Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 533–546 | Cite as

Testing for medical school selection: What are prospective doctors’ experiences and perceptions of the GAMSAT and what are the consequences of testing?

  • K. KumarEmail author
  • C. Roberts
  • E. Bartle
  • D. S. Eley


Written tests for selection into medicine have demonstrated reliability and there is accumulating evidence regarding their validity, but we know little about the broader impacts or consequences of medical school selection tests from the perspectives of key stakeholders. In this first Australian study of its kind, we use consequential validity as a theoretical lens to examine how medical school students and applicants view and experience the Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test (GAMSAT), and the consequences of testing. Participants (n = 447) were recruited from five graduate-entry medical schools across Australia and a publicly available online test preparation forum. An online survey was used to gather demographic information, and quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were analysed via descriptive statistics and qualitative data were thematically analysed. The findings showed there was a considerable financial burden associated with preparing for and sitting the GAMSAT and moderate agreement regarding the GAMSAT as a fair selection method. The main unintended consequences of using the GAMSAT as a selection tool included barriers related to test affordability and language, and socialisation into the hidden curriculum of medicine. Selection tools such as the GAMSAT have some limitations when the goals are to support equitable participation in medicine and professional identity development. Our study highlights the value interpretive and theoretically-informed research in contributing to the evidence base on medical school selection.


Medical school selection Written tests GAMSAT Consequential validity Qualitative 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) for funding this research.


The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) funded this research.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prideaux Centre for Research in Health Professions Education, College of Medicine and Public HealthFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Sydney Medical School - NorthernThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of DentistryUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Office of Medical Education, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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