MCAT vs GAMSAT: What’s the Difference?

February 20, 2024

minute read

The MCAT and the GAMSAT are among the widely used and highly recognized admission tests required for getting into med school or taking up a higher medical degree course. 

The MCAT and GAMSAT are two different tests taken by med school applicants. 

So if you are confused about whether to take MCAT instead of GAMSAT and vice versa, then this write-up has the answers for you. 

This article will go through the different exam structures, exam fees, and other characteristics of MCAT and GAMSAT. We will give a comprehensive comparison between these two. 


What is the MCAT?

The MCAT is a computerized admission test that is regularly used and mandatory by most medical schools and universities that offer medical courses. The MCAT is recognized in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries worldwide.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is designed especially for these types of institutions by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

It aims to help these medical schools and universities to assess their applicants who want to pursue any medical profession. 

The test’s primary purpose is to assess the knowledge of pre-medical students in ChemistryPhysicsBiologyPsychology, and Sociology. These basic sciences are usually encountered when taking any medical course. 

The exam is also a great tool that will help them gauge the capabilities and knowledge of the aspiring medical student if it is ready and prepared to take up a medical course.

Moreover, the MCAT contains four test sections with an estimate of 230 multiple-test questions in all. 

The exam is known to be the longest and most difficult among the admission tests available, and it usually takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes to finish all the test sections.

The MCAT four test sections are: 

What is the GAMSAT?

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is an admission exam that is created by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in cooperation with GEMPASS Australia Limited.

Furthermore, the GAMSAT is a standardized exam used by universities, medical schools, and universities located specifically in Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

However, more and more countries, including Singapore and some states in the US, are now using and recognizing GAMSAT as a great assessment tool for graduate medical courses. It includes medicine, veterinary science, optometry, pharmacy, and dentistry courses. 

The objective of the exam is to help these institutions evaluate the skills and knowledge of incoming students who wish to continue any graduate entry medical courses or programs. 

The exam can be taken by individuals with no medical-related degree so long as one can pass the exam. 

The exam is computer-based and utilizes a multiple-choice type of questions and essay writing. It has three test sections that focus on the knowledge of basic concepts of science and mastery of problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and writing skills with 139 test questions.

In addition, the GAMSAT is 5 hours and 25 minutes long test and is only offered twice a year. 

The GAMSAT three test sections:

  • Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Written Communication
  • Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

MCAT vs. GAMSAT: What are the Similarities?

Regarding exam similarities, the MCAT and GAMSAT are similar in some areas and features. 

For example, these two exams are generally used by medical schools to evaluate the abilities and knowledge of their applicants. 

The test sections and questions focus on the different areas of sciences and also test certain abilities and skills which are highly required when taking up a medical course. 

The GAMSAT and MCAT are also quite similar in terms of their duration, which are longer than most admission exams, which only take about an hour or two. However, both of these exams are longer than two hours. 

In addition, both of these exams are computerized tests, and you can only register through online registration on their official websites.

Exam Format and Structure: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

These two exams, the MCAT and GAMSAT, are well-known to have distinct differences in test contents, exam length, structure, and test format. 

Regardless of their major differences, both the MCAT and GAMSAT are computer-based exams, making these exams more accessible to their test-takers. 

The MCAT has more prescheduled test dates (35 test schedules) available in a year compared to the GAMSAT, which is only offered twice annually. 

Comparing the duration of both exams, the MCAT is considered a very long test compared to GAMSAT since it takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes to take the whole exam. While the GAMSAT exam takes only around 5 hours and 25 minutes. 

For the number of test sections, the MCAT contains four test sections that focus primarily on the different branches of science, especially those related to the medical field. It has 230 test questions 

It is used by most medical institutions to evaluate the critical analysis skills and reasoning abilities of their incoming med students. 

