GAMSAT Info Taming the beast

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GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admission Test) is an entrance examination that must be completed by all applicants to graduate medical schools in Australia (as well as some in the UK and Ireland). The examination is held only once a year, in the middle of March for Australian and Irish applicants (the middle of September for UK applicants), and takes a whole day to complete. A GAMSAT result is a prerequisite for applying to graduate-entry medicine and dentistry (as well as some graduate-entry pharmacy, optometry and podiatry courses); therefore, to be eligible to sit GAMSAT, you must already have a Bachelor degree or be in the final or penultimate year of a course leading to the award of a Bachelor degree.

If you're sitting GAMSAT this year, be sure to have a read of my comprehensive GAMSAT guide on my blog.

Dates, Cost and Results

In 2014, GAMSAT is being held on Saturday 22 March 2014 and the fee to sit the exam is $440. You can register for the exam at the ACER website. ACER does not give a release date for results other than "late May" but in previous years it has typically been eight weeks after the date of the exam, often on a Friday afternoon. On this basis, the estimated date of the release of GAMSAT results for 2014 is Friday 16 May 2014. You can see a calendar of all the relevant dates for GAMSAT on the Upcoming Events page.

Structure

GAMSAT is composed of three sections, specifically:

Section I: Humanities and Social Sciences

Section I has a time limit of 100 minutes. It comprises 75 multiple-choice questions centered around the interpretation of prose, poetry, flowcharts, diagrams and cartoons.

Section II: Written Communication

Section II has a time limit of 60 minutes. It comprises two pieces of writing based on the themes of two sets of provided quotations. Candidates typically write these in essay format, however there is no requirement to do so and they can be written in any form.

Section III: Biological and Physical Sciences

Section III has a time limit of 170 minutes. It comprises 110 multiple-choice questions made up roughly of 40% biology, 40% chemistry and 20% physics. The standard at which the questions are set is first-year university level (for biology and chemistry) and HSC-level (for physics).

Content

From the GAMSAT 2014 information booklet:

GAMSAT is designed to assess the capacity to undertake high level intellectual studies in a demanding course. GAMSAT Australia is offered once a year only. GAMSAT evaluates 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.

...

The purpose of GAMSAT is to assess your ability to understand and analyse material, to think critically about issues and, in the case of the Written Communication section, to organise and express your thoughts in a logical and effective way. GAMSAT questions are based on material drawn from a variety of sources. They typically require candidates to read and think about a passage of writing, to interpret graphical displays of information, to use mathematical relationships and to apply reasoning skills to tables of data. Problem solving is a major focus of the test.

GAMSAT Scoring

Each section of GAMSAT is given a score out of 100, and then all three sections are combined to give a total GAMSAT score. For all universities other than the University of Melbourne, the science section of the GAMSAT is given double weighting so that the calculated total score is given by:

\[\frac{\text{Section I} + \text{Section II} + 2\times\text{Section III}}{4}\]

The University of Melbourne only gives single weighting to section III, resulting in a total score of:

\[\frac{\text{Section I} + \text{Section II} + \text{Section III}}{3}\]

The scores for sections I and III are not raw or scaled marks in the traditional sense. Instead, GAMSAT multiple-choice scoring makes use of a system called Item Response Theory (IRT). Essentially, each individual question in each section is allocated a set of parameters (question difficulty, chance to guess, etc). These parameters are then iteratively massaged based on candidate responses to give a best fit for how much "better" each candidate is than each of the questions. Every year, a percentile curve is released along with results so that candidates can determine their percentile rank.

GAMSAT Percentile Curve 2011

Figure 1: The GAMSAT percentile curve from 2011

Further Information

For a discussion of GAMSAT questions from previous years, GAMSAT strategy and help with practice questions, head on over to the PagingDr GAMSAT sub-forum.


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