GAMSAT – My brush with a career in medicine

A little known personal detail is that back in 2009 I studied for and passed the GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test, also used in the UK and Ireland) examination. This was driven by the fact that I’d reached a crossroads in my career and I was considering my options.

In fact, as anyone who’s taken the GAMSAT will tell you, you have to be seriously considering a medical career to tackle this examination. Above all other tests I’ve faced, which is many, this was by far the most challenging.

If you’re unfamiliar with GAMSAT, it’s an examination for graduates seeking a career change and who are not already in possession of relevant science A Levels such as biology and/or chemistry.

This is particularly topical because the popularity of graduate entry is increasing. One of the key drivers is the need for more ‘home grown’ doctors, something which is being promoted heavily by the government.

Despite passing the GAMSAT exam, which had an 80% fail rate, I decided against a career in medicine. As will be obvious, I chose to return to my first love of tutoring.

In my case, I have a PhD in Physics from Cambridge University, and yet preparing for and sitting GAMSAT still proved to be an arduous six months or so of intensive studying.

You may be wondering why somebody with such in-depth Science qualifications found it so challenging. A key reason is that it takes what would normally take several years to learn, and condenses it to around half a year.

This concentration of time makes it hard enough, but even this doesn’t account for how far it can take one outside of one’s comfort zone.

A considerable focus of GAMSAT is to test the candidate’s reasoning skills and overall intellectual capacity. A career in medicine isn’t only about facts and figures after all. There’s a huge amount of communication skill required as well as the ability to continue to learn and to develop personally and professionally.

As well as the time involved, preparing for and sitting GAMSAT requires a significant financial investment. Of course, it’s possible to simply push through the mountains of information and study independently at home. This is the least expensive way to approach it.

Yet, the methods of studying for A Levels and the like don’t apply when it comes to GAMSAT. It’s for this reason that I’m glad I invested in professional tutoring and would advise others to do the same.

I am currently offering GAMSAT tuition services and if you are considering a career change, or indeed GAMSAT, do feel free to get in touch.