Admissions Tests for Graduate ANZ Medical Schools: GAMSAT vs. MCAT

Everything ANZ Medical Schools Want You to Know About the MCAT vs. GAMSAT

Like most medical schools around the world, those in Australia and New Zealand require you to sit a general medical school admissions test. As of 2022, most graduate-entry ANZ medical schools require students to sit either the GAMSAT or the MCAT to qualify for an interview. We know first-hand just how tricky it can be to choose between these exams and prepare for them, so our ANZ medical school experts have pooled together their knowledge to give you the ultimate low-down on the GAMSAT and MCAT. 

Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT)

The GAMSAT is an examination that is often required of domestic medical applicants to graduate-entry medical and healthcare programmes. It is administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The GAMSAT takes 4 hours and 25 minutes in total, excluding breaks and including reading time. 

The GAMSAT takes 4 hours and 25 minutes in total

What Is the GAMSAT? 

The GAMSAT comprises three sections, as outlined below:

  • Section I: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences
    Section I requires students to complete 62 questions in 100 minutes, including 8 minutes of reading time. This section tests your understanding of basic scientific concepts and problem solving skills. 
  • Section II: Written Communication 
    Section II assesses your ability to logically express your thoughts in response to provided stimuli. It requires students to produce two essays in 65 minutes, including 5 minutes of reading time. 
  • Section III: Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences
    This section consists of multiple choice questions relating to either biology, chemistry or physics content, and examines your reasoning and problem-solving abilities. The sciences are tested disproportionately with biology and chemistry each weighted at 40% while physics questions only make up 20% of the section. This section allows students 150 minutes, including 8 minutes of reading time, to answer 75 questions. 

The GAMSAT 2023 has a registration fee of AU$515 and test results are valid for two years. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the GAMSAT. The ACER website has updated details regarding registration and sample questions. For more information, check out our article on What Is the GAMSAT?

How Is It Scored?

Each GAMSAT section is scored on an adjusted scale from 0 to 100 based on the exam cohort, to ensure consistency in GAMSAT score standards over the years. Your overall GAMSAT score is then determined through a weighted average of the three sections with Section III being weighted twice as heavily as the other two sections. The mean GAMSAT score sits at around 56-58. 

The mean GAMSAT score is 56-58

While most medical schools in Australia use the overall GAMSAT score to assess applicants, select universities, such as University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Queensland, award all three sections equal weighting. 

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

As of 2022, international students can usually choose between sitting the GAMSAT or MCAT to apply for a place at a graduate-entry medical school in Australia or New Zealand. The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

What Is the MCAT?

This examination requires students to complete 230 multiple choice questions derived from different medical disciplines that are split into four sections: (1) Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, (2) Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, (3) Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior and (4) Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.The MCAT is 6 hours and 15 minutes in length, excluding break time. 

The MCAT 2022 is set to be tested eight times in Australia. Tests are administered in two cycles: January to May 2022 and June to September 2022 with scores being released around 30-35 days after each test date. MCAT results usually remain valid for up to three years after the test has been taken.

The MCAT remains valid for up to three years

AAMC regulations only permit students to sit the MCAT a maximum of three times in one testing year, four times during two consecutive years and seven times in a lifetime. Initial registration costs US$325 with a surcharge of US$120 if you are sitting the examination outside of North America. The AAMC website has further details. 

How Is It Scored? 

Each of the four MCAT sections are scored on a scale from 118 to 132, with the summation of all four sections comprising the total score. Hence, MCAT scores can range from 472 to 528, with the mean and median scores being around 505.

The mean MCAT score is 505

So Which Exam Is Right for Me? 

If you’re an international student, you may be wondering which examination would better suit you. To make your decision a little easier, our experts have compiled a list of the pros and cons of both exams.

