Should I sit the GAMSAT?
The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is one of the aptitude tests used to select students for graduate-entry medicine degrees in the UK. Not every medical school requires you to sit the GAMSAT so it can be tricky to decide whether or not to study for the exam.
While there is no right answer to this question, in this article we’ll explore some of the things you should consider when making the decision.
What is being tested?
The GAMSAT tests a wide range of skills. It’s divided into three subsections:
- Section 1: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences
- Section 2: Written Communication
- Section 3: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences
When calculating your overall score the final section is given double weighting. It is worth considering if the skills being tested in the GAMSAT such as essay writing and scientific reasoning play to your individual strengths. For example, someone with a science-based background may find Section 3 easier, and needing less preparation time, than someone who has previously studied the humanities.
Which Universities Require the GAMSAT?
There are a total of six GEM courses in the UK which use the GAMSAT for shortlisting of candidates. In brief these are:
- University of Liverpool
- St George’s, University of London
- Swansea University
- University of Nottingham
- Ulster University
If you’re particularly keen on any of the above medical schools, or have personal circumstances tying you to any of these local areas you’ll need to take the GAMSAT. We have a whole article detailing which UK universities use the GAMSAT, including previous cut-off scores here.
UCAT and other alternatives
As we’ve just seen not every GEM university requires you to sit the GAMSAT. Other medical schools offering 4-year accelerated courses for graduates use alternative tests such as the UCAT. Additionally Oxford opts for the BMAT, whereas Cambridge doesn’t require any admissions tests.
Consider which exam would play to your strengths as the skillset tested by and the structure of the UCAT is different. If you wanted to avoid taking the GAMSAT it is entirely possible to only apply to GEM courses using one of these alternative admissions tests.
Should I apply for standard medicine?
Graduate applicants are also welcome to apply for standard 5-year courses. Some universities requiring you sit the GAMSAT for their GEM course won’t require you to sit it for their standard course. So if you’re considering standard-entry medicine as a graduate make sure you’re sitting right exam before applying.
Unfortunately the GAMSAT is a pretty pricey exam. It costs a total of £283 to register for the exam. On top of that, the exam can only be taken at a select number of test centres around the country. So consider that you may need to fund travel and even a hotel stay too. You can see the list of test centres here. Unlike the UCAT and BMAT there is no bursary fund for the GAMSAT. This means every test taker will have to pay the fees regardless of circumstance.
Do I have time?
There are two sittings of the GAMSAT each year: March and September. Your scores are valid for two years so there is a possible four sittings for each application cycle. Your best score is the one that will be forwarded on to medical schools, so it’s perfectly acceptable to sit the exams multiple times before you apply. However, it is worth remembering that if you sit the GAMSAT in the September before your application deadline (e.g. Sept 2021 for 2022 entry) you won’t know your score before you submit your application. Our handy GAMSAT FAQ article has all the relevant deadline dates you need for the Sept 2021 sitting.
It’s also worth considering how long it would take you to prepare for the exam. Typically we recommend 3-6 months of consistent revision, but this will vary between individuals. If you don’t have a science background you should factor in more time to prepare, remembering that Section 3 questions will be based on first year undergraduate level Biology and Chemistry, and A-Level Physics equivalent. If you’re in your final year of university make sure you can balance a GAMSAT study schedule alongside your existing studies as securing that 2:1 degree classification is one of the most important things you can do for GEM admission.