The September 2021 GAMSAT scores have continued the trend of a flatter curve seen with the online GAMSATs. Since the shift from the paper exam, we are seeing a greater percentage of sitters scoring higher, and now also a greater percentage scoring less than 50 overall.
One of the first things to take note of with the September curve is the decline in the median score. While previous online GAMSATs had a raised median compared to its paper predecessors, the September GAMSAT was more akin to the paper based exam. While this may demonstrate that the new era of GAMSAT delivery is entering a more stable equilibrium of GAMSAT medians, it may also demonstrate that the cohort itself was simply slightly weaker than the most recent sittings.
Nevertheless, what does indeed suggest that the cohort was weaker than previous GAMSATs is the high percentage of those that obtained an overall score less than 50. For the September sitting, roughly 18% of applicants scored less than 50, which is dramatically larger than the usual 10% of test-takers.
When looking at the September curve’s drop in median and also drop in percentage of those scoring above 50, it is very easy to incorrectly conclude that the GAMSAT is becoming harder. As such, we must always interpret the right things when looking at a GAMSAT curve.
Ensuring that we can apply with four different GAMSATs for a given year of medicine entry means that the GAMSAT scores must be comparable. What this means is that an overall score of 60 in one sitting must be equivalent to a 60 in another sitting. This means that the difficulty of the exam does not impact whether an applicant is ‘worth’ receiving their score, considering the score itself reflects the attributes of that applicant.
Consequently, whether a given sitting is easier or harder will not mean that there is a change in difficulty to score more highly. Instead, it simply means there is a different degree of adjustments on ACER's behalf to determine what level of performance for a score of 60 in one sitting will equate to a 60 in previous sittings.
The right question is therefore not whether the GAMSAT is becoming harder, but rather to assess how difficult it is to get a score likely to land us a spot in medicine.
With respect to the GAMSAT scores and its acceptance rate amongst medical schools, what does this mean for prospective applicants? September GAMSAT was undertaken by a small cohort, and besides the scores from this sitting, the March 2022 GAMSAT sitting scores will also be applicable for the 2022 med school application cycle for 2023 entry. Considering the medical school application process is highly competitive, it is important that an applicant aims to score in the top decile to have a strong chance at progressing to the medical interview stage. Therefore, those who did not make the competitive cut in the September GAMSAT still have the March 2022 GAMSAT to apply for a medical degree commencement in 2023.
As the number of GAMSAT applicants are increasing year by year, and as the curve continues to flatten such that more applicants are scoring 70+, it is paramount to grow as much as possible for the upcoming GAMSAT.
Take a look at the curves below to see how the September 2021 GAMSAT compared to the recent March sittings.