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If you’re considering applying to graduate schools for medicine, you’ve probably come across their admissions requirements for standardized tests. Two popular tests used by medical schools are the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).
Both are tests that are designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of science concepts prerequisite to the study of medicine at the graduate level. It is hard to quantify whether one is easier than the other.
Rather, understanding the following differences between the MCAT and GAMSAT will enable you to make a more informed decision on which test is best for you:
The MCAT, developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges AAMC) is used by almost all U.S. medical schools, many Canadian schools and Duke-NUS in Singapore require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores.
Whereas, the GAMSAT, developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is primarily used by graduate-entry medical schools in Australia, UK and Ireland.
Do note that Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore accepts both MCAT scores and GAMSAT scores — there is absolutely no added advantage in taking one test over the other. If you are applying to Duke-NUS, here’s our advice: Familiarize yourself with the requirements of both tests and take the test you tend to score better in.
Related: Duke-NUS Application Guide
Sections & Content
|Test Type||Computer based test - Multiple-choice questions||Paper based test - Multiple-choice questions + 2 Essays|
|Test Sections||4 Sections - Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills||3 Sections - Reasoning in Humanities and Social Science, Written Communication and Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences|
|Knowledge Required||Higher level of background knowledge as the content covered includes a stronger emphasis on sciences. Prior knowledge of University Year 1 Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Introductory Physics, General Chemistry, Introductory Biology and Introductory Psychology is expected.||Requires up to grade 12 Physics, University Year 1 Biology and University Year 1 Chemistry.|
Both the MCAT and GAMSAT are incredibly long tests that require immense amounts of stamina.
The MCAT has 6 hours 15 min of testing time and lasts a total of 7 hours 30 min hours inclusive of breaks.The GAMSAT is shorter as it has 4 hours 45 min of testing time and lasts a total of 5 hours 15 min inclusive of one lunch break.
With the MCAT, there are breaks between each of the four sections but with the GAMSAT, there is a break between Section 2 and 3, and no break between Section 1 and 2.
On the GAMSAT, each of the three sections is scored from 0 to 100 and the overall score is derived from a weighted average of three section scores, with Section III having twice the weighting. Hence, the total score ranges between 0 and 100 as well, with a mean of 57. GAMSAT scores are released within 2 months of the test date and are usually valid for 2 years.
On the MCAT, each of the four sections is scored from 118 to 132. The total score is the sum of all four section scores. Hence, it ranges from 472 to 528, with the mean and median at 500. The MCAT scores are released within 1 month of the test day and are also valid for a longer period of time, around 3 – 4 years depending on the university.
GAMSAT tests are usually held twice a year (March and September). There are more available test dates for the MCAT (Jan-Sept) as it is offered several times a year. Hence, the MCAT offers greater flexibility and is easier to retake the test in the same year if necessary.
Related: About the MCAT
Related: About the GAMSAT
Prep Zone Academy Beginners Course
Having worked with hundreds of MCAT & GAMSAT candidates every year, there’s simply no ‘one size fits all’ approach to prep for the admissions tests. Prep Zone Academy’s Beginners Course aims to get you up to speed on your pre-requisite sciences based on your current performance level.
Highly recommended for candidates who did not take the pre-requisite science courses in undergrad or need a refresher!
Still wondering which test you should take?
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