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GAMSAT Students: Why You Need To Be More Confident

Lack of confidence is the fundamental issue at the core of many students’ essay writing troubles. If you ever suffer from ‘writer’s block’, have difficulty coming up with ideas or find yourself relying on broad generalisations in your essays, you need to read this. 

Below is an essay written by a student who is just like you.


Driving with a provisional license

If we look at the world today, young people have become mini-adults. They are growing up at an accelerated rate due to responsibilities bestowed upon them prematurely or pressure from peers. It is paramount that parents and guardians aid in their child’s physical, mental and emotional growth. The struggles are apparent, but should not take precedent to the wellbeing and development of the child.
In the current state of inflation, it becomes difficult to foot all of the bills. Many parents are working multiple jobs to ensure the security of their household. Childcare in itself is increasingly expensive that it may be of benefit to have a parent stay home. In a single parent household it becomes an increasing challenge to provide as well as spend time with the family. Though it may pose an obstacle it is important that a child leaves and comes back home to a parent or guardian.

In addition peer pressure is a constant phenomenon that causes young people and even adults to sway from values they hold. As a teenager I wasn’t interested in going out to concerts and parties. Due to peer pressure I attended a Chris Brown concert, which I didn’t enjoy in the slightest. Friends and people of the same age group can influence action, thoughts and feelings. Therefore it crucial to have a support system at home to aid in such situations. Some parents due to overworking do not know where their children are half of the time.

Absentee parents can cause young children to mature and be doing things that the parents should. A child may be sixteen and old enough to care for a younger sibling, but that child also needs to be cared for. Often young people resent their parents that are constantly working as it adds pressure they are not ready for. Due to ‘playing the adult’ they may show symptoms of fatigue.

It is understandable that a parent can not stay at home 24/7 and fend for a family, but they should ensure enough quality time is spent with their young people. There are many influencing factors that can steer the youth of today into the wrong direction. Parents should be instructors until their budding drivers can steer the wheel themselves.


The following were the comments I wrote back to this student:

Forgive me if I get too personal in my analysis. I’m not trying to be ‘hard’ as you asked, but honest. It may amount to the same thing at times.

First off, the title is misleading. Although it is intended to be read metaphorically, this only becomes apparent at the end of the piece. In the meantime the reader is left wondering about it. This is distracting. I would ask you exactly what is the effect you are trying to achieve by using metaphor here. Was it to create a sense of intrigue – a mysterious title to lure the reader in?

Further to this, the essay is littered with broad, generalised sentences.

“Many parents are working multiple jobs to ensure the security of their household.”
“Some parents due to overworking do not know where their children are half of the time”

While such general comments are difficult to support adequately in a 400 word essay, you make no attempt to back them up with evidence, and simply state them as if they are fact.

An unsupported statement is not a fact, it is an assumption.

Every argument relies, to some extent, on assumptions. The trouble is that you have far too many. Your reliance on these assumptions in your argument comes from your tendency to generalise. The tendency to make these generalisations derives from your desire to make your words appear more profound. This, I would argue, is the same desire that drove you to incorporate metaphor into the title of your essay. You feel your words are not interesting enough on their own and need to be enhanced.

This is obvious by the dire nature of the generalisations you make:

  • They are growing up at an accelerated rate…
  • In the current state of inflation…
  • Childcare in itself is increasingly expensive…
  • …an increasing challenge to provide as well as spend time with the family…
  • peer pressure is a constant phenomenon

These cliches work to give a sense of an immutable acceleration in the gravity of circumstances. It’s as if you are trying to fabricate a sense of heightened importance in your words. Altogether this demonstrates a lack of confidence in your writing. It suggests that you don’t believe what you have to say is important or interesting.

When you lack confidence in your own thoughts and words a number of tendencies arise; chiefly the tendency to generalise and be imprecise. You also become more likely to adopt more popular points of view and more likely to frantically spew out common knowledge and cite widely accepted ‘facts’, eg. Inflation, peer pressure, without getting into the depths of their meaning. In this case this has resulted in a mildly argumentative essay which rambles a lot and doesn’t draw any real conclusions.

It’s not that you can’t write. In fact I know you can write – really well! You gave that away when you sent me that first email.

You might think I am joking because it was barely six sentences long, but it said a lot about you. It was direct, concise, precise, polite, unerring and, most importantly, considerate of the reader.


I will soon be sending you some essays.
You instantly tell me who you are. You don’t waste time asking for permission because you know it’s implied.

I just wanted to ask if it would be possible to write a short story rather than an essay.
The reason for this email. I could stop reading here already know what you want. This is unlike the title of your essay in that you’re not trying to lure me in with hints at the profund, you’re just going straight ahead with your demands.

I have read around and most people talk specifically about writing essays. I understand that it would possibly be easier to write an essay as you can apply structure to it.
Some context to help me guide my response and guage what you already know. Very helpful.

What are your thoughts on this?
The ‘call to action’. You make it easy for me to reply because I know exactly what is being asked of me.

The difference between your email and your essay is specificity and honesty. In your email you wrote exactly what you meant. In your essay you didn’t. You say for example, that you went to Chris Brown as a result of this abstract phenomenon known as peer pressure. If you were to write more precisely, you would have said that you went in order to impress someone. In truth, you sought self-validation and felt that going to this concert was a way to get it.
Perhaps if you had gone down this more precise line of thought you would have considered to assert a more compelling connection between peer pressure and overworked parents. I.E. Overworked parents pay less attention to their children who, in turn, must rely more heavily on their peers for social validation, rendering them more vulnerable to peer pressure.

You are a good writer. All you need is a little more confidence to dramatically improve your essays.

Don’t be afraid to commit to your own ideas.

Learn to trust that what you are writing is valid. You don’t need to embelish it. You have your reader’s attention, now what is it you want to say?