Doing Gamsat With A Non Science Background

One of the questions I get asked a lot is

"How hard is it to do well in GAMSAT with a non-science background?"

If you're wondering about this yourself I've got some good news for you - after coaching Gamsat students for 15 years I can tell you that it is perfectly possible to do very well in Gamsat, even if you've never studied science before, and I know many non science students who did exactly that.

Many times they actually manage to do very well in all three sections, other times they absolutely ace sections one and two and just get a good enough mark in the science section so it doesn't pull them down too much.

Most universities require a minimum score of 50 in every section.

Of course you still do have to follow some steps to learn the science - I'll talk more about that later.

It also depends on which non science subject you studied, or are studying, since graduates of certain subjects do better in Gamsat than others. I'll also cover that further down.

But first let's look at why your situation may be better than you might at first think.

Remember Gamsat consists of three papers

1. Reasoning in the Humanities and Social Sciences;

2. Written Communication; and

3. Reasoning in Biological & Physical Sciences.

Many people get so worried by the science that they forget that 50% of your mark comes from papers which require good verbal reasoning and communication skills.

In other words these two papers favour humanities students - and in fact humanities students statistically do better in these papers.

Also note that several universities use an alternative marking formula which doesn't double weight the science paper but instead just gives it a one third weighting.

So obviously in this case humanities students have an even bigger advantage since two thirds of the exam is now non-science based.

For more details about the alternative marking formula and which universities use it please refer to my previous article in this blog GAMSAT Universities Guide

However, having said all that you still need to learn some science, so what's the best way of achieving that?

I usually recommend giving yourself at least 6 months to get to the required level in biology, physics and chemistry.

Most people can achieve that even if they are still completing a previous degree or have a full time job.

If you've never studied science at any level you'll obviously also to have to start with basic stuff before trying to attempt full Gamsat questions. Jumping into those straight away will just de-motivate you.

For more details on exactly how to prepare for the science paper you can find another more in-depth post I wrote in this blog GAMSAT Section 3

GAMSAT for non science background students

Graduates of some non science disciplines tend to do better than others in Gamsat.

This is according to a ten year analysis of Gamsat candidates results carried out by a group of Australian academics in conjunction ACER - the Australian Council for Educational Research which is the creator and test administrator for Gamsat.

They discovered that -

Maths and engineering students scored highly in the test overall. This isn't too surprsing since although not sciences they are both disciplines which require a high level of calculation skills which is essential for section three. Surprisingly both groups also scored very highly in section one.

Economics and law students also perform above average in the test (although not as well as maths or engineering). Law students in particular perform very highly in sections one and two and slightly below average in section three.

Pure arts and humanities students perform below average in the test, however if you're graduating in one of these disciplines don't be too disheartened as the difference isn't that great, the average overall score is around 3 points lower than science students.

Interestingly, nursing students and overseas medicine graduates do particularly poorly.

Vets perform well and dentists perform average (presumably these are people looking to change career).

Actually having finished your previous degree is also correlated with doing better as opposed to still being in the process of completing your studies. People with doctorates also do better.


Just because you come from an arts and humanities background don't get complacent.

You may have written several essays a week over years for example, but that may not translate into doing well in a Gamsat essay which is of a type you may not have done before and under a very tight time constraint (you have to write two essays in just one hour).

The same goes for section one. Make sure you do all the practice questions you can get your hands on. Your results will guide you as to whether you need to dedicate more time to preparing in this area or whether you can just sit back and relax.

Further Resources

For more help with GAMSAT check out Griffiths Gamsat Review Home Study System which takes you step by step through all three sections with advanced strategies for each.

Griffiths GAMSAT Review Home Study System
Griffiths GAMSAT Review Home Study System