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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GAMSAT Essay Quote Interpretation – War

GAMSAT Essay War

GAMSAT Theme: War (Task A)

GAMSAT Quote: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” (Sun Tzu)

The biggest mistake I see GAMSAT students make in relation to this quote is to ignore the phrase “subdue the enemy” and jump straight into writing a generic essay on the merits of war in order to eventually achieve peace, or conversely, discussing the horrors of war with a stance that war should be avoided at all costs.  Both of these arguments miss the entire point of the quote. The word “subdue” means to pacify or control. So what Sun Tzu is saying here is that rather than actually engaging in a bloody war, it is more masterful to somehow bring the enemy to their knees before any fighting begins. The essence of this quote is reflected in the Chinese Proverb: “The greatest conqueror is he who overcomes the enemy without a blow.”

So in coming up with ideas on what to write about in a GAMSAT essay addressing this quote, you should be mentally examining events/situations in the world/society for examples (evidence) that potentially support Tzu’s claim. What might this include? How does a nation subdue their enemy before full-scale war breaks out? By engaging in negotiations? Placing trade sanctions on their enemy? Crippling them financially in some other way? Stealth attacks designed to subdue the enemy by taking out their leader or their weapons supply? Other ways?

What are some specific, real-world examples of when and where in recent history we have seen such actions play out effectively?

Come up with a few examples and there you will have your content to write a strong GAMSAT essay arguing in support of Tzu’s claim.

Perhaps you have a different interpretation of this quote that still focuses on subduing the enemy without fighting? If so, please share it in the comments section below.

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GAMSAT Essay Quote Interpretation – Beauty

GAMSAT Essay Beauty

GAMSAT Essay Theme: Beauty (Task B)

GAMSAT Essay Quote: “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” (Leo Tolstoy)

The biggest mistake I see GAMSAT students make when tackling this quote is ignoring the word delusion. The aftermath of this error is an essay that rambles on about inner beauty and good people being beautiful on the outside as a result of their inner goodness. This misses the entire point of the quote. What Tolstoy actually meant is that we are fooling ourselves by assuming that beautiful = intrinsically good.

Once we have correctly interpreted the quote as above, it’s time to start mentally examining the world around us for examples (evidence) that either supports or disproves this claim.  Your best strategy to approach a quote like this and find strong examples to include in your GAMSAT essay is to ask the opposite: When does beauty NOT equal goodness?

If I were to choose this quote for my GAMSAT essay, I would be inclined to plan out my essay as follows:

Paragraph 1 – (Nature)

I would ask myself: When in nature are things beautiful, but dangerous / “bad”?

Blue-ringed Octopus
The venom of the strikingly beautiful blue-ringed octopus is powerful enough to kill humans and there is no anti-venom available. They pounce on their prey, paralyze them with venom, and use their beaks to tear off pieces. They then suck out the flesh from the body. Once bitten, the fast acting poison leads to loss of sight, taste and touch immediately, and asphyxial death results due to respiratory paralysis.

Angel’s Trumpet (Flower)
The name sounds innocent, but all parts of this pretty little plant are poisonous when ingested, resulting in paralysis, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations and possibly death.

Paragraph 2 – (People)

I would ask myself: Who are people that are beautiful on the outside, but “bad” on the inside?

Charles Manson – Handsome and charming, but a serial killer.

Jodi Arias – A sweet librarian looking women who faced the death penalty for the vicious, cold-blooded killing of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander while he was in the bathroom. She stabbed him with a knife 27 times and then shot him in the head.

Do you see how all of these examples provide strong evidence for my essay thesis that allowing ourselves to be fooled by the delusion that beauty equals goodness can be very dangerous to us, both in nature and in our interactions with other people?

What about beautiful female spies and assassins?

Beautiful wives that murder their husbands to get their money?

What other examples can you think of that brilliantly demonstrate how we delude ourselves by thinking that beauty = goodness?

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