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What will the March 2024 GAMSAT look like?

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Written By
Akif Isalm

Another March, Another GAMSAT

The March GAMSAT Exam is an infamous one in the pre-medical world across the globe. Over 10 000 candidates sit the March GAMSAT every year, and in Australia, it is the final GAMSAT one can sit to apply for GEMSAS universities by May in order to begin medical school in the next year. Subsequently, its popularity and discourse continues to burgeon as each calendar year ticks by.

Although the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has not yet announced the confirmed dates and logistics of the March 2024 (M24) GAMSAT, we can still turn our attention to this upcoming GAMSAT. There have been intriguing changes to the GAMSAT over the years - in relation to scores, logistics & skills tested in each of the Sections - which have formed the basis of consistent trends that we can analyse to break down what to expect in the next GAMSAT.

The Logistics of the March 2024 GAMSAT: Business As Usual

Recap of the September 2023 GAMSAT Logistics

Before we anticipate the specifics of the March 2024 GAMSAT, we must first understand its predecessor. The most recent GAMSAT unfolded as follows:

  • Dates: Held across 8-12 September 2023.
  • Arrival Time: Candidates required to arrive by 8am.

GAMSAT Exam Logistics

  • Invigilators would usher candidates into the exam room, each provided with a PC for the exam and two sheets of blank A4 paper for Sections 1 & 2.
  • After the administration process was concluded, Section 1 would begin at roughly 9am and last until 10:40am.
  • After the conclusion of Section 1, candidates were not allowed to leave their exam chair.
  • Section 2 followed immediately and would last from 10:45am till 11:50am.

Lunch Break:

  • Post-Section 2, candidates received a one-hour lunch break, resuming at 1:00pm.

Post-Break Procedure:

  • On return, candidates received another two sheets of paper for Section 3.
  • Section 3 would begin at 1:15pm and last until roughly 3:45pm.
  • Post-exam, candidates would be invited to collect their bags and then exit the exam room.

Expectation of a Similar GAMSAT Format in 2024

This format of an online GAMSAT at a testing centre is extremely likely to continue for the March 2024 GAMSAT. ACER have favoured this format since shifting the GAMSAT online in the March 2020 GAMSAT which was held in May 2020. This shift was necessitated by COVID-19 restrictions across the globe but even after these restrictions have been lifted, ACER has not reverted back to a written GAMSAT given the cost-effectiveness of the online GAMSAT format.

From a timing point of view, it is also unlikely that any timings or question quantities will change and will remain the same, as detailed: 

Section Description Number of Questions Time in Minutes
Section 1 Reasoning in Humanities & Social Sciences 62 100
Section 2 Written Communication 2 65
Section 3 Reasoning in Biological & Physical Sciences 75 150

These numbers have remained constant for the last two GAMSAT and are extremely likely to continue moving forward.

What to expect for the March 2024 GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT is a psychometric exam. Unlike university exams which are typically predicated on knowledge and content memorisation, the GAMSAT tests the aptitude of candidates by uncovering psychometric trends in their mindset when they respond to stimuli. In each Section, there are a variety of psychometric skills - such as Logical Reasoning, Thematic Analysis & Mathematical Reasoning - that are tested to build a holistic profile of the psyche and aptitude of each candidate. This composition of the GAMSAT has remained consistent since 2017, and will not change. There have been, however, intriguing trends in each of the Sections that provide us with an understanding of what to expect for the M24 GAMSAT.

Analyzing GAMSAT Section 1: The Inference Trend

Pertaining to Section 1, as the GAMSAT occurs over multiple days, every candidate gets a different balance of questions in their 62 questions. Some may get more questions about journal articles, some may get more poems, others may get more questions about diagrams and so on. This has been a recurring trend for the past 3 years of GAMSATs, and will continue to remain for the M24 GAMSAT. As a result, this means that each candidate must ensure that their GAMSAT Section 1 skills are sound across the board - making sure that they have no glaring weaknesses across text types. 

Key Trends found in Section 1

When it comes to the psychometric skills tested within Section 1 questions, there have been two key trends noted in GAMSATs of recent times. 

  1. Comparative Analysis Increase: First of all, there has been an increase in the quantity of comparative analysis questions where candidates are required to compare the meanings, structure & context of multiple texts to arrive at an answer. 
  2. Logical & Deductive Reasoning Emphasis: Second, there has been an increase in logical reasoning & deductive reasoning questions - requiring individuals to assess the evidence and infer the closest answer based on the evidence provided.

Both these trends are projected to continue for the M24 GAMSAT - meaning that individuals preparing for Section 1 should pay close attention to their comparative analysis & logical reasoning skills.

Analyzing GAMSAT Section 2: Maintaining the Status Quo

On the other hand, Section 2 has undergone minimal change over the years. Each GAMSAT, candidates are provided with a Task A Prompt Set in Section 2, which has historically related to socio-political issues, and a Task B Prompt Set, which has been concerned more with the intangibilities of the human condition. 

Focus on content rather than task characterization

In recent GAMSATs, including September 2023, there has been an increasing blurring of the “dichotomy” between Task A & Task B Prompts - with potential Task B Prompts appearing as Task A Prompts, and vice versa. 

This means that for all candidates, the characterisation of each Task as A or B should not heavily influence their approach, but rather each candidate should focus on the content of the Prompt Set, and compose an effective piece of writing from there.

