It seems the GEMSAS application season comes by faster and faster every year. If you’re like the rest of us, choosing your preferences never gets easier, even when applying for Medical School with the exact same scores as the previous year. Surely things shouldn’t change that much, but unfortunately they do, and there’s no time for looking back either. So what is it that messes it all up time and time again? Let’s take a deeper look.
The GAMSAT cohort is always different.
Not only is the actual exam completely different each time, but people tend to forget that those who sit it also change. So why does this matter? Because the score that ACER gives for the GAMSAT is actually a numerical assignation to a percentile ranking. This means that each year the scores differ depending on a few factors: the strength of the cohort, the difficulty of the test, and the number of students in each sit. In March 2017, a 92nd percentile ranking was good enough for a GAMSAT score of 70, yet just a year later one needed to score in the 95th percentile for a score of 70. ACER does this to ensure scores from the previous 4 years are all equivalent for the one application period.
The requirements for each university are always in flux.
Not only are the scores and their related rankings always changing, but medical schools often change the number of places that they offer, too. This means that the required GAMSAT, GPA, and interview scores necessary to gain an offer reflect these changes.
Why should we have an idea of how competitive our scores are?
Well, apart from satisfying the overwhelming urge to control the process, or to overthink everything, it can also help us guesstimate where we sit amongst the general applicant cohort during the application season. Knowing this approximation can indicate where we might best have a chance at an offer, and thus, how we should order or should have ordered (depending on when you’re reading this) our GEMSAS preferences.
So what are some of the things to take into account when making our predictions?
As mentioned above, there is always the GPA from your undergraduate, your GAMSAT score, the portfolio (for 3 of the universities), the number of spots offered for each course, and also the breakdown of how those spots are allocated. What do I mean by spot allocation?
If we look at the University of Melbourne, their 2021 MD will accept 332 students. 169 of these will be allocated to non-bonded CSP (commonwealth supported places), 68 allocated to BMP (bonded medical places), 50 to FFP (full fee places) and 45 international places. In contrast, Deakin’s 2021 cohort will accept 145 spots, with 93 non-bonded CSP, 37 BMP and 15 international positions. Deakin also allows for a variety of bonuses in your application where the University of Melbourne does not.
This means that when you’re ordering your preferences, it’s really important to consider the past year’s averages alongside your own scores. Do you think your scores rank competitively? If not, do you think you might be able to slide through with a BMP offer? What about a second-round offer? Do you think that the averages will likely go up or down this year? How would that affect your chances?
It might also be necessary to take into account the university ethos!
Although this might sound a little strange, it’s definitely important to consider what type of organisation you’re dealing with throughout this whole process. The fact that The University of Melbourne doesn’t release the previous year’s averages, to me, says something very significant about the school itself. They are very interested in maintaining their prestige and elusive status, as the best medical school in the country, and they don’t want anybody to have any chance, whatsoever, of gaining an upper hand. The University of Wollongong, on the other hand, not only has the smallest cohort in the country, but they choose to use a portfolio as well as GPA and GAMSAT. Beyond that they are also very open and amiable about their whole process. The way I see it, this suggests a much more student-oriented medical school that values nurturing over eminence.
Alongside UQ, Griffith finds itself as the perennial second-place in Queensland. Due to this, their averages are one of the highest in the country, as they usually get preferenced second by those in Queensland that want to remain in their state, driving demand.
What should you take from this piece going forward?
I think the most important thing to bear in mind is that everything is always changing and you would do well to be as prepared as possible.
We have done all the hard work for you. All the average scores, amount of spots per course and the offer type broken down for you to check out! Make sure you know what it is that you want from your experience at university. Make sure that you are aware of how likely you think you are to get an offer at each school. Look for the course that matches your values. Be pragmatic but also hold true to your ideal destination.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to give you - if we did, we absolutely would give it to each of you! The best we can do is equip you with as much information as we have, and guide you to make the best decision for you. Our goal? To help you get through your applications as stress-free and smoothly as possible. Hopefully, this article and guide on preferencing and the average medical interview offer scores have helped in some way.
That being said, make sure to check out our GEMSAS interview calculator. Through thousands of anonymous entry points, we were able to reverse engineer last year’s ranking of candidates for each university.
The calculator itself can be found here. However, more information on its synthesis is in here.