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How To Choose An Essay Title

I always advocate choosing an essay title based on one of the five given comments. Choose one and make it your essay title. Which one do you choose? The one you understand the best.
All the big marks on the exam go for three things:

  • Showing you understand the quote you are responding to
  • Demonstrating that you’ve thought deeply about it
  • Communicating those thoughts in a clear and structured manner

Taking one of the given quotes to be your essay title forces you to respond to it directly. It infuses your writing with this specific focus and prevents you from losing marks for wandering off topic.

Below is an essay sent in by a student. Have a read of it, and afterwards I will explain how it could be improved by further developing the principles I just explained. More…

Why To Write Shorter Sentences

According to the American Press Institute:

  • When the average sentence length of a piece is less than 8 words long, readers understand 100% of the story.

  • At 14 words, they can comprehend more than 90% of the information.

  • Move up to 43-word sentences, and comprehension drops below 10%.

Longer sentences have been shown, repeatedly, to be harder to understand.

The UK Government now prohibits sentences longer than 25 words on public civil documents.

Great advertisers, who can’t afford to be misunderstood, use the shortest sentences of all.

As a competitive GAMSAT student you can’t afford to be misunderstood either. The examiner cannot give you marks for sentences they don’t understand. It is therefore your duty to make comprehension as easy as possible for them. The easiest way to do this is to write shorter sentences.

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Golden Rule Of GAMSAT Essays: Be Specific

Generalisation is the process by which you broaden the scope of a statement. Generalisations are often a manifestation of a logical fallacy called Composition/Division. The tendency to make generalisations comes from the desire to embelish your writing – to make your words seem more profound.

Unfortunately, their use tends to have the opposite effect.

Generalisations give the examiner the impression that you are not thinking. The marking scheme makes it clear that a large proportion of marks are given for demonstrating depth of thought. Generalisations are the exact opposite of this – they suggest an attempt at breadth of thought, and you don’t get marks for that.

Last time, we looked at an essay full of broad generalisations and unsupported statements. Here is another unedited one – many thanks to the student who sent this in!

Broad generalisations are marked red and unsupported declarations are in blue.

 

“Has television benefited us as a society?”

The topic of whether television has benefited us as a society is one that can swing both ways.
On the one hand, television is a tool for entertainment that has taken many hours of our time on a daily basis. This has led to a decrease in productivity, especially in children, and has only contributed to increased laziness in society.
On the other hand, television has allowed us to keep up to date with developments around the world. It has vastly increased the number of jobs for people who now have a large platform in which to express themselves and create a successful career. It has also become a vast source of information and has allowed individuals to experience exotic environments from the comfort of their living room.

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9 Arguments To Stop Using In GAMSAT Essays

If you are implementing any of the following ‘literary nuances’ in your GAMSAT essays you are losing marks unnecessarily.

 

1) Appeal to Authority: Arguing that something is true because _insert authoritative source here_ said so.

This is a common argument that looks terrible to a GAMSAT examiner. You’re essentially saying “some other clever person has thought about this already, so I don’t have to.” GAMSAT Section 2 is all about demonstrating your own depth of thought, so don’t outsource it. If you decide to quote people to support your argument then make sure you take careful consideration of potential biases and/or hidden motives they may have had. Don’t make a quote the sole foundation of your argument, no matter how widely accepted it is, without at the very least noting that you are doing so.

 

2) Bandwagon: Arguing that something is right because everybody does it.

This is a derivative of the ‘appeal to authority’. Instead of citing one clever person, you cite the popularity of an idea and suggest that ‘that many people can’t be wrong’. Eg. Cigarettes, guns… thinking the earth was flat. There is no excuse for using this argument on the GAMSAT.

 

3) Strawman: Misrepresenting one side of an argument to make it easier to attack or oppose.

Regularly used in politics, this is a very effective strategy when you want to persuade a mass of people who don’t understand an issue. This may seem like an attractive approach when constructing a two-sided thesis/antithesis essay but don’t fall into that trap. The strawman approach suggests to the examiner that you don’t understand what you are talking about.  How are they to know you are intentionally misrepresenting the ideas of Socrates?

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GAMSAT Section 2 – Reading List

There are a number of reasons why you should make reading non-GAMSAT material part of your study plan:

  • To enhance your ability to understand and critically appraise material you read.
  • To broaden your knowledge and understanding of different ideas
  • To excite your creativity or make allowance for a lack of it
  • To expand your emotional and self awareness
  • To improve your spelling and grammar and punctuation

Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the GAMSAT. Below I’ve suggested 4 different reading lists depending on which skills you feel you need to work on.

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