In comparison, the GAMSAT has three test sections that center on biology, chemistry, physics, social sciences, humanities, and written communication, reflecting on how one organizes and delivers ideas effectively. This exam assesses an individual's abilities, general skills, content knowledge about basic sciences, problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities. 

The table below compares  the MCAT and the GAMSAT test structure and format, including their test frequency.

Exam Format and Structure

MCAT

GAMSAT

Test Sections

-Biological and Biochemical Foundations


-Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


-Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


-Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

-Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences


-Written Communication


-Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

Test Duration

Duration per test section:

 

90 to 95 minutes each 


Overall:


7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

Duration per test section:


Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences


-Reading time 10 minutes


-Writing time 100 minutes


Written Communication


-Reading time 5 minutes


-Writing time 60 minutes


Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences


-Reading time 10 minutes


-Writing time 170 minutes


Overall:

5 hours and 25 minutes with an additional of 1 hour break time

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

139 Test Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Writing Essays

Test Frequency

35 testing dates annually from January to September

With two schedules in a year

Test Delivery Mode

Computer-Based Test

Computer-Based Test

Scoring: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

These two exams highly differ in the scoring system they use. They have one similar feature wherein the MCAT and GAMSAT have their respective percentile ranking for the scaled scores. 

The MCAT's overall scoring system is between 472 to 528 points

All four test sections of the exam are added to the overall score, and the score points of these test sections are between 118 to 132 points.

All four test sections’ scores will be added to get an overall MCAT score that ranges from the MCAT scores can also be interpreted using the percentile ranks, which is an accumulated score from the previous test-takers of the MCAT. 

For the GAMSAT scoring, all the correct answers in each test section will be given a raw score. This raw score will be scaled accordingly, ranging from 100 to 0 points

It will be your official GAMSAT score, which is calculated using the Item Response Theory (IRT), which is a score analysis based on probability with given item parameters. 

All the scaled scores will be ranked using a percentile rank. This GAMSAT percentile rank is composed of scaled scores who took the one sitting of the exam.

MCAT Scoring

GAMSAT Scoring

Score Range Per Test Section:

118 to 132


Overall Score Range: 

472 to 528

Scaled Score Per Test Section:


100 to 0 points

Here is the MCAT Percentile Rank from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022. The table below reflects the MCAT overall scores from the given period with their corresponding percentile ranks. 

This percentile rank table can be used by the MCAT’s present test-takers to know the percentile ranking of their scores compared to previous test-takers.

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

472

<1%

Cell

491

19%

Cell

510

78%

473

<1%

Cell

492

21%

Cell

511

81%

474

<1%

Cell

493

24%

Cell

512

84%

475

<1%

Cell

494

27%

Cell

513

86%

476

1%

Cell

495

29%

Cell

514

88%

477

1%

Cell

496

32%

Cell

515

90%

478

1%

Cell

497

35%

Cell

516

92%

479

2%

Cell

498

38%

Cell

517

94%

480

3%

Cell

499

42%

Cell

518

95%

481

4%

Cell

500

45%

Cell

519

96%

482

4%

Cell

501

48%

Cell

520

97%

483

6%

Cell

502

52%

Cell

521

98%

484

7%

Cell

503

55%

Cell

522

99%

485

8%

Cell

504

58%

Cell

523

99%

486

9%

Cell

505

62%

Cell

524

100%

487

11%

Cell

506

65%

Cell

525

100%

488

13%

Cell

507

69%

Cell

526

100%

489

15%

Cell
508

72%

Cell

527

100%

490

17%

Cell

509

75%

Cell

528

100%

Here is the GAMSAT Percentile Ranking for the March 2022 exam sitting. It shows in the table below that most of the test-takers scored 59 points on the test, making it the 50th percentile score rank for all. 

Note that the GAMSAT percentile ranking differs in each exam sitting.

