Preparing a GEMSAS application can feel overwhelming even if you are familiar with the Australian tertiary school system. There are a lot of medical school requirements to consider, along with place quotas, GPA calculations, and interview preparation. If you do not have the right information, you can miss out on an offer. This blog goes over everything you need to know to prepare a strong GEMSAS application, ace the interview, and gain admission to your preferred medical school.
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What is GEMSAS?
Graduate Entry Medical School Admissions System (GEMSAS) is an online matching system for applicants to Australian graduate-entry medical schools administered by Graduate Entry Medical Program Application & Selection Service (GEMPASS). It’s a centralized system that allows students to submit a single application, rank three to six medical schools, choose the types of “places” or fee structure they will be prepared to accept, and then the algorithm matches them to a school for which they are eligible and that still has room for the type of offer the student selected. . There is an initial match for an interview with one school and, eventually, a subsequent match for an offer of a place at the school. GEMSAS also manages applications for the University of Melbourne’s Dentistry and Optometry programs. The selection is based on the ranked lists, applicants’ information, and school’s quotas (i.e., number of spots available for each offer type or “place”).
Ten of the nineteen medical schools in Australia are members of GEMPASS. They are listed below:
- Australian National University
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of Notre Dame (Fremantle)
- The University of Notre Dame (Sydney)
- The University of Queensland
- The University of Western Australia
- Deakin University
- Griffith University
- Macquarie University
- Wollongong University
To be part of the GEMSAS match, you must have completed or be in the final year of a bachelor or honors degree from a commonwealth accredited institution. If you completed your undergraduate degree outside of Australia, you need to make sure it is recognized by the NOOSR (National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition) as equivalent to an Australian bachelor’s degree. There is no preference given to specific majors or types of undergraduate degrees, but you should check the medical school prerequisites of the schools you intend on listing as they may have required courses. For example, the University of Queensland's MD program requires that applicants complete tertiary level subject prerequisites in cell biology and systems physiology. Furthermore, institutions require that your degree be completed in the last ten years unless a postgraduate study is undertaken in the meantime.
The process is a bit different for non-traditional medical school applicants. If you have completed or are enrolled in a two-year degree, an embedded degree (bachelor’s/master’s), conversion degree, or if you've completed a higher degree without having a bachelor's degree, then you should consult your chosen schools for eligibility. Not every school accepts these degrees, but a few institutions use postgraduate qualifications in GPA calculations. Make sure you read your preferred schools' entries in the Admissions Guides.
Please note that international applicants are not eligible for the GEMSAS match. They will need to submit their GAMSAT or MCAT scores and other supporting documents directly to the university of their choice.
Looking for tips on how to get into med school as a non-traditional applicant? Check these out:
Application process & documents
Deciding on when to start your medical school applications is always tricky. A lot of components require long-term preparation and others can only be acquired during specific times of the year, which is why designing a medical school application timeline is essential for your success. We’ve provided a rough timeline to give you an idea of what application components you should be working on and what key dates to keep in mind. Please keep in mind that this is only a rough guide and you should always check the GEMPASS website for the most up to date deadlines.
Every application through GEMSAS needs a valid GAMSAT score to be considered. GAMSAT stands for The Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test and is very similar to the MCAT for international candidates. The first thing that you need to remember is that GAMSAT scores are only valid for two years after the examination date. This means that you should plan this carefully in your timeline. Typically, the GAMSAT exam can be taken twice a year, in March and September. We recommend that you sit for the exam in March of the year before you plan on applying to schools. Taking care of this requirement early gives you more time to focus on the other components of your application, and it also gives you the possibility of retaking the GAMSAT if you feel that your score was not up to par. There is no restriction to the number of times you can sit GAMSAT, provided that you meet the eligibility requirements.
GAMSAT exams are developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and GEMPASS Australia for students who are interested in pursuing advanced studies in the health sector. The exam evaluates the students’ mastery and ability to use basic science concepts and more general problem-solving, critical thinking, and writing skills. You do not need to have an undergraduate degree in a scientific field to sit for the exam, but it should be noted that you need to have some knowledge of biological and physical sciences to do well on the exam.
There are three sections on the GAMSAT exam:
Your results show a score for each of the three sections and an overall score. The traditional overall score that you will receive on results day weights section 3 twice as much as sections 1 and 2, but different institutions place different levels of importance on the different sections. For example, The University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, and the University of Queensland consider the mean average of the individual scores across the three sections. So, make sure you are prepared to handle each section of the exam.
The GAMSAT website provides several preparation materials with practice questions and answers that can be very useful. They also recommend that you obtain or review first-year university chemistry and biology texts and A-Level/Year 12 school physics texts to prepare for the third section of the exam. For sections 1 and 2, we recommend that you read as much as possible. Read different humanities subjects and social science texts. It would help if you used strategies similar to those used to review MCAT CARS and improve MCAT reading comprehension, focusing on critical thinking and understanding different kinds of texts.
Your Grade Point Average (GPA) is a weighted mean of all of your grades in the final three years of your undergraduate degree. GEMSAS uses a formula that all participating schools have agreed upon to calculate your GPA for your application. That said, there are some discrepancies in how different institutions calculate this weighted mean, so you may see or hear some variations in your GPA when you interview with different schools. If you want to determine your GPA for each of your chosen schools, you will need to follow the general GEMSAS guidelines and then apply the school’s variation as indicated in their admissions guide.
You should always put your best foot forward and strive to have the highest GPA possible, but if you feel like your GPA isn’t as high as it could be, don’t fret. It is possible to get into medical school with low GPA. Much like with GAMSAT scores, the different schools have varying medical school GPA requirements. It is crucial to thoroughly read the admissions guide entry of every school to see which one would be best for you. For example, the University of Queensland has not given much importance to GPA in the past few years. So, if you feel like you aced the GAMSAT, but your GPA is not very competitive, then you should consider ranking UofQ in your list.
Interested in tips on how to get into medical school with a low GPA? Take a look at this video:
Many Australian universities are part of the Automated Results Transfer System (ARTS) which allows your academic transcripts to be automatically gathered by GEMSAS directly, and they will be able to calculate your GPA. However, if your university is not on the ARTS list, then you are responsible for getting your original transcripts to GEMSAS. This is usually the case with any exchange programs or if you completed your undergraduate degree in a different country. You should find out if your university is on the ARTS list before you start preparing your application to avoid any delays. If any part of your transcript is not in English, you still need to submit the original academic transcript to GEMSAS; you will simply need to make sure a translation accompanies it.
Certain universities may ask for additional supporting documents that will become a part of your application portfolio. The portfolio would be considered alongside all of your other information like the GEMSAT score and GPA. The school will determine the exact weight it carries for your application. The portfolio will usually include items like a personal statement or an additional exam that the school requires applicants to sit for. This information will be mentioned in the admissions guide of the school.
For example, the University of Notre Dame, both the Sydney and Fremantle campus, has asked applicants to write a personal statement in the past. It’s important to remember that additional documents like a medical school personal statement are supposed to add to your application, not repeat information that the school can find in the other components of your application. Think of your personal statement as an essay that is meant to answer the following question: “Why do you want to be a doctor?”. Remember to highlight the qualities that will make you stand out and that are in line with the school’s values. Notre Dame is a catholic university that emphasizes ethics and service, so you may want to showcase qualities and experiences that demonstrate your propensity for compassion and respect.
On the other hand, the University of Wollongong has included the CASPer test in their admission requirements in previous years. CASper is a situational judgment test that is becoming increasingly popular. Although the school has not come out to say exactly how much weight this application component will carry, you should do everything you can to learn how to prepare for CASPer. Give yourself enough time to prepare for it and consider investing in a CASPer test prep course to improve your chances of getting called for an interview.
