To ensure this article is easy to follow, we’ll refer to these sections as ‘Section 1’, ‘Section 2’, and ‘Section 3’ throughout. Read about the latest changes to the GAMSAT.
Pursuing your path to medicine or dentistry through graduate entry? The GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) is one of many hoops you’ll need to jump through as part of the entry requirements.
We understand that preparing for the GAMSAT can be an arduous journey, so we’ve put together tried-and-tested GAMSAT preparation tips to help you along the way.
If you want to find out more about the exam, check out our GAMSAT FAQ article. It covers over 30 common questions about the GAMSAT, including which dental and medical schools require the GAMSAT and how the GAMSAT is scored.
Table of contents
1. Learn what the GAMSAT tests and how
2. Begin your preparation as early as possible
3. Identify and address areas for improvement
4. Attempt questions untimed then timed
5. Learn how to estimate quickly
6. Set realistic goals
7. Read then reflect
8. Brush up on your prerequisite knowledge
9. Simulate the test environment
10. Focus on all three sections
11. Practise, a lot!
12. Master your pacing
13. Learn how to guess effectively
14. Prioritise your wellbeing
15. Use trusted preparation resources
A logical starting place for GAMSAT prep is to learn what each of the sections is testing, how each section is delivered (remotely or in a test centre), and how these skills are assessed:
For more detailed information on the GAMSAT, check out the ACER GAMSAT Information Booklet.
The GAMSAT usually takes longer to prepare for than the UCAT (anywhere from 3–12 months). This is mostly because it requires a higher level of thinking and more prerequisite knowledge. Unlike the UCAT, GAMSAT testing is delivered via both remote proctoring (Section 2) and in-person test centres (Section 1 and 3). In addition to test preparation, you should factor in logistical preparation too, such as ensuring you meet the technical requirements for remote proctoring i.e. having the correct equipment and a stable internet connection.
Furthermore, the UCAT is only valid for admission in the following year, but your GAMSAT score is valid for two years. You can sit the exam multiple times, but only once per test window (i.e. once in March and once in September), and use your best score. Therefore, there is every reason to start preparing as early as possible, and even sit the exam a number of times if needed.
Finally, rote learning will be of negligible benefit when preparing for the GAMSAT. Instead, you must build and refine the various skills needed to succeed in the exam. You should give yourself enough time to work through this process, and to avoid unnecessary stress caused by cramming.
Reflection is critical during GAMSAT preparation. You need to know which sections, topics, or questions you’re doing well in, and which you aren’t, to pinpoint your areas for improvement.
It’s important to make time for addressing your weaknesses. If you’re unable to make progress (i.e. you’re struggling with the same topics or question types and can’t increase your score), review your study approaches, and experiment with different strategies to see what works best.
Significantly increasing your score requires time and patience. If your morale is decreasing at any point, take a short break from your revision, and revisit it when you’re feeling better. Remember, any mistake you make during your GAMSAT revision is one you can avoid on test day (but only if you take the time to learn from your mistakes).
Keep in mind that, in the final week before test day, you may get more benefit from brushing up on strengths than focusing on weaknesses.
At the start of your preparation period, you don’t need to worry too much about speed. Instead, utilise this time to focus on how best to approach answering questions and improving your question-solving techniques.
If you’re struggling with a particular question type, focus on improving your accuracy first. This means doing untimed practice and reviewing every question. If you got the question wrong, you need to understand why this happened. If you answered the question correctly, you need to check that you got it right for the right reasons.
Once you get the hang of answering questions, you can then attempt questions under timed conditions. An effective technique is to recognise any gaps in thinking between answers in untimed and timed modes. For instance, do you notice any patterns emerging when you answer questions under pressure? If so, how can you address this moving forward?
As a calculator isn’t allowed in the exam, knowing how to estimate quickly is essential. Approximation and estimation are fundamental maths skills that you will need (both in the exam and in the medical world).
Examples of this include rounding decimals to the nearest whole number, or identifying common variables and cancelling them out, to simplify calculations and equations. You can build your confidence making estimations and completing calculations without a calculator by going through practice questions.
The key to GAMSAT success is effective preparation. We highly recommend creating a weekly study timetable with daily tasks for the week. You can use this study plan to ensure you’re going over enough material each day to cover enough ground in your preparation period.
Be careful not to set unrealistic targets such as studying for five hours a day, or attempting to cover too much material in a short space of time (e.g. five mock exams in five days). This will not aid your preparation and could result in you feeling demoralised if you’re unable to meet these goals. You will benefit most from shorter sprints (an hour or two each day) rather than marathon revision sessions.
You should also decide how often you want to sit a full mock in your preparation period. This will depend on how much time you have left until test day and how many mocks you have yet to sit. Many students sit a full mock every week or two weeks, but this will depend on your other commitments. For example, if you’re in full time work and mostly revise during weekends, you may prefer to sit a full mock every two or three weeks.
You also need to understand what a ‘good’ GAMSAT score is that you feel you can realistically achieve. Find out more about how the GAMSAT is scored.
The marks in GAMSAT Section 1 come from the questions, not the passages. However, you will spend a fair amount of time working with passages in order to answer questions. This is why you may see ‘read a lot’ crop up frequently in guidance for Section 1.
While this is sound advice, and you should aim to read as broadly as possible, it’s not enough to just read. You should spend just as much time actually reflecting on the content you’re consuming. This involves critically analysing texts and data, and deriving concepts and interpretations from the materials you read.
Become familiar with the wide range of stimuli you may get tested on, such as poetry, cartoons and illustrations, fiction, and non-fiction text. Don’t forget to practise Section 1 questions – the more you practise, the better you’ll understand the different types of stimulus, as well as how to tackle this section too.
