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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