1. GEMSAS Orientation
1a. What is GEMSAS?
If you are considering applying to graduate entry medicine or dentistry programs in Australia, there is one centralised online portal where your application gets lodged; the Graduate Entry Medical Schools Admission System (GEMSAS). The GEMSAS system allows you to preference from three to six medical schools, then uses complex matching algorithms to allocate interviews and offers based on your eligibility and highest preferred medical school. You will be ranked and selected for interviews according to your performance in the following:
3. Portfolio and/or personal statement if required
5. Bonus scores
All of such will be addressed in this guide. While it might seem overly complicated, this ensures that applications are a fair and standardised process.
1b. Who Runs GEMSAS?
GEMSAS is run by the GAMSAT consortium, which is comprised of 10 out of the 13 post-graduate medical schools in Australia. Below you will find the universities in order of distance from the Fraser’s HQ in Melbourne.
- University of Melbourne https://study.unimelb.edu.au/find/courses/graduate/doctor-of-medicine/
- Deakin University http://www.deakin.edu.au/course/doctor-medicine
- Australian National University http://medicalschool.anu.edu.au/study/degrees/mchd
- University of Wollongong https://smah.uow.edu.au/medicine/index.html
- University of Notre Dame (Sydney) https://www.notredame.edu.au/about/schools/sydney/medicine
- Macquarie University https://www.mq.edu.au/about/about-the-university/faculties-and-departments/medicine-and-health-sciences
- Griffith University https://www.griffith.edu.au/study/health/medicine
- University of Queensland https://future-students.uq.edu.au/study/program/Doctor-of-Medicine-5578
- University of Western Australia https://www.uwa.edu.au/study/courses/doctor-of-medicine
- University of Notre Dame (Fremantle) https://www.notredame.edu.au/about/schools/fremantle/medicine
There are three other medical schools that offer graduate entry medical programs, but are not part of GEMSAS such as the University of Sydney, Flinders University and Monash University. Both the University of Sydney and Flinders University require the GAMSAT exam and a direct application. Since 2017, Monash University removed the GAMSAT requirement as part of their admissions criteria and applicants must have completed one of Monash’s undergraduate degrees in order to apply.
1c. What Will GEMSAS Do With Your Application?
As mentioned earlier, GEMSAS requires you to submit a single online application and a preference list of up to six medical schools. Undergraduate degree transcripts will be transferred electronically if your university is a participant of the Automated Results Transfer System (ARTS). A computer algorithm will match you to interview allocations based on eligibility and ranking within the applicant cohort using individual selection rules specific to each medical school. Interview scores are standardised and incorporated into the system which then follows a second computer matching algorithm to allocate offers based on overall performance and preference.
1d. Timeline of Your Application
|30 April – GEMSAS Medicine Applications open.|
3 May – University of Melbourne and Macquarie University submissions due.
25 May – Flinders University Applications Open
28 May – Online GAMSAT Begins
2 June – Last Day of Online GAMSAT
4 June – USyd QAS Application Deadline
7 June – Supporting documents to be posted to GEMSAS.
11 June – GEMSAS Applications Close
26 June – Flinders University Applications Close
|Early July – GAMSAT Results Released|
Early September – Offers of interview
Mid-late September – Interviews held
|Early October- Interviews held|
|November||December||January (2021)||February (2021)|
|Early November – Offers for Medicine Released||Additional offers|
2a. GAMSAT Housekeeping
GAMSAT stands for the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test. It is a test that you have likely completed before coming to this stage of applications. It is important to note that every domestic medical application through GEMSAS must have a valid score in the GAMSAT in order to be considered for admission into any graduate-entry medical program. GAMSAT scores are valid for 2 years following the test date. This means that if you sat the test in May of 2020, your score is valid to apply for schools in May of 2020 (for 2021 intake), and also the year after in May 2021 (for 2022 intake). If you are to gain a GAMSAT score in September of 2020, the score will be valid for applications in May 2021 (for 2022 intake) and the year after in May 2022 (for 2023 intake).
2b. Different University GAMSAT Section Weighting
GAMSAT score breakdown across the three sections (S1, S2, S3) are really important for ensuring that your GEMSAS application is as strong as possible. The section score breakdown is important because different institutions place different emphasis on the weighting of S3. For instance, The University of Melbourne, Sydney, and Queensland take the mean average of the individual scores across the three sections. All other universities in the GEMSAS consortium use the traditional GAMSAT section weighting system, which weights S3 twice as much as S1 and S2. This is the score that you would have received on GAMSAT results day. Let’s use an example to demonstrate why weighting matters:
Jill is a hypothetical student with a background in Law. She performed extremely well in S1 and S2, achieving scores of 72 and 70 respectively, but performed comparatively poorly in S3 with a score of 60. Let’s see the difference between the two weighting systems.
The scenario can be reversed if a person is disproportionately strong in S3, or particularly poor in either S1 or S2. If there is any single weak score in S1 or S2 with a reasonable S3, it is reasonable that the applicant favours institutions that use the traditional GAMSAT score instead of the Mean Average of section scores. Given that medical applications are increasing in competitiveness each year, it is imperative that student’s applications reflect their strengths. Finally, and most importantly, different institutions can have dramatic variations in the ranges of GAMSATs that they accept.The scenario can be reversed if a person is disproportionately strong in S3, or particularly poor in either S1 or S2. If there is any single weak score in S1 or S2 with a reasonable S3, it is reasonable that the applicant favours institutions that use the traditional GAMSAT score instead of the Mean Average of section scores. Given that medical applications are increasing in competitiveness each year, it is imperative that student’s applications reflect their strengths. Finally, and most importantly, different institutions can have dramatic variations in the ranges of GAMSATs that they accept.
Although similar, there is a degree of variation that occurs each year depending on the application pool.
Put simply, GPA stands for Grade Point Average, which is a weighted mean of all of your grades achieved in the final 3 years equivalent of full-time Bachelor level study.
Although it is important to remember that there are discrepancies at times between how certain universities calculate GPA, and as such it is important to take note of where these lie. Should you be interested further, we encourage you to visit the GEMSAS website and look into the minutiae of GPA calculations across the spectrum of universities.
There is absolutely no advantage or disadvantage conferred by the course or institution in which your degree is achieved. Institutions do, however, require that the degree was completed in the last 10 years, unless postgraduate study has been undertaken in the meantime. Where postgraduate study has been undertaken, it is dependent on the university as to whether or not they use it in the calculation of the GPA. Much like GAMSAT, each institution can vary in the way they that they consider your GPA. The general rule is that the last three years of academic study are used. In the instance where a previous degree was four years long, or had an additional honours year embedded or attached, the GPA calculation would involve the final three years of study, and therefore exclude first year from the GPA calculation.
Important Honours Information: The Universities of Melbourne and Western Australia require Honours to be completed by mid-year for it to feature in the calculation of your GPA. Additionally, Griffith university requires Honours to be completed for it to be used in any GPA calculation. In situations where Honours subjects are available, institutions may either consider the overall Honours grade, as is the case for the University of Queensland, or only consider Honours subjects as is the case for the University of Melbourne, Deakin, and Macquarie.
3a. GPA Calculations
The GPA is calculated in different ways for different institutions. The most common breakdown is shown below:
Final Average GPA Year (most recent) = Weighted x3
Final-1 Average GPA Year (2nd most recent) = Weighted x2
Final-2 Average GPA Year (3rd most recent) = Weighted x1
The resultant ‘average’ is calculated by dividing the sum of the weighted products by 6. This will factor the weightings across the three years of study to give an overall GPA. This is the classical method of GPA calculation that GEMSAS offers on their website where there is a high degree of emphasis placed on the latter years of study. However, there are several institutions that calculate GPA differently, such as the University of Melbourne:
Final Average GPA Year (most recent) = Weighted x2
Final-1 Average GPA Year (2nd most recent) = Weighted x2
Final-2 Average GPA Year (3rd most recent) = Weighted x1
Additionally, the University of Western Australia weights each year of FTE the same. The University of Queensland deserves a separate mention because it does not require a competitive GPA, just that it is greater than 5.0. These calculations are an additional useful tool to consider which universities are going to look favourably upon your scores.
3b. What on Earth is FTE?
In reference to study load, you may have encountered the acronym ‘FTE’, which stands for Full-Time [tertiary study] Equivalent. What FTE is generally talking about is the minimum fraction of study load that particular institutions require in the first semester of the final year of study. This is likely carried out to prevent excessive under-loading during applications that may unfairly advantage people that take no classes while applying. Furthermore, it ensures that you are capable of meeting the study demands of a medical course. If you are under-loading, the important numbers to be aware of are 37.5% FTE for the Universities of Melbourne, Wollongong, and the Australian National University and greater than 25% for Deakin and the University of Western Australia. Again, it has to be said, don’t apply if you do not meet the requirements as this is a wasted preference. Therefore, a minimum of two subjects are required to be taken in the final semester in order to achieve >25% FTE. Do not apply to institutions if you do not satisfy their requirements.
The portfolio is an essential component of the University of Notre Dame (Sydney and Fremantle) and the University of Wollongong applications. The portfolio is considered along with GPA and GAMSAT, although the precise weighting of the portfolio for each institution is unknown. The bottom line is that a person with a weak portfolio in content or presentation will have difficulty gaining admission to one of such universities with a very strong applicant pool demonstrated year by year. That being said, the additional requirement adds another dimension to an application, reducing the overall emphasis placed on the GPA and GAMSAT alone.
In order to have a chance with either Notre Dame or Wollongong, you need to know what the universities stand for, what qualities they look for, and how you can contribute to the university as an individual. Below are introductions to each of the universities in order to get an idea of what to focus on in your portfolios. It includes the university objectives and themes, how the curriculum is structured, and what makes an ideal candidate.
5. Portfolio Universities
5a. University of Notre Dame:
The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic institution with two different medical schools located in Sydney and Fremantle. The Objects of the university emphasise delivering an education within the context of Catholic values as well as providing excellence in teaching, scholarship and research. It welcomes applicants from all backgrounds regardless of social, religious, or political views. Following the Catholic intellectual tradition, all medical students are expected to complete core curriculum subjects in the form of intensive Bioethics.
Ideal candidates have ethical and service-based values such as compassion, respect and social justice. Each applicant is expected to demonstrate dedication to and understanding of the university Objects. The comprehensive program provides training in clinical practice and applied research incorporating bioethics to deliver holistic care.
5b. University of Wollongong:
The University of Wollongong is a multidisciplinary institution with a research-intensive and rurally-focused medical school. The program prepares doctors to work in diverse settings across rural, regional and remote areas in Australia and international sites. Students will be exposed to a wide range of challenges including the social determinants of health and Indigenous Health.
The university selects high performing graduate students from diverse backgrounds. Domestic applicants will be assessed on whether they currently living in a rural setting or have significant ties to rural residency and schooling. The university places high emphasis in evidence-based, patient-centred care with enthusiasm for rural practice. Students will receive a broad education with a focus on rural medicine and skills to train in any specialty and geographical setting.
6a. The Notre Dame Personal Statement
Notre Dame has a different addition to the portfolio in the form of the personal statement, whereby you must outline your reasons for pursuing medicine, as well as outline why Notre Dame is the right university to help you achieve your calling. The personal statement will be considered along with your portfolio, GPA and GAMSAT to rank for interview. It is essential that you are able to distinguish yourself as a committed, capable candidate with an understanding of the university’s values to be competitive. Keep an eye out for the Fraser’s Portfolio Guide for more information.
6b. The Wollongong CASPer
CASPer is a video scenario-based, situational judgement test used to gauge an applicant’s personal and professional traits suited for a career in medicine. Traits that are selected for include communication, empathy, and ethics. In turn, the test aims to provide additional weight to a strong applicant that may not be as academically competitive while remaining objective. UoW has yet to make clear to the public how they will use the CASPer test when considering interview or position offers.
See our video for more information!
And if you are confident that you are going to apply to UOW, ensure that you have registered for CASPer, which is accessible by the link: https://takecasper.com
7. Types of University Place
It can be a real challenge to get your head around the types of places available. Below you will find a breakdown of the types of places that are offered through GEMSAS. Put simply, a Commonwealth supported non-bonded place (CSP) is a no strings attached medical place. The price is heavily subsidised by the Commonwealth government and there is no demand whatsoever to practice rurally unless you choose to do so.
Commonwealth supported places also come in a bonded variety, termed the BMP. The BMP is the same cost as the CSP with the addition that you are expected to practice rurally for a predefined period. Currently the BMP Scheme requires the recipient to spend a minimum of 1 year in an area of workplace shortage. For the 2020 intake (and likely going forward), the bonded rural period will be 3 years with flexibility when and how that time is allocated. It is believed that by encouraging future doctors out into the country, the government can address the current and future workforce shortages that exist around rural and remote Australia.
The domestic full-fee place (FEE) is the third major place offered to domestic applicants. It is not supported by the Commonwealth government financially but is identical to the CSP in that it is a no strings attached medical place. Costs for FEE places vary between institutions, Notre Dame FEE places cost around $35,000 per year, while FEE places at Melbourne for the 2020 intake will cost an average of around $80,000 per year.
Relevance to Internship: A common myth is that a FEE place will not be ranked equally to CSPs and BMPs for an internship. A FEE place will NOT affect the way that you are ranked for an internship. At the moment, every domestic place offers the same opportunities with respect to your application for an internship. Until recently, Macquarie University did not have guaranteed internship positions available for their graduates. The university has indicated that now all Australian Citizen graduates of New South Wales medical schools will be given internships upon graduating.
7a. Financial Planning
While the cost of a FEE place is high, in instances such as with Notre Dame the FEE-HELP loan can be used by an Australian or New Zealander, subject to residency requirements. At the moment, the FEE-HELP limit is set at $152,000 (including all HECS-HELP from prior degrees) for medicine, which more than covers the full cost of a Notre Dame FEE place for 4 years. All other universities FEE places will exceed the FEE-HELP limit, meaning additional payment contributions would need to be covered should you wish to pursue a place. It is critical that if you are not financially positioned to pay for a full-fee place that you don’t select that option in your application. If you are successful with an application that you are unable to pay for, you will be ineligible for any place at other universities in your preference list that year. It is completely reasonable to want to preference a CSP at all universities ahead of FEE places, but it is necessary to bare in mind that the GEMSAS system is not built in such a way that permits this flexibility to preference around FEE spots – you either apply for a FEE place at a university, or you do not. One way of getting around this issue can be seen below:
Jim had just finished undergrad in Sydney, where he took out a HECS-HELP loan. Since he did not have any FEE-HELP debt, he could take out a 152-thousand-dollar loan from the government so he could apply for a school such as Notre Dame, Sydney. Having read the Frasers Application Guide, he knew that if he ranked Notre Dame as preference 1 with a FEE place listed he may miss out on a CSP or BMP at other universities that were listed below it. To get around this, he placed Notre Dame as preference 5. As all the other FEE places were outside of what Jim could afford, he did not list the full-FEE option in his application preferences as to not spoil his chance of receiving an offer from another school. Good on ya, Jim! Domestic applications are ranked with the top applicants offered a CSP, the next ranked applicants offered a BMP, and the remainder of successful applicants being offered FEE places. While it’s frustrating to think financially, it’s really important to be honest with yourself so you don’t waste an application cycle by receiving an offer that is out of your price-range.
In order to optimise your preferences for a successful application, it is important to note how the GPA, GAMSAT, and portfolio/statement/CASPer scores work together for YOUR application. Every application will have different strengths and weaknesses, so it is up to you to apply to institutions that are going to take more notice of the things that make you a strong applicant. If your GAMSAT is very strong, there is a reduced incentive to apply to a portfolio university where there is a possibility of losing emphasis from GAMSAT in the weighting of your application. Conversely, if GAMSAT is weaker, an additional marked portfolio may be what is required to tip the balance in your favour.
Griffith, Deakin and ANU Bonuses
Both Deakin and ANU will boost their consideration of your GPA and GAMSAT in light of a few circumstances.
Deakin is a unique institution in that they overtly preference applicants who have a background in healthcare, a history of study at Deakin, residence in the Geelong area, or substantial financial disadvantage. Financial disadvantage gives an applicant an additional 2% in their application. A background in healthcare gives a bonus of 4% and an additional bonus of 2% should the applicant have also practised for a period of 1 year. Additionally, there is also a general employment bonus of 2% if you have worked for an equivalent of 2 years in any field full-time, and a 4 – 8% bonus depending on your location of residence. Finally, Deakin alumni receive a 4% bonus on their application. *(Phew..)*
Australian National University awards a 2% bonus for the completion of honours or masters and 4% for the completion of a PhD.
Griffith will award an instant 7.0 GPA to anyone with a PhD and a maximum GPA for each year of a full-time Masters course by research.
You should note that if you have these bonuses available, that puts you at an advantage in the application pool. Conversely, if you are ineligible for these bonuses you have harder competition to contend with.
8b. Debunking Myths
You may have heard along the grape-vine that your preference order is passed onto the respective universities and that it plays a part in determining whether or not a university offers you an interview or not. If so, it is important to take note that this is unfounded and implausible. If a medical school were to be privy to a student’s preference listing, it would break the system. For all intents and purposes, you should assume that medical schools only look out for their own best interests, and choose students with the best ranking, irrespective of preference order.
As such, when deciding on the order of your preferences, the main things to take into account are 1) whether or not you have a feasible chance of getting into that university, and 2) if you would be happy to attend that university. That is all. Just remember, do your best not to waste any spots on your preference list, and hope that it works in your favour.
9. Selection for Interview
Interview selection for graduate-entry medicine is based on performance in four major categories:
1. Performance in GAMSAT – with variable calculations on an institutional basis
2. Performance in GPA – with variable calculations on an institutional basis
3. Performance in portfolio (UNDS, UNDF, UOW)
4. Performance in personal statement (UNDs, UNDF)
5. Performance in scenario-based test (UOW)
Think carefully about where you apply based on your strengths, what is reasonable within the parameters of your scores, and also importantly, your personal preference.
9a. Table 1. University Specific Selection for Interview
Below is a summary of how the different GEMSAS medical schools assess eligibility for interviews.
The University of Melbourne
|Combination of GPA and GAMSAT. The GPA is weighted for Deakin. The University of Melbourne uses a Mean GAMSAT Score.|
The Australian National University
The University of Western Australia
|Uses both Traditional GAMSAT and standard GPA when ranking applicants for interview.|
|Griffith University||Ranks applicants for interview derived from a 50/50 combination of unweighted GPA (converted to a percentage) and the overall GAMSAT score.|
|The University of Queensland||Uses a 25% GPA and 75% unweighted GAMSAT score. Applicants are then ranked for interview.|
|The University of Wollongong||Performance in the CASPer test used as a hurdle, applicants then ranked on combined GPA, GAMSAT results and portfolio.|
|University of Notre Dame, Australia (Fremantle) University of Notre Dame, Australia (Sydney)||Rank applicants on combined GPA, GAMSAT results and portfolio/written submission|
|Macquarie University||Personal statement as a hurdle, then applicants are ranked based on a 50/50 combination of weighted GPA and Traditional GAMSAT score.|
9b. GAMSAT & GPA Average Score Cutoffs
9c. GEMSAS GPA Calculator
To determine your likelihood of gaining an offer for an interview, follow the link below (it is so informative and powerful we needed a separate article).
10. International Students
10a. How to apply:
If you are an international student, applying for graduate entry medical school will require you to submit an application directly to each medical school, not through GEMSAS. Requirements per program include GPA from an undergraduate degree achieved within the last 10 years, GAMSAT or MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores, and corresponding portfolios and personal statements if required. If you have not completed your undergraduate degree in English, then you must demonstrate proficiency by taking the IELTS exam. For more information, visit: https://www.ielts.org/.
10b. What to submit:
International application form
Certified Copies of academic transcripts
Certified Proof of English language proficiency
Certified Copies of GAMSAT or MCAT results
Portfolios and supplementary forms (if required)
Additional documents outlined in the international application form
Total scores for candidates include all of the above in addition to the interview. There are an average of 10-20 spots for international students per program. All applications are sent directly to the medical school or through a specified agent representing the university in the applicant’s home country.
11. Thank You!
We hope that you found our application guide useful. Many of us at Fraser’s know this process, and empathise with how it can seem prohibitively overwhelming. However, now that you have the information, you’re already halfway there.
We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming application and look forward to seeing you again, whether that be at upcoming workshops or on the wards.
All the best,
The Frasers Applications Team