GAMSAT Overall Scaled Score

Percentile Rank

Description

59

50th

Average

65

75th

Generally Good

75

98th

Very High

Test Requirements: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

If you are planning to take either the MCAT or GAMSAT, you should know that you can only apply for these exams by online registration

The MCAT and GAMSAT do not have any other options for their registration process. They have the same process for registration, wherein you need to create an account on their official websites. 

In addition, the GAMSAT has a different set of accepted IDs for its Australia, Ireland, and UK test-takers. 

While the MCAT only has a set of IDs, they accept regardless of the location where one needs to take the exam. 

The detailed table below shows the differences between MCAT and GAMSAT with their respective test requirements. 

MCAT Test Requirements

GAMSAT Test Requirements

For Online Application


-Make an account on the AAMC website.


-Fill out the application questions and prompts on their website.


-Go to MCAT registration systems and follow the instructions given.


Present the following upon registration: 


1. Any government-issued IDs (must be valid and not expired)


2. ID must contain a clear photo of you.


3. ID must be in English.  


4. Accepted IDs include:


-Driver’s license


-Passport


-Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)


-Employment Authorization Document


-Canada Health Card (For Ontario and British Columbia only)


-Consular ID


-Canadian Aviation Card


5. Submit your academic transcripts 

(applicable for high school, undergraduate, and any post-graduate education). Also, it accepts unofficial transcripts but must reflect your full name.

For Registration Process: 


-Create a GAMSAT account on their official website.


-Follow all the instructions given on the website and wait for a confirmation email.


-Make sure all the information in the registration should match the identification document.


-Print the Admission Ticket.


Present the following upon registration:


1. Printed GAMSAT Admission Ticket 


2. Identification documents (with a clear picture)


3. Accepted IDs include:


-Passport


-Driver’s License with picture (Learner’s permit, Probationary, or Full license)


-Australian Keypass


-Australian Proof of Age Card


-The Kiwi Access Card


-EU/EEA National Identity Card


-Irish Public Services Card 

Test Costs: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

The MCAT costs USD 325 while the GAMSAT costs AUD 515

Both the MCAT and GAMSAT have different exam costs and currencies used for their payments. However, these two exams only accept payment from major credit cards. 

In the case of the GAMSAT, if you are living or registering from the United Kingdom, the exam fee will be around £268, and for those from Ireland, it costs around €341

The exam cost for the GAMSAT comes with an e-book copy of Practice Questions for the test. It is a good inclusion that will help test-takers prepare for the exam. 

In addition, the GAMSAT exam fee will be charged in AUD (Australian Dollars) for those taking the exam outside Ireland and the United Kingdom. While for the MCAT, the exam cost is still the same across all countries worldwide. 

For late registration fees, the MCAT will charge an additional USD 55 while the GAMSAT charges AUD 100, £60 for United Kingdom test-takers, and  €70 for those from Ireland.  

Below is a comprehensive table showing the cost differences and payment options of MCAT and GAMSAT. 


MCAT Fee

GAMSAT Fee

Payment Modes

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Only accept payment through online credit card payments (MasterCard, Visa)

Cost

USD 320

AUD 515

£268 (for the UK)

€341 (for Ireland)

Test Recognition: MCAT vs.  GAMSAT

These exams are recognized in various countries and medical institutions worldwide. The MCAT and GAMSAT are two popular exams commonly encountered by incoming medical students and medical professionals. 

The MCAT is an admission exam that is highly recognized by medical institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and other countries. 

In comparison, the GAMSAT is accepted in Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, and Washington D.C. 

