Gamsat essay sample questions
Gamsat Sample Essays
Excercises in Critical Thinking and Argument Construction
Get Better At GAMSAT Section 2
Welcome to GAMSAT Sample Essays – partner website to Gamsat Sample Questions
This website contains a series of tutorials and exercises for anyone looking to improve their score on GAMSAT Section II.
I also provide 1-to-1 online GAMSAT tutoring on request at a rate of 40 euro per session (approx £30 / AU$60)
Any questions and feedback to: feedback@gamsatsamplequestions. co. uk
Should You Argue Both Sides on Task A Essays?
This is a question I get regularly from new GAMSAT students or those just starting out with their preparation for GAMSAT Section 2. Should you, when responding to a quote that presents itself as a factual statement, argue both sides? On the one hand it might be true, on the other hand it might be false.
The answer is it depends. It is important to show that you have thought deeply about the meaning of one of the quotes and that you understand it. One way of doing this is to build an argument in favor of the quote, or in other words to explain how it could be true. Then you adopt a different perspective, or describe a situation in which the quote would be considered false.
For example, if we take a nice simple quote – “Expensive clothing is a waste of money”. You would start by explaining why it is a waste. Perhaps you might say that it is a waste of money because you can get equally good clothing cheaply by shopping around. Whatever you are trying to achieve by spending a lot of money on clothes can also be achieved by spending less. You don’t need to spend money to look good / intelligent / sexy / rich / whatever you are going for. You can include here a specific example to show that what you are saying is true, or support your argument with other information you might have or colour it with quotes from other people.
Now at this point, to show you’ve really thought about what you are saying, you go on to describe a situation in which buying expensive clothes would not be considered a total waste. In building this second argument or perspective you don’t want to contradict anything you’ve said before, but sort of respond to it and say even if all that is true there might still be a situation in which buying expensive clothes is not a waste and may even be necessary to do. For example, let’s say you are buying a gift for someone. Maybe that person really likes Ralph Lauren shirts. Or maybe you are expected to demonstrate to this person that you love them by spending a lot of money. You are already committed in this case to spending money, so it doesn’t matter what you are spending it on – may as well be overpriced clothes which you will never yourself wear. Your (vain) friend will be delighted to see you have spared no expense in delivering their present and maybe you will even get more popularity points for having spent more money than was truly necessary to satisfy them. The expense itself becomes the gift, and although the purchase itself was a raw deal, the emotional transaction between you and your friend was far more valuable. By doing it this way you have not invalidated any of the things you said at the start, but have still managed to describe a context in which the quote could be considered false.
It is equally possible to just stick to arguing one Side – (as it were, there aren’t really sides as it is all one essay and each sentence should bring us closer to understanding the quote, regardless of which truth you are advocating at the time) and just develop your argument really thoroughly Eg. Break down the quote into smaller parts and explain each bit. What is waste? How does waste come about? Then based on your initial revelations you gradually move to conclude that expensive clothing is ubiquitously a waste of money. Or in other words, if clothing is definitely always a waste of money, then what else is true, or what else might the author believe about the world? Eg. Is expensive food also a waste for the same reasons? Expensive cars? Are all grave expenses a waste of money or is there some particular quality of clothes that makes spending a substantial amount of cash on them daft? In answering these questions you will achieve the same goal of demonstrating that you’ve thought deeply about the quote and you’ll end up with a very focused discussion instead of just saying lots of vague things about clothes and money – which is a guaranteed path to Task A mediocrity.
Different commercial sources and teachers will advise different writing methods based on their own areas of expertise, but the core goals of the writing are the same.
Some students excel at putting themselves in other people’s shoes. They find it easy to adopt different perspectives and look at things from multiple directions. Other students, once they get an idea into their head that they agree with, find it very difficult to think of it as anything other than absolutely true. In the latter case it is perfectly fine to throw your counter-argument to the curb and really try to persuade the reader that your perspective is the correct one. Or in other words, to persuade the reader that if she stands in your shoes and accepts your preliminary propositions, there will be no other possible conclusion than the one you deliver in the final lines of your essay.
