GAMSAT Prep Advice for Section 2 – What is Your Stance?


GAMSAT Prep Advice

Another piece of valuable GAMSAT prep advice I can give you for Section 2 is to establish your views on the various themes in advance. At the point of perusing the quote set during the exam is not the time to be weighing up whether you think money, politics, religion or media is the root of all good or evil.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are rock-solid in your stance on certain topic as many GAMSAT quotes can challenge your thinking. For example, right now you may consider yourself to be a person that wholeheartedly supports freedom of speech. Then you encounter the following quote:

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky

The first step in interpreting this quote is to consider who “we” (as a society) despise. Terrorists? Paedophiles? So, in the context of this quote, if we 100% support freedom of speech, that means we support the right of terrorists to publicly preach hate and murder, and we support the right of paedophiles to publicly vocalise the intimacies of their desires toward young children.  Are you happy for this to occur? Do you really support freedom of expression for the people we despise – especially when you consider what the consequences of such freedom of expression is likely to be?

It’s easy to jump on the ‘war is bad’ bandwagon, but take the time to consider an alternative view… why war might be absolutely necessary.

Is wisdom more powerful than knowledge?

Should people tell the truth ALL the time?

Barely anything is either black or white – there is usually shades of grey in between and it is important that you don’t ignore these shades of grey in your GAMSAT essays if you hope to score well.

Also, do you tend to view things through a particular lens? Your faith? Your culture? Feminist? Your socio-economic status? If so, be aware of this and use it as a springboard for comparison in your GAMSAT essays where appropriate.

If you make evaluating and firming up your worldview and stance on a broad range of topics part of your GAMSAT prep, you will be better placed to write stronger GAMSAT essays without wasting time contemplating your opinions or position during the actual exam.

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GAMSAT Essay Topics Quote Interpretation – Nature

Gamsat Essay Topics

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GAMSAT Essay Topics: Nature

GAMSAT Essay Quote: “When mice run, cats give chase.” – Rachel Vincent

Before you continue on to read the advice I am about to provide on interpreting this quote, take a moment to do your own initial interpretation of the quote so that you can compare your thoughts to mine later.

Over the past four years tutoring GAMSAT students I have seen a pattern of tendency to avoid quotes that are a little abstract. I emphasise to my students that this is a shame because often these quotes (if given a chance) provide a golden opportunity to write a unique and highly engaging essay – which tends to translate to a high-scoring essay.

When you encounter this particular quote, the first word that popped into your mind ideally should have been ‘instinct‘. For cats, hunting is a survival instinct. As early as four weeks old kittens start stalking and pouncing on potential prey. Experiments in which kittens experienced no external stimuli or play during their first few weeks of life have revealed that as adults those cats were still good hunters. This shows that hunting (ie. chasing mice) is instinctive in cats and is likely genetically coded. So where do our thoughts go from here?

Initially your mind will probably leap to other animals that instinctively stalk their prey as further evidence in support of this quote. Perhaps then you might start thinking of other behaviours that animals do instinctively. One of my tutoring students recalled a herd of African deer-type animal (sorry, I forgot what it was exactly) in which the weakest member instinctively sacrifices itself to a predator so that the rest of the herd can safely escape. This is interesting considering that herd animals usually exhibit selfishness: each animal will sacrifice its neighbour to survive. The herd instinct itself can be a fatal. Native Americans killed thousands of bison at a time by heading the herd over a cliff, each bison instinctively following the others to their death. Similarly, caribou crossing rivers won’t turn back even when the current is too rough and all ahead of them are drowning. A female octopus lays eggs in a crevice and guards them for months until they hatch. She does not feed at all in this time and she dies soon after they hatch. The Stegodyphus spider gives her own body as a first meal for her offspring. Bees instinctively fight to their death to protect their queen.

That’s nature and instinct in the animal kingdom, but GAMSAT essays require a reflection on humankind. Stopping at the above without considering how the quote relates to human beings is what makes nature one of the GAMSAT essay topics that many students navigate less successfully than others. Although self-aware humans do sacrifice themselves altruistically (soldiers in war), it isn’t the strongest example of what we do as instinctively as a cat chasing a mouse. So what is then? Instinctively jumping into a pool to save a drowning baby. Our instinctive fight or flight response to fear? What else can you think of that we humans do as instinctively as a cat chasing a mouse?

What might your essay thesis be? Humans are as instinctive as animals to ensure our survival? You can’t change nature/human nature? Something else?

Hopefully now that you can see how to seamlessly tie environment nature together with human nature, this will no longer be one of those GAMSAT essay topics that you struggle to navigate.

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GAMSAT Books for Section 2 – What to Read?

GAMSAT Books for Section 2 – What to Read?

Your GAMSAT preparation for section 2 essay writing MUST include reading books that broaden your knowledge of philosophy, morality, religion, social justice, economics and politics among other prominent topics. I cannot stress how important this is if you want to be successful in writing a well-informed, high scoring GAMSAT essay. Students who are well-read and have a better understanding of the diverse range of issues that impact nations, societies and human beings produce stronger GAMSAT essays.

Yes, there is a wealth of relevant information readily available on the internet. But for those her prefer the page-turning thrill of paper-based literature, I am dedicating this post to recommending a handful of books that I and some of the GAMSAT students I have tutored recommend. I will add to this post over time, but here is a few goodies to get you started…


The Reason Of Things – A.C. Grayling

A beautifully written, although sometimes a little rambling, collection of short essays on a diverse range of things that matter the most to mankind, including love, morality, religion, war, freedom, politics and more. In a nutshell: themed philosophical musings that are pleasantly thought-provoking.

Preview The Reason of Things on Goodreads


The Consolations of Philosophy – Alain de Botton

If philosophy isn’t really your thing and reading the original works of Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche bores you to death or makes your brain hurt, this book is for you. Addressing topics such as lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety and conformity, this very readable book presents a popularised version of the analysis of the problems of human life. This book may be a little too self-help style for some, but others will appreciate it’s wit and simplicity. In a nutshell: A great stepping stone before progressing into more intense philosophical readings.

Preview the Consolations of Philosophy on Goodreads



Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty – Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson

This highly engaging book answers the question of why some nations are rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine. The answer? The man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success or lack of it, supported by historical evidence. In a nutshell: although somewhat repetitive, this is an interesting, insightful book that may change the way you look at the world.

Preview Why Nations Fail on Goodreads



50 Big Ideas You Really Need to Know by Ben Dupre

Covering politics, philosophy, religion, economics, science and the arts, this easy-to-digest book devotes 4 pages to each idea (enough to introduce each concept and cover key aspects),  a timeline at the bottom providing context, as well as side panels to smarten up each page. In a nutshell: it will whet your appetite to dig deeper and to think more broadly about a range of GAMSAT essay topics.

Preview 50 Big Ideas You Really Need to Know on Goodreads

The World’s Greatest Idea: The Fifty Greatest Ideas That Have Changed Humanity – John Farndon

With help from a panel of experts from the fields of science, the arts and philosophy, the author delivers a bite-sized look at the ideas that have driven civilisation forward the most throughout history, despite their flaws. Groundbreaking scientific theories are featured alongside the social theories of Marx and Smith, as well as  fire, farming, the wheel, sewerage, vaccines, steam power, electricity, mass production, the abolition of slavery, marriage, monotheism, wine, music and more. In a nutshell: an excellent resource for gaining a little bit of knowledge about a lot of important stuff that has changed humankind.

Preview The World’s Greatest Idea on Goodreads



A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Another enthralling, humorous, easy read that covers a lot of interesting ground. Containing a monumental amount of information, this book takes a fascinating dive into the historical development of cosmology, earth science, ecology,  zoology and more. You will journey through quantum physics, geology, the size of our solar system, the year without a summer and many great stories from the history of science. In a nutshell: an entertaining, curiosity-satisfying adventure into the realms of human knowledge.

Preview A Short History of Nearly Everything on Goodreads


Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

This illuminating book takes a hilarious foray into all the ‘bad science’ we are constantly bombarded with in the media and advertising which unfortunately many people use to base their health decisions on. Everything from the abundance of highly exaggerated claims, the useless pie-charts on the back of cereal packets, to the precarious use of the word ‘visibly’ in cosmetics ads. The author takes aim at the alternative medicine quacks, data-skewing drug researchers, scare mongering journalists and simple-minded celebrities who sell ‘bad science’ to unsuspecting consumers. In a nutshell: a real eye opener on how biased and flawed some published medical studies are and the impact this has on us.