Below are some universities in Australia that use the GAMSAT:
  • Australian National University
  • Deakin University
  • Flinders University
  • Griffith University
  • Macquarie University
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Notre Dame (Fremantle)
  • The University of Notre Dame (Sydney)
  • The University of Sydney
  • The University of Western Australia
  • The University of Wollongong

Below are some universities in Ireland that use the GAMSAT:

  • Royal College Of Surgeons in Ireland
  • University College Cork
  • University College Dublin
  • the University of Limerick

Below are some universities in Israel, the USA, and Singapore that use the GAMSAT:

  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel)
  • American University of the Caribbean (USA)
  • Duke-NUS Medical School

Below are some universities in Poland that use the GAMSAT:

  • Jagiellonian University Medical College
  • Poznan University of Medical Sciences

Below are some universities in the UK that use the GAMSAT:

  • Cardiff University
  • Keele University
  • Plymouth University
  • the University of Exeter
  • the University of Liverpool
  • St. George’s University of London
  • the University of Sunderland
  • The University of East Anglia
  • Swansea University
  • The University of Nottingham
  • Universities of St. Andrews and Dundee in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands (ScotGEM)
  • Ulster University
  • the University of Worcester

Below are some medical schools in Australia that require the MCAT:

  • Griffith Medical School
  • Melbourne Medical School
  • UQ Medical School
  • Sydney Medical School
  • McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine
  • Queen’s University School of Medicine
  • University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine
  • University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Howard University College of Medicine
  • University of South Alabama College of Medicine
  • New York Medical College
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
  • California Northstate University College of Medicine
  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • …and more.

Which is Easier: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

When we compare the difficulty level for these two exams, the MCAT is known to most of its test-takers as a very challenging one. It is because of the exam length, which roughly takes around 7 hours and more. 

The MCAT’s test questions are complex and need more intensive preparation. While the GAMSAT is also considered difficult on its own terms as the test sections are complicated, and there is also an essay part. 

However, the MCAT is much more complicated compared to the GAMSAT, thus making the latter exam easier than the MCAT.

Should You Take the MCAT vs. GAMSAT?

If you are not sure about which exam to take, you first need to consider your purpose in taking such exams. 

The MCAT and GAMSAT are the two most commonly taken exams by those who want a medical degree.  

For instance, if you intend to take the MCAT, you should know that it is suitable and required for admission to any medical school worldwide. It is an admission exam usually taken by sophomores or junior college students who want to pursue a medical degree. 

If you prefer to take the GAMSAT, you can do so if you intend to take up graduate medical courses. This exam is taken as a pre-requisite for higher-level or graduate medical courses and programs for health professionals.

Summary Table of Differences: MCAT vs. GAMSAT

Below is the table of differences between the MCAT and GAMSAT.


MCAT

GAMSAT

Test Sections

-Biological and Biochemical Foundations


-Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


-Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


-Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

-Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences


-Written Communication


-Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

Test Duration

7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

5 hours and 25 minutes with an additional of 1 hour break time

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

139 Test Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Writing Essays

Scoring System

Score Range Per Test Section:

118 to 132


Overall Score Range:

472 to 528

Scaled Score Per Test Section:

100 to 0 points

Test Frequency 

35 testing dates from January to September

With only two test schedules annually

Exam costs

USD 325

AUD 515

£268 (for the UK)

€341 (for Ireland)

Mode of Payment

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Only accepts payment through online credit card payments (MasterCard, Visa)

Additional FAQs – MCAT vs. GAMSAT

Is the GAMSAT Harder than the MCAT?

These two exams are quite different regarding their exam structure and contents. 

Both also vary in the topics covered in the exam, and the MCAT and GAMSAT also assess the different sets of skills and abilities. 

And for the degree of difficulty, the MCAT is much harder than the GAMSAT based on how long the exam is, plus the number of test sections and questions compared to the latter.

Is the GAMSAT like the MCAT?

The GAMSAT and MCAT are two different admissions exams used by medical institutions worldwide. 

Simply put, the MCAT is usually taken by undergraduate students who want to pursue a medical degree. 

While the GAMSAT is also an admission exam taken by medical professionals who want to pursue any medical graduate programs in medical or dental school.

Is the MCAT Accepted in Australia?

Yes, the MCAT is accepted and recognized in Australia. It is required by most medical institutions, especially for those international applicants who wish to study in the country. 

Also, the MCAT test score is valid in Australia for three years. 

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