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Strategies for answering a GAMSAT essay question
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10:51 pm
January 24, 2010


Nicholas Johnson

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I scored 70 on the essay section which is a good score but I know other people who did better. I asked several people who scored highly in this section (80+) what they did and the strategies they used. The results surprised me and with hindsight I would compose my essay slightly differently. My essays tend to be somewhat academic but the really successful essays were emotional as well. I've listed the common themes below:

Strategies for getting 80%+

  1. The purpose of a GAMSAT essay is to demonstrate that you are articulate, intelligent and have taken an interest in current affairs, particularly those related to medicine. Fulfill this purpose!
  2. Read the quotes and determine what two opposing principles are being talked about. There will generally be two principles and these will generally have something to do with current affairs. Be current and look for the open invitation!
  3. The instructions say to respond to one or more quotes. You do not need to respond to all of them. Most people pick one but you could also pick a few that hang together nicely for you. All the 80+ essayists responded to only one.
  4. Plan. Take a few minutes to open up your mind and write down the ideas that come. Base your ideas on the general themes in the quotes. You can do this on the answer sheet if you like as the examiner may like to see your working.
  5. Develop an argument drawing parallels and distinctions between the principles. Remember to refer to the quote or quotes.
  6. Be shouty. Unlike an academic essay, polemic is acceptable and encouraged! Remember that your essay will be read quickly and the finer points will be lost. A beautiful, delicate, elegant argument couched in good academic english will not do the job here. Do feel free to get a bit cross (within reason).
  7. Make it flow! It must flow, your ideas must be joined up either as extensions of one another or as counterpoints to each another.
  8. Draw in current affairs wherever possible. For example if the question is to do with small state vs large state you might talk about the British NHS vs. the American Medicare system and President Obama's plans for a publicly funded healthcare system.
  9. Use the correct words for things. Technical terms reinforce the fact that you are knowledgeable. Don't use big words for the sake of it but if you're talking about say Objectivism, use the word and assume your reader will understand it. Use them correctly or you'll sound like an idiot!
  10. Reread your essays at the end. If you see points that don't hang together link them with a sentence. If you see words that don't flow, change them.

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Nic Johnson Revisegamsat.com

7:21 am
December 17, 2013


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