‘Writer’s Block’ is a condition whereby you just cant seem to get the words out. You sit down to brainstorm and nothing happens. You try to think but nothing comes to you. You have an essay or a letter or a story to write but no ideas seem to flow.
There are different degrees to which you can be affected by writer’s block, but the cause is always the same: Fear.
Fear of writing shit. Fear of writing improper sentences and unacceptable statements. Fear of writing anything that won’t accomplish the important task you have set before you. And the worst part is, it always seems to get more severe as the importance of the task increases.
Writer’s Block arises as a result of over-regulation of your own words. The words are there – they are trying to come out, but you are subconsciously filtering out anything that conflicts with what you think you should say. Continue reading
The following is an excellent Task B GAMSAT essay sent in by a student preparing to sit the test next month.
The student directly responds to the given quote; clearly and concisely demonstrating a perspective by which it might be understood to be true. As you can see the argument is simple and the sentences are brief. The overall effect is an essay that is easy to read and easy to understand. Exactly what an examiner wants to see!
“The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.” – Andrew Brown.
This quote summarises the opposing qualities of the Internet. The Internet is vast, and in this day and age it allows you to do practically anything that you can do in real life. It is so powerful that it can connect people on opposite poles. However, what is its purpose if all of these activities can be undertaken in real life?
The Internet has grown enormously in the last decade. More websites appear everyday. The list of activities that one can partake in is endless. A couple of the major sectors are entertainment and socialisation. In the real world, one can read a newspaper in order to enhance their knowledge of what is going on around them. Nowadays, this can be done on the Internet. In the real world people play games with their friends, but now this too can be done online. Some people like to go into betting shops and place bets on sporting events, the Internet now allows people to do this from their own home. Socialisation is something all humans crave. One used to have to venture outside their house to socialise, but now the internet has made it possible to socialise without leaving one’s home.
What you say is not necessarily what is heard. The idea starts in your mind, gets translated into words on the page, and is then interpreted by the reader. By the time the idea gets into the reader’s head it can be very different to what it was when it started out in your mind.
‘Clarity of communication’ refers to the apparent degree of distortion of your ideas as they are translated and communicated from one mind to another. And it is a critical part of the GAMSAT Section 2 marking scheme.
If what you write is being read in ways you did not intend, then what you have is (at best) a misunderstanding, and (at worst) an utterly confused examiner. They are looking at your writing and wondering ‘what is this person trying to say?’. In that situation it is very hard for them to give you marks for depth of thought or understanding the given quote. When your clarity of communication suffers, all your marks suffer. Continue reading
One simple way to improve your critical reasoning abilities is to practice. Practice deconstructing arguments, questions, statements – everything. You do this by spotting the assumptions on which the statement is founded.
An assumption is something that is assumed to be true, but which is not always explicitly stated. Assumptions are like the foundations on which arguments are built. If you start mucking about with them, questioning them, then pretty soon things start to fall apart.
Sentence: The big hat was put on the cat.
There are two meanings here:
- 1) The meaning intended by the writer
- 2) The meaning understood by the reader
And two acknowledgements:
- The meaning intended by the writer cannot be known with absolute certainty.
- The meaning understood by the reader is subjective.
Subjectivity: Depending on who the reader is, the meaning they take from the sentence may differ. People, children, space aliens – each will have a different interpretation of the word ‘big’. Also the standard size of a cat is likely to differ by geographical location. If you live in a jungle in India for example a bengali tiger may represent your standard ‘cat’. How large will the hat therefore need to be to qualify as big by comparison to this mighty cat? Is it on his head, or like, on his body? There are so many questions…
With that in mind, have a read of this Task B essay and the comments which follow. This should help demonstrate why meaning theory is important on the GAMSAT. Continue reading