Keep in mind that as the GAMSAT occurs over numerous days, each candidate will get 2 Prompts from the Section 2 “pool of Prompts” ACER has allocated for the M24 GAMSAT. 

In terms of main themes & sub-themes embedded within the Prompt Sets, a constant pattern has endured in the last five years of the GAMSAT. 

  1. Approximately 90% of Prompt Sets contain relatively broad and general humanities themes that are able to be accessed and responded to. These include themes such as happiness, technology, love and government. 
  2. There are, however, 10% of Prompt Sets over the years that have contained more complex and niche themes which require more nuance and time to respond to. Some of the more recent themes like this have been wilderness, optimism, animal companionship and compromise.

 As such, we can project that the Prompt Sets for the March 2024 GAMSAT will contain mostly general and typical themes, with about 1-2 atypical and niche themes that some candidates will get.

Analyzing GAMSAT Section 3: Maths & Blurring Scientific Disciplines

Section 3 of the GAMSAT has undergone significant change over the GAMSATs.

Shift from Knowledge Testing to psychometric focus Testing

Pre-2017, Section 3 was heavily based upon prior scientific knowledge and would favour candidates who adopted a memorisation approach. 

Since 2017, however, Section 3 has joined Section 1 & Section 2 in being psychometrically-focused and testing the aptitude and skills of candidates behind each question. This psychometric focus in the natural sciences will continue into the March 2024 GAMSAT.

Maths Playing a Crucial Role

When it comes to the content within Section 3, there has been an increase in the number of questions which require a heavy dose of mathematical reasoning to reach the answer. This “maths-heavy” Section 3 exam has been a constant in the last three GAMSAT, and it is very likely that the March 2024 GAMSAT will be similar. 

We have also noticed that increasingly, stems and questions in Section 3 are less defined by whether they derive from biology, chemistry or physics, but rather are more focused on the underlying psychometric skill, such as graphical analysis or pathways understanding, to lead to the answer. 

This means that for candidates looking to hone their Section 3 skills, the focus should be on the foundational skills as outlined in ACER’s GAMSAT Information Booklet, rather than simply targeting physics or chemistry.

March 2024 GAMSAT Score Distribution: A Continuation of the Norm

A final key point to address is the projected GAMSAT Scores Distribution of the March 2024 GAMSAT. Below are two pivotal graphs. The first one provided by ACER details the Score Distribution from the most recent March GAMSAT. The second graph has been constructed by the Data Team at Fraser’s to plot the trend of March GAMSATs over time. 

What GAMSAT Score Should I be Aiming For?

What we learn from the first graph is that for the March 2023 GAMSAT, a GAMSAT score of 70 overall (considered a benchmark of a great GAMSAT score) would equate to being in the top 90th percentile of scorers. When we compare this to the trend of the previous five March GAMSATs, especially those from 2020 onwards, a similar trend appears. 

Scoring in the top 10% of scorers equates to a GAMSAT Overall Score of 70. This trend is likely to continue for the March 2024 GAMSAT - meaning that candidates seeking a competitive score should aim to be in the top 10% of scorers.

What should your next steps be to prepare for the March 2024 GAMSAT?

Based on analysing past GAMSATs, we have learned that:

  • The logistics of the March 2024 GAMSAT will likely not change
  • Section 1 of the M24 GAMSAT will continue to stress comparative & logical reasoning skills
  • Section 2 of the M24 GAMSAT will remain the same
  • Section 3 of the M24 GAMSAT will continue to be “maths-heavy” and increasingly less focused on the individual sciences of biology, chemistry and physics
  • An extremely competitive GAMSAT score of 70 overall in the March 2024 GAMSAT will equate to the top 10% of scorers

Using this knowledge, your first step in preparing for the March 2024 GAMSAT should be to read through the ACER GAMSAT Information Booklet of 2023. Although the 2024 Booklet has not been released yet, the logistics of the M24 GAMSAT are unlikely to change, and you should familiarise yourself with the exam conditions & timings. 

Comprehend Section Dynamics & Focus on understanding the theory behind questions

After this, it is important to understand the dynamics of each Section and gather relevant, up-to-date and online resources to help you learn & practice skills in each Section. Be careful not to just hoard thousands of questions - with the GAMSAT emphasising psychometric skills, it is more important to hone your reasoning skills by understanding the theory behind questions first.

Our Fraser’s Free LMS is a great way to begin comprehending the psychometrics of the GAMSAT as we provide a variety of resources ranging from videos, questions, theory & walkthroughs to help you understand the theory behind questions. 

Develop a Study Plan

As a final step after you have gathered GAMSAT resources, map out a study plan for the week ahead. Try not to force a study schedule for the next few months, as unforeseen circumstances, time with family & work can hinder these plans. It is rather more appropriate at this stage to stick to a weekly schedule with weekly goals, and then reassess and set new goals at the end of each week. It is crucial here to ensure these goals are skills-focused, rather than merely time-focused, given the psychometric nature of the GAMSAT. For example, set yourself a weekly goal of learning how to decipher the context and implicit meanings within poems, rather than just wanting to study five hours of Section 1.

Set weekly goals, tick them off and continue building your psychometric profile to dominate the M24 GAMSAT. Best of luck in your prep - go smash the GAMSAT!