Everything You Need To Know About The GAMSAT Exam 2022 Dates and The Online Format
With the March 2022 GAMSAT just around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to start preparing for your GAMSAT and exploring the subsequent medical school admission process.
Whether you are resitting the GAMSAT, or are a fresh test-taker, the fact of the matter is that the online GAMSAT is here to stay for years to come. So to answer your question, yes, the March and future GAMSATs will be computerised exams conducted at supervised test centres that maintain the social distancing standards set out by Australian State Governments.
Since Australia is on a vaccine streak, encouraging its population to get the jab before participating in mass gatherings, the March and September 2022 GAMSATs would likely be accessible to fully-vaccinated applicants only. Although the worst of COVID is behind us, there are still some lurking concerns around doing the GAMSAT online from home, considering the nature of GAMSAT questions and the need to be tech savvy in order to master typing instead of hand-writing.
Let’s begin by establishing that digitisation is the current norm.
ACER has been quick at adapting to a COVID-safe testing format to ensure the quality of testing is not compromised with lockdowns and the assessment remains consistent. Moving forward, Australia and other world-wide test centres will be conducting the GAMSAT at supervised testing venues, providing each student with a computer and stable internet connection. Additionally, ACER will also provide earplugs for students who wish to work without external interference. You are also allowed to bring your own earplugs but cannot listen to any audio/music while undertaking the exam.
With COVID in no rush to leave, bear in mind that ACER could announce changes to your testing window at the last minute. Let’s not forget the eleventh hour changes for students in Victoria to sit their September 2021 GAMSAT, where they discovered that they were to take the GAMSAT in their homes.
Every year, including the year 2020, when GAMSAT was allegedly cancelled only to reappear in May, there were two testing windows offered to eligible students. Although there are no significant alterations to the way your performance is assessed or the calculation of scores, the COVID outbreak led to a drastic format changes in Section 1 and Section 3 for 2021. The result of the GAMSAT 2021 format change was a cut-down of the mammoth total question number while Section 2 remained unchanged.
For the upcoming 2022 GAMSAT, ACER notified students that Section 1 total questions and time has been increased to carefully assess students’ varying degree of verbal processing and conceptual thinking to provide plausible reasoning on social and cultural contexts.
Typically, in our experience students see the March GAMSAT as their make or break sitting. The September GAMSAT on the other hand is seen as a second go to rectify the errors from the previous sitting. In essence, the September GAMSAT should not be taken lightly as it gives students the opportunity to secure a competitive score without having to delay another year to enter medicine. Remember, the point of the September sitting is so that UK and Ireland students can obtain scores in line with their own application cycles.
The Fraser’s family believes that the 2022 online GAMSAT will be conducted at formal test centres and not from homes, provided that COVID restrictions are not enforced. This brings us to another major difference between the March and September GAMSAT - available test centres.
The number of operating test centres is greater in March as opposed to the September testing window. This enables you to choose from a range of available GAMSAT venues for March that are likely to be closer to where you live, hence cutting down on your associated travel cost and stress.
The year 2020 has been full of uncertainties. With ACER’s decision to cut down Section 1 and Section 2 questions, we believe that the current exam format will prevail in the 2022 online GAMSAT as well. To give you the gist of the 2020 GAMSAT, the following table displays the old GAMSAT format vs the new GAMSAT exam.
As you can see, Section 2 and Section 3 questions have had NO major changes since 2020, and this will likely remain the same in the foreseeable future of GAMSATs. However, the considerable increase in the total question number for Section 1 will begin to favour those students that are better at this section in their overall GAMSAT score. The 2020 online GAMSAT reduced the number of Section 1 questions, which meant students needed to be attuned to all question styles rather than averaging out their performance over few incorrect responses.
The new GAMSAT format is also further adapting to the computer system and navigating information across different tabs. Learning from past student experiences, ACER has given students up to 4 sheets of paper to note down their strategies, formulas and ideas for Section 2 essays without having to do it all on a computer screen. In our opinion, the 2022 GAMSAT will follow a similar testing regime, where you may have scrap paper to pen down your ideas before typing it onto the computer screen. We recommend dividing your paper up into folds so that you can keep your working out organised and not run out of space.
On a side note, you are allowed to take the GAMSAT multiple times but remember that the GAMSAT price is quite high. It often takes high-performing students more than one sitting to get accustomed to the GAMSAT exam format, hence adequate preparation is important to put your best foot forward in each sitting.
With the aforementioned information, we can say with clarity that the future GAMSATs will be challenging, purely because you need to be good at all question-types and cannot be selective in your preparation. Every question-theme needs to be given equal importance for success in the exam if you are wanting to perform to the highest level - enough for a shot at medicine.
What could be seen as a positive spin in the online setting is that the allocated reading time is no longer inclusive of your test duration. Basically, you will be given upto 5-6 minutes of additional time, that allows you to sift through the question-types and orientate to the section before actually attempting a section.
Furthermore, during the past GAMSATs, the invigilators had to distribute question and answer sheets, and allot seating arrangements based on your admission ticket, which was time consuming. However, the current paperless GAMSAT will be a faster exam process as these above tasks have now been replaced by the use of computers. There is a big caveat to this this though - ACER’s computer systems will have to work on the day, and we are used to large tech crashes affecting students' exams.
In your future GAMSATs, you will likely begin your test by attempting Section 1 and Section 2 questions first and will be given a 30-minute break before Section 3, rather than a two hour interlude with a large lunch session. This is a major advantage, especially to those students who have anxiety around this ‘break period’ before the prolonged science section. The 30-minute break is just long enough to relax your mind and munch on some healthy snacks, while not long enough that you need to think about pacing yourself with a larger meal.
Put simply, no. The GAMSAT score calculation will not change for 2022. However, the score interpretation will be dependent on the university’s decision of choosing a ‘weighted’ or an ‘unweighted’ GAMSAT score.
GAMSAT, as you know, is a psychometric evaluation that is used by medical schools to select students with a strong medical potential. ACER, the company responsible for organising the GAMSAT, is fair in its assessment and has an explicit obligation to provide quality GAMSAT scores to medical schools that are derived based on merit alone. For these reasons, you need not worry about the calculation process, however, it is good to keep in mind that the threshold score across universities can vary each year.
If you want a deeper dive on how scores are calculated read our GAMSAT Scores article.
In order to deduce the GAMSAT requirements across postgraduate medical schools, you have to familiarise yourself with the question-types to achieve a score in the top decile. This is an obvious fact but the thing about GAMSAT questions is that it can be unpredictable, forcing you to integrate numerous themes under a single section. In our experience, most students who prepare independently fail to develop multiple strategies, during their preparation to tackle the trickiest of GAMSAT questions.
Therefore, we recommend students follow Fraser's method, which is a simple and straightforward learning approach that begins with personal development. When it comes to simulation, each time you do a mock exam, take it as seriously as you would in the real exam. You need all the practice that you can get. This practice will be of great help on your GAMSAT day because you will know the measures that work for you to get into the GAMSAT zone.
If you need further information regarding Fraser's teaching philosophy, reach out to our GAMSAT tutors to better understand our ideologies of tackling the intricacies of GAMSAT.
To succeed in the 2022 GAMSAT, start your preparation by removing any stigma around computerised testing. Your mentality towards this exam also plays a crucial role in how you prepare for it. Furthermore, do not hesitate to undertake multiple practice tests and mock exams as these don’t just mimic the actual GAMSAT, but highlight your strengths and weaknesses to improve your overall performance.
We wish you the best of luck!