How long to prepare for GAMSAT

One of the first questions that people ask when starting their GAMSAT journey is "How long do I need to prepare for Gamsat?"

Well, how long is a piece of string?

Because the answer depends on a lot of variables as I will explain below.

However in GENERAL TERMS most people need ABOUT 6 MONTHS

Further on in this article I'll be explaining the things you should be doing and the timetable you should be doing them in depending on how long YOU decide you're going to need to get ready for the test.

But before I get into that let's look at some of the many variables which can affect the time you're going to need.

1. How much time can you devote daily to study?

When I sat Gamsat I did it in around only 3 months. BUT....I was able to study full time and I put in 12 hour days.

Most people probably don't have that luxury.

Most of you will be students finishing other degree courses.

Now let's be honest, that still puts you in a better position than someone who has a full time job. And in a WAY better position than someone who has a full time job AND is a parent.

Your average student still has enough free time to fit some extra studies in and can easily reach the required level for Gamsat in around 6 months.

However even then, there are a few further variables to take into account.

Which sitting of the test are you going to be taking?

Because if you're taking the September sitting and you're a student then you've probably got a long summer holiday right before the test.

A long "holiday" which you can use for full time study.

On the other hand if you're taking the March sitting then, well, you're right in the middle of term time. You won't even get the benefit of the Easter holiday which usually falls right after the March Gamsat around the beginning of April.

So a fat lot of good that does you.

Apart from these general factors everyone will have their own individual circumstances which only apply to them and which will determine how much time they can give to daily or weekly gamsat prep.

2. How close to the test are you?

Check the next test date here -

So if you're planning well in advance and are planning to sit Gamsat in two years time then no, you don't need to start preparing now.

The longest I recommend anyone take is a year IF you feel you really need it.

This may be the case if you have no prior studies in the sciences (I'll talk more about this in the next point) or you have very limited study time available each week.

But any longer than one year is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.

You'll get bored and you'll get de-motivated.  And you'll be studying so long that what you learned at the beginning will be forgotten by the time of the test without constant revision.

And the time you spend in constant revision is wasted time that could be better spent.

So to reiterate for most people 6 months is recommended.


But what about if it's already less than 6 months until the test?


This was my case for example.

I only found out about and decided to sit the test a little more than 3 months before.

So I had no choice. And maybe you won't have any choice either.

Luckily I was able to put in long days of studying full time. If you can do the same then a shorter timescale could work out for you also. But even if you can't put in so much time don't be put off.

People do pass with very little preparation.

Look at this email someone sent me in 2015 -

"I sat Gamsat in September with no preparation at all except a week before reading your guide....I used the advice for all three sections ...then to my delight I passed with a score high enough for any UK med school! - Rebecca"

Now obviously this is not the norm and I don't recommend you try this at home.

But I always say to anyone thinking of sitting the test who is nervous and doesn't feel prepared enough -

"You've got nothing to lose"

Go for it anyway. You might get lucky like Rebecca. If not what's the worst case scenario? You have to take it again at the next sitting. Which you were going to do anyway. Except now you've got some real life and valuable test experience under your belt.

And no-one cares how many times you take the test. There is no penalty for sitting Gamsat more than once.

3. What are your prior studies?

The science paper is the section of Gamsat which carries most weight. Under the standard formula for calculating your final score the science paper score is doubled.

That means that although there are three papers making up the test, section three counts for 50% of the total final mark.

You probably know that some universities use an alternative system which only assigns section three a one third weighting, and the number of universities doing this seems to be growing.

This appears to be in recognition of the fact that communication skills as tested in sections 1 and 2 are just as important to being a successful doctor as knowledge of science.

In case you were wondering the universities which do this, at the present time they are

St. George's

Nottingham and

St. Andrews

in the UK and


Queensland and


in Australia.

Nevertheless most uni's are still using the standard weighting.

Now if you've already studied or are currently studying a science based subject which involves knowledge of biology, physics and chemistry then you are obviously at a significant advantage to someone who is studying economics for example.

So you'll probably need less time than the economics student.

To summarize the above the optimal time period for preparing for Gamsat is to prepare like an athlete prepares for a competitive event.

You don't want to start too far in advance - in athletics terms you'll either peak too soon and struggle to maintain your peak condition, or you'll burn out long before the test.

Neither do you want to leave it too late so you can't get in condition in time before the event at all.

You want to peak with maximum performance on test day.

And for most people this will require around 6 months preparation give or take. You'll need to adjust it for your specific circumstances as outlined above.

Gamsat Preparation Calendar
Gamsat Preparation Calendar

Your Preparation Timetable

Now, what should you be doing and when in your gamsat preparation?

Given that the science is -

1. The most time consuming to learn, and;

2. Accounts for 50% of the mark,

then it makes sense to start this right at the beginning of your studies.

For more in depth help with your Section 3 prep check out my other article I wrote by clicking here > Gamsat Section 3


Section 1 preparation should be guided by your performance in the ACER practice papers.


Try doing the section 1 questions from either the Sample Questions or Practice Questions which you get from ACER as soon as you start your studies (these are the books which are equivalent to half a full Gamsat test.

How did you do straight off the bat with no preparation at all?

In my own case when I did this exercise at the beginning of my own Gamsat prep I was getting over 80% correct consistently on the section 1 questions without doing any prep at all.

So I knew I didn't have to put in much effort for section 1 - although I did of course put in some.

In my last full length practice test which I did a week before the test I got 93% correct in section 1, so that obviously wasn't a concern for me.

However I know from my many years experience helping other people with the test that not everyone falls into this category.

Many people struggle with section one and if you're one of those people you're going to need to start preparing for this section much sooner in your studies.

For more help with this part of the test I have another more in depth post >

Gamsat Section 1


How To Use Your ACER Practice Papers


You can get five books of practice questions from ACER plus as many as you want from other commercial gamsat prep companies. But don't go overboard, just doing thousands of unofficial practice questions won't help you much.

Focus on quality over quantity.

I usually recommend using some of the official ACER books throughout your studies to test your level right at the beginning as outlined above and then also to monitor improvement as you go along.

For example of you have just studied a particular topic e.g. acids and bases in chemistry, then you find some questions on this topic and try them out.

Use any you got wrong to guide further studies.

However save at least two of your full length tests to do two proper full length mock tests as you get near to the actual test day.

I recommend you do your final mock a week before the actual test. The idea by now is not so much to be learning new stuff, but rather to just build up the mental stamina to concentrate at peak efficiency throughout a whole day's testing.


However long you set yourself to prepare for the test remember that consistency is the key.

Whether you decide to study 3 hours a week or 20 hours a week make sure you stick to it.

And try and do your study on the same days at the same time.

Getting into a routine can put your preparation on autopilot and take a lot of the stress out of it. As the weeks go by little by little you'll see your progress mounting up.

Best of luck!

Dr Peter Griffiths

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