How to Prepare for the GAMSAT

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is an admissions exam used by a handful of UK universities to assess students’ suitability for graduate-entry Medicine and Dentistry degree courses. How you perform in the GAMSAT will impact which universities may offer you a place, so it’s important that you know how to prepare.

This easy guide walks you through all of the key information you need to know and how to go about preparing for the GAMSAT. Our GAMSAT experts have helped students get into top graduate medical schools, including Swansea, Keele, Liverpool and Nottingham; if you’re in need of additional support with your Medicine application, reach out to our team today.

What is GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) is a medical admissions test used by a handful of UK universities to assess graduates’ suitability for medical degree courses.

Which UK universities require GAMSAT?

Not all UK universities list the GAMSAT as an entry requirement for graduate-entry Medicine, however there are several that do require it. Some of these universities require the GAMSAT from all applicants, while others only require it from certain applicants, such as existing healthcare professionals without a biomedical science or healthcare degree. Always check entry requirements directly with your chosen university before applying.

University Course (graduate-entry)
Cardiff University Medicine
University of East Anglia Medicine
University of Exeter Medicine
University of Keele Medicine
University of Liverpool Medicine
University of Nottingham Medicine
University of Plymouth Medicine
Dentistry
Universities of St Andrews and Dundee in partnership with University of the Highlands and Islands (ScotGEM) Medicine
St George’s, University of London Medicine
University of Sunderland Medicine
Swansea University Medicine
Ulster University Medicine
University of Worcester Medicine

When is the GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT takes place twice a year, in March and September. Registration for the March sitting opens in November and typically closes in January, while registration for the September sitting opens in May and typically closes in July.

Where do you take GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT is taken in-person in a local test centre. Different test centres operate the GAMSAT at different times of the year, so you may have to take the test in either March or September depending on which centre you can travel to. The following UK test centres usually administer the GAMSAT in March:

  • Bristol
  • Derry/Londonderry (NI)
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • London

The following UK test centres usually administer the GAMSAT in September:

  • Birmingham
  • Cardiff
  • Derry/Londonderry (NI)
  • Edinburgh
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Hounslow
  • Norwich
  • Plymouth
  • Sheffield
  • Sunderland

Registration for the GAMSAT exam takes place directly with ACER, the organisation that administers the GAMSAT. You can register for the exam on the ACER website. Make sure to check which test you are registering for (i.e. the September or March sitting) and make a note of any important dates and deadlines.

How much does GAMSAT cost?

The standard GAMSAT registration fee in the UK is £271 (€344 in Ireland). There are also fees for other services, such as late registration (£65) and additional practice tests (£28 each). Always check fee information with your local test centre to avoid any unforeseen costs.

What is included in the GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT is divided into three sections: Section I (Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences), Section II (Written Communication), and Section III (Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences). Each of these sections has different timings, questions, and assessment focus.

Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences

This section tests your understanding of social and cultural ideas and contexts. You will encounter different kinds of texts, such as passages of personal, imaginative, expository and argumentative writing, covering a range of academic and public issues. You will then be asked multiple-choice questions about the contents of those texts, with four possible answers in each question for you to choose from. There are 62 questions in total and you will have just over an hour and a half to complete as many answers as you can.

Section 2: Written Communication

This section assesses your ability to produce and develop ideas in written English. It involves two 30-minute writing tasks, each of which offers ideas relating to a common, general theme. The first task tackles socio-cultural issues while the second tackles more personal and social issues. You will be assessed on what you make of the task, your ability to express your thoughts and feelings in response to the task, the shape and form of your answer, and the effectiveness and fluency of your language use.

Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

This section involves answering a range of subject-specific questions relating to Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The three subjects are not equally distributed across the questions: around 40% are Chemistry, 40% are Biology, and 20% are Physics. All questions are multiple-choice, with four answer options to choose from in each question. You will encounter a variety of stimulus material, including graphs, tables, diagrams, and text in the questions. The level of subject knowledge required for this section is generally equivalent to the first year of university studies in Chemistry and Biology, and A level/year 12 in Physics.

How long is GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT is 5.25 hours long, including the 21 minutes of allocated reading time and a 1 hour break. There is no break between sections 1 and 2; the 1 hour break falls between sections 2 and 3. The table below shows the amount of reading and writing time allocated to each of the three sections.