For Section 3 of the GAMSAT, you’ll need the equivalent knowledge of a first year undergraduate in biology and chemistry. The physics questions will be at A-level standard. As this is the only section of the GAMSAT which requires prior knowledge, you can use this to your advantage by getting up to speed with these subjects.
Don’t get caught out by only learning facts and formulas though. Revising Section 3 subject matter is not the same as practising Section 3 questions. Remember, it’s the application of scientific concepts to unfamiliar contexts and logical reasoning that counts.
This means you should continuously practise with mock exams and questions. While your scientific knowledge can help you to understand the context of each set, the question solving process requires a different approach to preparation, such as the mastery and application of certain skills.
To prepare efficiently for the GAMSAT, it’s important to practise with full mocks and to mirror the test environment as closely as possible. For example, as there’s a 20 minute break between Section 1 and 3 in the exam, you should factor this into your practice.
In addition, as the GAMSAT is a computer-based test, you will need to do any rough workings out or make notes on a small whiteboard or piece of paper. When you complete GAMSAT questions and mocks, you should practise doing your workings out on a sheet of A4 paper or a small whiteboard.
Don’t forget to sit mocks according to when you’ve booked your test. For instance, if your test session is in the AM, you should sit a Section 1 mock in the morning, take a 20 minute break (to eat or use the bathroom), then sit a Section 3 mock. If you’ve booked an AM test session but always start practising in the afternoon, you won’t be simulating the true test day experience.
Although Section 2 is delivered via remote proctoring, it’s still important to simulate the test environment, such as factoring in what time you’ll be sitting this part of the exam. You should familiarise yourself with how remote proctoring works to ensure this section goes as smoothly as possible.
This may seem like an obvious point, but you may be tempted to focus too much on some sections and not enough on others. For instance, if you have a strong science background, you may feel more confident with Section 3. Although prerequisite knowledge is needed, if you don’t know how to apply this knowledge, then this won’t act as an advantage. Keep in mind that although Section 3 is doubly weighted, some universities will use an average score from each section which is weighted equally. This means you’ll need to perform well across all sections.
Also, it’s not uncommon for students to subconsciously keep practising sections they’re already good at, as doing well in these can make you feel better about yourself. However, in doing so, you’ll avoid weaker areas and won’t actually be improving your performance over time. Whatever your tendencies are, be careful not to neglect any of the three sections.
For more specific GAMSAT guidance on each section, check out the following:
The best way to prepare for GAMSAT is to put your learning into action. GAMSAT practice tests and questions are going to become paramount in your revision. By increasing your exposure to different types of questions, you’ll become more efficient at not only identifying the kind of question you’re being asked, but how to answer it too.
Make sure you try out different tips and techniques to see what’s effective, and practise these until they become quicker and instinctive. You should model the ideal test day approach in practice exams and questions until you internalise it. The more questions you practise (and learn from), the better your chance of success.
Although you should feel relatively comfortable answering questions under timed conditions by the time you sit the GAMSAT, you will still face time pressure. If you’re running out of time and don’t know the answer to every question, that’s okay. Answer the ones you do know and take a logical guess at those you don’t.
Don’t forget that all questions are worth equal marks. If you’re spending too long on a single question, it’s better to move on and come back to it. Mastering pacing is not simply about answering questions more quickly. It’s about answering shorter, simpler questions more quickly, to allow time for longer and more difficult questions.
There are four approaches to selecting the correct answer in a multiple choice question:
1. Work it out
2. Eliminate incorrect answers
3. Guess strategically
4. Guess blindly
The most common, and the ideal approach, is to work it out. Sometimes eliminating incorrect answers can be a more effective technique if you’re comfortable with it.
Guessing strategically is necessary when you don’t have enough time for approach 1 or 2. Even if you don’t have enough time to complete all questions, or aren’t sure of every answer, don’t leave any questions unanswered. You should aim to leave yourself a few minutes at the end of the exam to go back over any answers you don’t know.
When you guess strategically, assess the answer options and try to identify which one is the most sensible, and which ones are complete outliers that you want to avoid. For example, can you rule out or disprove any answers to improve your chances of getting the answer correct?
The least ideal approach is to guess blindly, but it’s still better than leaving a question unanswered. If you make a blind guess, you have a 25% chance (1 in 4) of selecting the correct answer and getting the mark. If you leave a question blank, you have a 0% chance of getting the mark. Remember, there is no negative marking in the GAMSAT!
At a time of intense stress for many, it’s crucial to look after your mental, physical, and emotional health. This means nourishing your body and mind through nutrition, sleep, and exercise.
As you should be studying for the GAMSAT over a number of months, you’ll want to prioritise your wellness from the outset. After all, you won’t be able to sustain productivity, or perform well when it matters most, if you experience burn out. Learn how to practise mindfulness to help you effectively manage stress.
Take regular breaks when you’re studying and make time for activities that aren’t related to the GAMSAT. This could be going for a walk, taking a class at the gym, or catching up with a friend.
Something else to remember is that if all doesn’t go to plan, you can re-take the GAMSAT as many times as you like, provided that you sit it only once per exam cycle. In fact, it’s not unusual for students to sit the exam twice or more. According to BioMed Central, close to 50% of test-takers are repeat takers. If you end up sitting the GAMSAT multiple times, you can choose which result to include in your application.
If you’re unsure how to prepare for GAMSAT, or need additional support while preparing, consider using a trusted preparation course such as our GAMSAT Online Course.
Our GAMSAT course can help to boost your score as it offers: