Author: Hamed Shahnam
The main pathway for entering postgraduate medical school in Australia involves sitting an exam, interviewing and ensuring your academic marks are sufficiently high enough to meet the requirements for entrance. The first part of the entrance hurdle is often thought to be the scariest by many applicants. I’m referring to the GAMSAT aka, Graduate Medical School Admission Test. This is a full-day test with a small break for lunch. The exam is divided into three sections. Section 1 covers humanities and comprehension. Section two examines your capacity to develop two essays within a short period of time and thus examines your ability to write creatively and formulate logical essays under significant time pressure. The third section of GAMSAT assesses your understanding of biology, chemistry and physics. It is often stated that the level of understanding should reflect concepts taught in year 12 and first year university courses.
The GAMSAT is a challenging exam and we would encourage anyone who is interested in sitting the exam to research as much as they can about the exam. ACER, (the organisation that develops the exam) has also put together example questions, which we recommend purchasing to appreciate the type and nature of questions asked in the exam. There are also numerous preparation courses available in Australia. We also cautiously recommend enrolling into a preparation course. However, please be aware that quality of the preparation courses can vary significantly and we recommend extensive research prior to choosing a course. These courses can be very pricey and therefore you would want to invest in a reputable provider that has a good track record. These courses can provide you with a questions bank and also notes about key topics that have been examined in the past. We are not in a position to recommend a course but with some research you will get know the more reputable preparation courses out there.
Whilst preparing for GAMSAT it is important that you provide yourself with adequate time to prepare both by acquiring the knowledge that might be examined and attempting as many questions as possible. I also advise you to develop a vocabulary list, to read broadly and remain abreast with national and international current affairs. National and global events may guide the type of essay questions that you will be expected to write. Leading up to the exam you should begin practicing under exam conditions and time yourself to gain an understanding of how well you are performing and areas that warrant closer attention. I also suggest reading poetry and looking at New Yorker Cartoons as they can featured in GAMSAT.
The results of the exam will be made available around May. If your score is competitive and meets at the least the minimum requirements of your chosen universities we recommend starting the next phase of the application process. Graduate Entry Medical School Admission System (GEMSAS) is the organisation that coordinates the application process to the postgraduate universities with the exception of Sydney University. The application is very lengthy so be sure to allow plenty of time to complete the forms. You may also need to submit supporting documents for some of the universities. I believe for portfolio universities you can complete these through GEMSAS rather than visiting each university’s website for the portfolio application. Some universities (such as University of Notre Dame) will require you to complete a personal statement. Refer to their university website for more detail.
If you are applying to universities that require portfolio be sure to have thought about information you would like to include and contact your references who are supporting your portfolio ( you will need lots of references). You will then preference up to 6 universities. Your choice should be strategic but also reflect the city or university that you would like to study. Choice of university should also reflect the experiences that you would like to acquire during medical school. Some universities focus extensively on research, whilst others have more rural When I say strategic I’m referring to applying to universities that you will clearly meet their interview cut-off scores and the interview style that is suitable to you. You should also be prepared to move interstate.
Once the application has been submitted the anxious wait for the interview begins. The interview times for different universities vary but normally are held around September and early October. You will be only offered one interview at your university preference. If your first preference doesn’t accept you for an interview you will be passed along the list of your preferences. For the interview process refer to our guide on interviews