Section No. Of questions Reading time Writing time
Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences 62 8 minutes 92 minutes
Section 2: Written Communication 2 5 minutes 60 minutes
Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences 75 8 minutes 142 minutes

How is the GAMSAT scored?

The GAMSAT is marked section by section, so you will receive three individual scores for sections 1, 2 and 3 on a scale from 0-100. These scores will then be used to calculate an overall score, also from 0-100, which is a weighted average of the three sections. The overall GAMSAT score is calculated using the following formula:

Overall Score = (1 × Section I + 1 × Section II + 2 × Section III) ÷ 4

You will not be negatively marked on any multiple-choice questions, however if more than one answer is given, you will not receive any marks for that question.

What is a good GAMSAT score?

The average score (50th percentile) in the March 2022 GAMSAT exam was 59. A score of 65 (75th percentile) was considered generally good and a score of 75 (98th percentile) was considered very high. However, these scores change from year to year depending on the particular cohort of GAMSAT takers, and ultimately a ‘good’ score should be determined by looking at the score required by your chosen medical school. The table below shows the cut-off scores of several UK universities in 2022.

University Cut-off score (2022)
St George’s 56
Nottingham 56
Cardiff 58
Swansea 63
Exeter 63
Plymouth 65

6 tips on how to prepare for the GAMSAT

1. Find out if and when you need to take the GAMSAT and leave plenty of time

Not every medical school requires applicants to take the GAMSAT and, of the universities that do, there are often still specificities about which applicants are required to take it. It’s therefore important to find out if you are required to take the test in order to apply to your chosen university to ensure that your application is considered.

You also need to find out when you should take the GAMSAT. There are two sittings per year (March and September) however not all test centres offer both, so you should make sure you plan where and when you need to register in advance. You should also make sure that you will receive your GAMSAT score before submitting your university application by the deadline, and that you leave enough time prior to the test to prepare adequately.

2. Brush up on your Science knowledge

Section 3 of the GAMSAT tests your scientific knowledge of first year university level Chemistry and Biology, and A level Physics. If you come from a Science background, much of the content in the GAMSAT may be familiar to you, however it will still likely have been some time since you revised the content specifically, so it’s important to identify what subjects may come up, how in-depth you’ll need to go in your revision, and any areas you’ll need to brush up on.

If you come from a non-Science background, learning this content from scratch is extremely important and can seem quite daunting. However, it is certainly possible to learn the content necessary to succeed in the GAMSAT, especially with the help of a professional GAMSAT tutor. A tutor can help you to identify all of the content you need to learn and calculate how much time you will need to spend preparing in order to maximise your chances of achieving an excellent score. If you’re eager to get started, reach out to our team of GAMSAT experts today.

3. Practise reading and writing in different styles of English

Section 2 of the GAMSAT specifically assesses your ability to develop and write ideas on a range of socio-cultural issues in a clear and effective way. This is a section of the GAMSAT that can trip some test takers up, especially if English is not your first language, as you will be assessed not only on your thoughts and ideas, but also the fluency and coherency of the language you use.

A great way to prepare for this section of the test is to practise reading from a range of sources in English and writing in different styles and on different topics. The broader your knowledge of the English language and how to use it effectively, the better you are likely to perform in section 2.

Reputable sources you can turn to for texts on socio-cultural issues include (but are not limited to): The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Economist. You can also immerse yourself in the English language in other ways, such as by listening to TED talks, informative podcasts and YouTube videos, and audiobooks.

4. Take practice tests under timed conditions

One of the best ways to prepare for any test, including the GAMSAT, is to take practice tests under timed conditions. Practice tests allow you to familiarise yourself with the types of questions you will face in the exam and develop strategies to answer them effectively. For example, questions in Section 1 and 3 of the GAMSAT are in multiple-choice format and you do not lose marks for an incorrect answer. Thus, developing a strategy that allows you to answer as many questions as efficiently as possible will likely maximise your score and be of huge advantage to you in the exam.

Taking these tests under timed conditions also allows you to develop the mental stamina necessary to succeed in the GAMSAT. After all, a 5-hour exam is a significant mental undertaking and requires consistent training in order for you to achieve great results.
When you register for the GAMSAT, you will receive a Practice Questions ebook for free, however this typically does not provide enough resources to prepare sufficiently. There are some full practice papers available through ACER, the organisation that administers the GAMSAT, that you can use in your preparation, which cost £28 each.