Preview Bad Science on Goodreads

Do you know of some other great GAMSAT books for section 2 that you would recommend to other GAMSAT students? You are welcome to make suggestions in the comments section below…

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7 Reasons You Should Get a GAMSAT Tutor for Section 2


7 Reasons You Should Get a GAMSAT Tutor for Section 2

I have seen many students on forums question whether it is worthwhile getting a GAMSAT tutor to guide them in the months or weeks leading up to the exam. You might find yourself asking questions like: Is it worth the cost? Will it really help? For some people having a GAMSAT tutor coach them in writing better essays for section 2 might nicely boost their score by 10 points, for others it might ultimately be the difference between being offered a university place to study medicine or not.

Here are the top 7 reasons you should consider getting a GAMSAT tutor for Section 2:

  1. Of all three sections of the exam, tutoring delivers the strongest improvement results in section 2 of the GAMSAT.
  2. You will receive expert advice to redirect and guide you if your GAMSAT essay writing approach is really poor or totally on the wrong track!
  3. There is no point writing dozens of essays without having someone provide you with feedback on how to improve your essays and get better and better over time.
  4. You will receive personalised advice and strategies for improving your GAMSAT essays tailored towards enhancing your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.
  5. You will stay committed to practicing your essay writing and if you have an excellent GAMSAT tutor your essay writing skills will improve quite quickly.
  6. The improvement you see in your essay writing skills coupled with the positive feedback you receive from your GAMSAT tutor as you improve over time will significantly boost your confidence.
  7. Boosting your score in section 2 of the GAMSAT (which is fairly easy to do) helps bring up your overall GAMSAT score!

The decision is entirely yours, but…

If you are struggling with or feeling overwhelmed by essay writing, you would benefit from tutoring.

If you need someone to keep you on track and regularly writing practice essays,  you would benefit from tutoring.

If you need to get faster at essay writing to meet the 30 minute time limit,  you would benefit from tutoring.

If you scored in the 50’s of low 60’s last time you sat the GAMSAT and are looking to score better next time, you would benefit from tutoring.

If you want to give yourself the very best chance a achieving the highest possible GAMSAT score,  you would benefit from tutoring.

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GAMSAT Preparation Advice – Practice Interpreting Essay Quotes

GAMSAT Preparation Quotes

GAMSAT Preparation Advice

One of the best pieces of GAMSAT preparation advice I can give you is to make practice interpreting GAMSAT essay quotes a priority from the outset.

Like anything else in life, the more you practice interpreting essay quotes as part of your GAMSAT preparation, the better and faster you will become at it. I regularly set quote interpretation tasks as homework for my tutoring students across a wide range of themes. Doing this as an exercise also provides you with an opportunity to consider your position on and assess your existing level of knowledge about a wider variety of general themes than is the case if you were to only carefully consider quotes/themes that you have time to write full essays on.

The GAMSAT essay writing strategy I teach my students involves 10 minutes of planning before they begin writing the essay. Why? Because if you put the necessary time into correctly interpreting and deeply considering your chosen quote, then carefully planning your essay, such preparedness means that a great essay practically writes itself. There is no further analysing, contemplating or procrastinating during the writing process, which allows you to churn out a logical, on-point, well-structured essay quickly!

After sitting the exam many students have told me how nerve-wracking it was to still be planning while everyone else was frantically writing. But in the end the strategy paid off – they finished writing in time and produced an essay strong enough to score in the high 60’s or 70’s.

If interpreting the meaning of GAMSAT quotes is something that you struggle with, I would recommend interpreting a dozen quotes and then asking clever friends or relatives how they interpret those same quotes to compare. Hopefully you will start to see a pattern of where you are going wrong.

Please be sure to practice interpreting GAMSAT essay quotes as a key part of your GAMSAT preparation for section 2 so that you get really good at doing it. It gets easier with practice, I promise!

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