Take the GAMSAT if…

  • You prefer shorter, faster-paced exams. The GAMSAT is shorter in duration and takes 4 hours and 25 minutes to complete, with a break between Sections I and II but no break between Sections II and III.  The MCAT, on the other hand, takes longer to complete, lasting 6 hours and 15 minutes in total, with breaks in between each of its four sections. 
  • You are particularly strong in the biological and physical sciences. Your overall GAMSAT score is calculated by averaging the three sections, with Section III (Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences) having twice the weighting as the other two sections. On the contrary, your total MCAT score is simply the sum of your scores in all four of its sections. 
  • You wish to retake the exam multiple times. You can only sit the MCAT a maximum of three times in one testing year and seven times in a lifetime. The GAMSAT has no such testing restrictions as applicants can take the GAMSAT as many times as they wish.

Take the MCAT if…

  • You prefer answering multiple-choice questions over writing. The MCAT is composed solely of multiple-choice questions, unlike the GAMSAT that requires test-takers to produce essays as well. 
  • You want your results to be valid for a longer duration. Your MCAT score will usually be valid for around three years, while your GAMSAT score is only valid for a maximum of two years. 
  • You require more flexibility in selecting a test date. The MCAT is set to be offered eight times in Australia, whereas the GAMSAT is usually only offered twice a year.
There are pros and cons to taking either exam

MCAT vs. UCAT ANZ

The UCAT is another medical admissions test that ANZ universities also use, alongside the MCAT and the GAMSAT. For more information on the MCAT vs. UCAT or the UCAT vs. GAMSAT, check out our other articles on the blog.

FAQs

→What are GAMSAT and MCAT?

GAMSAT and MCAT are standardized admissions tests required for entry into graduate medical schools in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.

→Should I take GAMSAT or MCAT?

This ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and goals. The GAMSAT is typically used for admission into medical schools in Australia, Ireland, and the UK, while the MCAT is used for admission into medical schools in the US and Canada. If you are planning to attend medical school in Australia or the UK, then the GAMSAT is the appropriate exam to take.

→Is MCAT accepted in Australia?

No, the MCAT is not accepted for admission into medical schools in Australia. Graduate students applying to medical schools in Australia must take the GAMSAT.

→Is it hard to get 50 on GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT is a challenging exam, and achieving a score of 50 or above requires a lot of preparation and effort. The average score for the GAMSAT in Australia is around 57-58, and only a small percentage of test-takers score above 70.

→How long should you study for GAMSAT?

The length of time needed to study for the GAMSAT can vary depending on your prior knowledge and experience. However, most students prepare for several months, with some taking up to a year or more to study. According to the official GAMSAT website, it is recommended that students prepare for at least three to six months.

→How long is MCAT valid for in Australia?

The MCAT is not commonly used for entry into medical schools in Australia. Therefore, there is no set validity period for the MCAT in Australia.

→What countries use MCAT?

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is primarily used for admission into medical schools in the United States and Canada. Some medical schools in other countries, such as the Caribbean and Israel, may also accept MCAT scores.

→How much does GAMSAT cost?

The cost of the GAMSAT in 2023 is AUD $515 for standard registration and AUD $645 for late registration. There may be additional fees for special accommodations and other services.

→Can you get into medicine without GAMSAT?

Most universities in Australia require applicants to take the GAMSAT for entry into their graduate-entry medical programmes. It is best to check with individual universities for their specific admission requirements. Additionally, some universities may offer alternative pathways to medicine.

→Do I need to take GAMSAT or MCAT to apply for graduate medical schools in ANZ?

Yes, most graduate medical schools in Australia and New Zealand require applicants to take GAMSAT or MCAT as part of the admissions process.

→Can I take GAMSAT or MCAT multiple times?

Yes, you can take GAMSAT or MCAT multiple times, but it is important to check the policies of the graduate medical schools you are applying to regarding multiple test scores. Some schools may only consider the highest score, while others may average multiple scores.

→What is the difference between MCAT vs. UCAT?

Both the MCAT and the UCAT assess students’ knowledge and skills needed for medical school. The MCAT is split into four sections, which include both scientific understanding and critical reasoning skills. The UCAT is split into five sections, which assess (among others) students’ skills in reasoning, analysis and situational judgement, rather than subject knowledge. You need to check the university admissions requirements as to which admissions test you are required to sit.

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