and the UK to assess medical student applicants. The aims of the exam, as stated by the official website, are to “evaluate the nature and extent of abilities and skills gained through prior experience and learning, including the mastery and use of concepts in basic science as well as the acquisition of more general skills in problem solving, critical thinking and writing”.
Similar to how the BMAT and UCAT exams are used in Medicine applications, the GAMSAT aids medical schools in the selection process of their students. The GAMSAT, like other entrance exams, is unlikely to form the entire application weighting; medical schools often consider a range of factors, including academic achievements, personal statements, work experience, extra-curricular activities and so on.
Not all medical schools or all graduate courses use the GAMSAT to assess their applicants. The entrance exams may also be subject to change so please make sure to double-check this before planning which entrance exam(s) to take. The following universities are the current (2021-2022 application year) UK medical schools that ask for the GAMSAT to be sat as part of their application process for graduate courses (NOT their undergraduate courses*).
*Although the GAMSAT includes ‘Graduate’ in its name, some medical schools such as University of Exeter and University of Plymouth, require additional applicant ‘cohorts’ to sit the GAMSAT as part of their application process. For example, applicants who completed their A-Levels more than two years prior to their Medicine application. Please see the following link for further information about medical schools using the GAMSAT as part of their entry requirements: https://www.gamsat.co.uk/medical-schools-uk#:~:text=It%20is%20possible%20to%20sit,%2C%20Edinburgh%2C%20Sheffield%20and%20Derry.
The following link also takes you to The Medic Portal website which highlights further entrance requirements for graduate Medicine courses in the UK: https://www.themedicportal.com/application-guide/graduate-entry-medicine/.
Note – graduate students can apply to graduate Medicine courses and/or undergraduate Medicine courses. However, undergraduate Medicine courses will not commonly require the GAMSAT to be sat by their applicants* (there can be exceptions, as outlined above). So, if for example, you apply to the same university but both to the graduate AND the undergraduate courses – the GAMSAT may only be used to assess selection to study on the graduate course.
The GAMSAT consists of three sections – Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences, Written Communication and Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences – and there are 4 and a half hours in total of ‘exam time’. The exam is said to be a ‘day exam’, as the start and end times may be flexible, therefore considering the exam to be 6 hours long at least is appropriate.
There is ‘reading time’ before each section to allow you some time to prepare and then allocated ‘writing time’ dedicated to completing the section. Below is a table from the official GAMSAT website showing the breakdown of timings and questions in each of the three test sections.
Briefly… each section is different and challenges the applicant in different aspects. Section I includes questions that test critical analysis, logic, and attention to detail for example. Section II contains two sections (A and B), both asking you to write a different essay, in slightly different styles. Finally, Section III tests scientific knowledge with questions relating to Biology, General and Organic Chemistry, Physics and Maths for Science.
Some general useful-to-know information with regards to sitting the GAMSAT. See also the table below from the official GAMSAT website which summarises this information and highlights specific dates for 2021 Medicine applicants.
The GAMSAT is available to sit twice a year, usually in March and September.
You can sit the GAMSAT at a selection of test sites in the UK. There is a greater range of cities in which to take the GAMSAT for September test-takers compared to March test-takers. The following link highlights the UK test centres offering GAMSAT sittings in March and September: https://gamsat.acer.org/register/test-centres.
You can register to sit your test via the official GAMSAT site https://gamsat.acer.org/. Make sure to confirm the registration dates and when they open each year; usually this is in November for September test-takers and the following May for September test-takers.
The cost of the GAMSAT in the UK is £268 per sitting, for either March or September (they are both the same price).
In short – yes you can resit the GAMSAT. There is no limit to the number of times that you can re-take the GAMSAT overall. Furthermore, you may re-take the exam and choose to apply with your best score. The universities you apply to will not be able to see your entire complement of results if you did resit the exam. However, exam results remain valid for two years (note – two years to the year in which the Medicine course begins, not the year in which you apply). Therefore, if your application round lies outside of the two-year window, you will have to re-take the GAMAST to fulfil the current application round.
Exam results are released in May following March sittings and in November following September sittings.
There are many online resources available to assist with preparation for this exam. I would suggest to – check for accreditable sources, plan your revision well and realistically around your current commitments (university, work and/or other), and reach out to any individuals that you know have sat the exam to ask for their insight.
Here are some useful links about GAMSAT information, revision and booking your test:
The official GAMSAT site, if you wish to take a further look, prepare for the test and/or book your test sitting.https://gamsat.acer.org/
GAMSAT information booklet from the official GAMSAT site, for the 2021 test year. https://gamsat.acer.org/files/GAMSAT_Info_Booklet_2021.pdf
Wide range of and extensive information and resources about the GAMSAT, perhaps more specific to UK applicants.https://www.gamsat.co.uk/
The Medic Portal provides a comprehensive guide to understanding and sitting the GAMSAT.https://www.themedicportal.com/application-guide/graduate-entry-medicine/gamsat/
Make sure to also check websites and information provided by the universities you are applying to: double-check which ones require the GAMSAT, details about how they may use the GAMSAT as part of their selection process and, as with Exeter and Plymouth Universities, whether other applicants, NOT limited to graduates, are required to take the GAMSAT.
Author: Carolina Williams
Editor: Allegra Wisking