Working with a professional GAMSAT tutor will also unlock countless resources, including practice questions and tried-and-tested strategies for success, for you to use in your preparation. To find out more about how The Profs’ GAMSAT tutors can help you, reach out to our team today.

5. Know what score you’re aiming for

Each GAMSAT-requiring medical school typically has its own cut-off score. If it does not publish this cut-off score, you may be able to find the average GAMSAT score of successful applicants in a given year. Although these scores will change from year to year, they will give you a good benchmark of what to aim for in your preparation.

You can also use these scores to identify where to invest your preparation time. For example, if you know from practice tests that you score highly in sections 1 and 2, but that section 3 is a weak area for you, then you can invest more time in improving your scientific knowledge and practising those styles of questions to boost your section 3 score, as this will help to improve your overall GAMSAT score.

6. Work with an expert GAMSAT tutor

Preparing for the GAMSAT can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to perform well so that you can get into your dream medical school and, unlike school, you won’t necessarily have a structured learning plan that ensures you are prepared for all of the content. The solution to this is to work with an admissions test expert.

Working with a tutor will provide so many benefits to your preparation. A GAMSAT tutor can:

  • Identify and focus on areas in which you need extra support.
    It can be tricky to identify your own weaknesses, especially if you don’t know what exactly your examiners are looking for. Our experienced GAMSAT specialists can help you tailor your preparation to areas where it’s most needed.
  • Offer insider knowledge on the admissions test you are taking and what the assessors will be looking for.
    The Profs’ admissions test tutors have first-hand experience of the specific GAMSAT structure, content and wider medical admissions process, all of which will be invaluable to your preparation.
  • Make the preparation more fun and engaging.
    It can be difficult to stay self-motivated and engaged when you’re juggling GAMSAT preparation with your regular commitments, and all of the other requirements of applying for medical school. Ensuring the preparation process is enjoyable will take some of the pressure off while still maximising your chances of success.
  • Improve your chances of success.
    The Profs only work with the very best tutors in the industry, with less than 10% of tutors who apply to our network being accepted and more than 90% of our tutors holding postgraduate qualifications. As a result, The Profs’ tutors help more than 90% of students get into their first or second choice university and are best placed to help you improve your chances of successfully getting into your chosen medical school.

Top tip: Don’t forget about potential interviews! You don’t need to wait until invites are sent out after completing your GAMSAT to begin interview preparation. Preparing for your interview early will leave you with more time and make sure all of your hard work in the GAMSAT is worthwhile. Our admissions experts can help you with all areas of the medical application process, including interview preparation, so reach out if you’re in need of support.

FAQs

What does GAMSAT stand for?

GAMSAT stands for Graduate Medical School Admissions Test. It is administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) and is primarily used by universities in Australia, the UK, and Ireland.

Is GAMSAT harder than UCAT?

The GAMSAT and UCAT both assess your readiness for medical degree courses, however there are some key differences between the two that may make one harder than the other. For example, the GAMSAT is almost three times as long as the UCAT so requires greater mental stamina, however the UCAT is more time-pressured. The GAMSAT also requires essay writing, whereas the UCAT is entirely multiple-choice. In addition, the GAMSAT requires specific scientific knowledge up to the level of the first year of university, whereas the UCAT has no assumed knowledge and tests more transferable skills.

How long do GAMSAT results last?

GAMSAT scores are valid for up to 2 years in the UK and Ireland. You should therefore make sure that you plan when to take your GAMSAT to ensure that your score is received and in-date when you submit your university application/s.

How long does it take to study for the GAMSAT?

The length of time it takes to study for the GAMSAT depends on your existing level of knowledge and preparedness. For example, if you come from a non-Science background, it may take you longer to study for the GAMSAT than someone from a Science background, as you will have to learn school and university-level Biology, Physics and Chemistry from scratch.

In general, we recommend leaving at least 3 months to prepare for the GAMSAT adequately. However, if you are planning ahead and have more time, it’s usually best to start preparing as early as possible (around 6 months or more before the test) to avoid having to cram in the final weeks. This will also allow you enough time to find a tutor that is well-suited to you and your learning style.