Gamsat Sample Essays
Excercises in Critical Thinking and Argument Construction
50 GAMSAT Essay Titles
Below are 5 sets of ‘Task A’ essay titles, and 5 sets of ‘Task B’. Task A tend to relate more towards topical issues and encouraging an argumentative style of writing. Task B, you will notice, is more likely to contain interpersonal and intrapersonal issues, and often are more easily/effectively approached from a discursive, rather than argumentative perspective.
Instruction: Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme, how well you organise and present your point of view and how effectively you express yourself. You will not be judged on the views or attitudes you express.
Hint: Practice as you intend to perform; handwrite your answers and restrict yourself to 30 minutes per essay. Then email finished essays to feedback@gamsatsamplequestions. co. uk if you would like them corrected (type or scan them in).
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
“There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” – Ulysses S. Grant
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” – Jeanette Rankin
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein
“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” – Elbert Hubbard.
“The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.” – Andrew Brown
“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” – B. F Skinner
“It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.” – Clive James
“It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.” – John Stuart Mill
“It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.” – Douglas Adams
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato
“Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.” – George Burns
“We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” – Kin Hubbard
“When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it.” – Clarence Darrow
“ A hungry man is more interested in four sandwiches than four freedoms.” – Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.
“ No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person.” – Willa Cather
“ If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear.” – Various
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
“ If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom. ” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“ The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” – Edgar Allen Poe
“ It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I’m not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.” – Warsan Shire
“ Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” – mary Wollstonecraft
“ It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” – Leo Tolstoy
“ I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.” – Oscar Wilde
“ We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – William Durant
“ It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” – Batman
“ Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” – George Crane
“ Be – don’t try to become” – Osho
“ The important thing is this to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” – Charles Du Bos
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” – C. S Lewis
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” – Aristotle
“ I wonder what Piglet is doing,” thought Pooh.
“I wish I were there to be doing it, too.” – A. A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh
“ Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment. ” – Haruki Murakami
“ Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.” – Charles Lamb
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” – Marcel Proust
“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”
– James Joyce
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” – John Whittier
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – That one girl on facebook
“Yesterday’s just a memory. Tomorrow’s never what it’s supposed to be.” – Bob Dylan
“ I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” – John Lennon
“ People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” – Neil Gaiman
“ Some things have to be believed to be seen.” – Madeleine L’Engle
“ Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” – George Carlin
“ I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” – Gerry Spence
“ If there was no fear, how could there be comfort? Or courage?” – Veronica Rossi
“ How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it.” – Paolo Coelho
“ Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.” – Dan Brown
“ I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.” – Veronica Roth
“ Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
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A hackers guide to the GAMSAT essay question
GAMSAT is basically designed to narrow down graduate applicants for medical school. It does this rather ruthlessly but serves medical schools well, in reducing the applicants they must consider for a place.
The most discerning part of the test is probably the essay question. There are a few reasons why this is deemed difficult by most graduates.
- Many graduates today, particularly those from a science background, have little experience in essay writing.
- Many graduates are not as well read as they would like to be and so lack confidence in writing about current issues with confidence.
- For the not so well read, trying to get the required level of knowledge over such a wide range of topics could take over a year of careful reading of selected books and articles. (see last section of this article)
Key points for your GAMSAT essay strategy
1.Your essay is an argument
This is obvious to seasoned essay writers, but actually A key point that never quite gets explained properly to the rest of us.
Any essay has to have a central point of view that its writer is seeking to convince the reader about. Each point made in the essay will contribute to the formation of an often multi-faceted argument.
As an essay writer you can and should include arguments made by ‘the other side’ that you disagree with and then explain why you think they are invalid or at least why they fail to disprove your central argument.
The conclusion should tie the argument together and give a final parting shot for your side.
Don’t worry about the over-reliance on figures and data but do get an idea of the way the argument builds up sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.
Key point: His point of view is so clear to the reader that you can literally scan the article and miss some points and pick up on others and regardless of this, the central thrust of the argument is always clear.
2. Writing the essay plan should take longer than writing the essay.
This is controversial, but it is something I was told at an early age and it has always served me well.