The tertiary education system is heavily regulated and subsidized by the government in Australia. This means that the process of applying to medical school isn't as straightforward as it is in the US or Canada, for example. GEMSAS medical schools receive a fixed amount of funding, and so there are different tiers of payment contracts that a student can enter into with a medical school. There are only a limited number of spots or “places” available for each fee structure. The GEMSAS match requires students to rank the schools they are interested in and the type of “place” they are willing to accept. All students have to consider the implications of the payment contract they are choosing as it will affect the amount of debt they would have and their general financial wellbeing. There are three main fee structures that the GEMSAS medical schools offer:
All of the participating schools conduct interviews. The GEMSAS algorithm will match you with a school for interviews based on your eligibility and the school quota. The interviews will either be structured or in the form of Multi Mini Interviews (MMI). Most people are pretty familiar with structured interviews. They are either conducted by a single interviewer or a panel of interviewers who will ask each applicant the exact same set of questions and score them based on the answers. The MMI format is not as well-known, so if you are wondering how to prepare for MMI, rest assured you are not alone. In summary, there will be a few stations with one or more interviewers waiting for you. They will all ask you a question or give you a task and give you a score based on your response.
We do not recommend waiting for the interview invitation to start preparing. You should begin reviewing common medical school interview questions and MMI questions as soon as you apply to maximize your chances of doing well. The interview is your chance to make a good impression and tell the school about the person behind all the numbers. You will only be interviewed by one school, but your interview scores are standardized and put back into the GEMSAS system for all the other participating schools to see. This means that even if the school you interviewed with does not extend an offer, a different school can. Getting a high interview score can make all the difference.
Need to prepare for an MMI and wondering what kinds of questions you might face and how to answer them? This video is for you:
Offers & Admission
Matchday is typically in early November. If you were matched with a school, you will receive an offer letter for a medical school place. The letter will have all the information you need to accept or decline the offer, as well as details about your admission. If your academic results are not available yet, your offer will be conditional. You will only receive admission if you maintain the specified GPA and complete your undergraduate degree.
You will be given a specific time frame to accept or decline the place that you’ve been offered. GEMSAS schools only extend the one offer during an application cycle. This means that if you decline an offer, you will not be eligible to participate in further offer rounds that year. You will need to apply again next year or to the school directly if possible.
Students who did not get a match will receive a notification from GEMSAS. The first round is the big one, but if schools have vacancies after the deadline to accept offers, then additional offers will be made to the previously unsuccessful candidates. If you do not get any offers at all, you may apply again the following year.
1. What is GEMSAS?
GEMSAS is a computer matching system that allows students to apply to multiple medical schools at once by ranking 3 to 6 of the schools they wish to attend and the kind of offer they are willing to accept. The GEMSAS algorithm assesses them against the school’s criteria and matches them for an interview first and eventually a medical school place.
2. How does GEMSAS work?
Applicants rank three to six medical schools they want to attend and indicate the types of offers they would be prepared to accept. GEMSAS assesses the applicants against the criteria of the schools they have chosen to match them for an interview. Students receive a standardized score after the interview, and a new round of matches occurs but this time for admission offers at a medical school.
3. I am an international student. Can I use the GEMSAS program to match with a med school in Australia?
International applicants are not eligible for GEMSAS. They may apply to the university of their choice directly.
4. Can the university see my preference list?
No, they cannot. This is a common myth, but GEMSAS only works if medical schools do not have access to a student’s preference listing.
5. What’s a good GEMSAT score?
75% of students score between 61-64 on the GAMSAT. Any score higher than this would be considered a good score, but of course, the higher your score, the better.
6. Does GEMSAS match students to universities for any programs other than medicine?
GEMSAS also handles applications to the University of Melbourne Dentistry and Optometry programs.
7. What are the types of medical school place?
There are three main types of medical school places or fee structures: Bonded Medical Place, Commonwealth Supported Non-bonded Place, and Full Fee-Paying Place.
8. What happens if I don’t get an offer after interviews?
If you do not get an offer on matchday, you should be patient. Medical schools who still have vacancies may select other students after the offer acceptance deadline. If you do not get any offers at that point, then you should prepare a stronger application and apply again next year.
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