The steps to writing a plan are as follows:
- Decide on the overall thrust of your argument. (Hackers tip: If your knowledge in this area is really sketchy and you’re in a tight corner come back to this step once you have listed your points and can defend at least ONE viewpoint adequately)
- Use a whole sheet and place rough headings for
- As quickly as you can, add points to each section In whichever order they come to your into head. If the conclusion is clear, get that down first. Personally, I often put my main argument and counter arguments down first. Scribble them down. Hurry up.
- Number the points in the order you want them to appear in the essay. This is unlikely to be the order in which you’ve written them down. They should flow easily from one point to the next, making the essay easy to read and the argument easy to grasp. Remember, your examiner will probably not read every word but skim. The better it flows, the quicker that lazy, cheating, skim reading examiner, can score you well and move on to the next paper!
- Write the essay. Twenty minutes of planning followed by 10 minutes of writing takes guts but is the an ideal formula. (Ammend this if you feel it doesn’t work for you. It does take nerves of steel in an exam setting) This ensures your plan is perfectly tuned and all your points are clear. Writing the essay should simply be a case of transferring your plan into a neater form with all the points in the correct order.
3. Keep it simple
Keep your argument simple and easy to understand. Use lots of simple individual points for your argument rather than a convoluted or complex point that requires careful reading to digest. This is easy for most science graduates, but if you’ve spent your undergrad years writing sophisticated essays for politics or English literature, now is the time to dumb things down. Ask yourself, will this essay score Lots of points in quick succession, or will it be better appreciated by an academic with a keen interest in this area?
You definitely want the quick, successive point scoring style for your GAMSAT essay.
4. Sound like an authority
- Make your points concisely and confidently to sound like you know what you’re talking about.
- Use correct grammar, spelling and style.
- Use correct terminology including technical terms.
- Quote statistics, surveys, and other forms of ‘evidence’ to back up your points wherever possible. (Although fabricated surveys showing X or Y to be true are not easily verifiable by your examiner, they can cause you to lose badly if you get found out. You simply don’t need to do this for GAMSAT – yes, you know who you are!)
- Sound like you actually care a lot about the topic. Again this will lend credibility to your argument.
- Use up to date examples from the Mainstream media (ie broadsheet newspapers). In this day and age you are considered well read if you read a newspaper regularly. (If you think this is ridiculous, I agree.)
These are all techniques used by most modern day journalists, almost all of whom are not specialists (or even knowledgeable) in any area at all.
5. So how can I think of good points to make when my brain is actually empty!
If you have more than six months before you sit the GAMSAT, it is definitely worth having some sort of Reading regime that will help you feel confident constructing arguments that are pitched at the correct level for the GAMSAT essay. Ideally you also want to read things that will make you sound well rounded and intelligent at your future interview and kill two birds with one reading regime. You might have been told that there are no shortcuts to this but in fact there are:
- Read a newspaper every day. If you want to follow my advice, this means a quick look through the guardian headlines each day (currently free online), skimming through any useful news and reading through the editorials and the opinion pieces a little more carefully. This chap writes about anything well and will save you much thinking. Have a quick look through the reader comments below each article too for any useful points. I’ve found that over 90% of GAMSAT essay questions can be dealt with perfectly with just the material available on the Guardian comment is free section of the website. What could be easier?
- For those with more time, read the latest key texts on various current topics. For a complete critique on the media, this cannot be bettered.
- For a lowdown on ethics in current political life try this.
- Book reviews in the LRB are an amazing way to digest the key arguments contained in a book without going to the trouble of reading the whole book. The essays are always written by experts in the field. They are often good material for interview practice too. Not all are free, but subscription isn’t too expensive and you get a paper copy posted to you each fortnight. I would particularly recommend David Runcimans pieces.
- For other sources of free, online, high quality writing on current affairs, try the following:
A) Arts and letters
B) The New yorker
C) The Huffington Post
D) Spiked online — plenty of simple arguments to emulate
Do not overestimate the competition. If you do the simple things mentioned above, you will kill off the competition with ease. Most people read advice but never act on it. Do a little reading each day, do a few practice questions (not too many) just to get the timing and technique right, and then concentrate on other areas of the GAMSAT and your med school application.
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