Great GAMSAT Books to build Background Knowledge for Section 2

gamsat books

The list of books below were recommended by past candidates that took the exam to help broaden one’s knowledge in philosophy, morality, religion, social justice, economics and politics, among other prominent topics.

Yes, there is a wealth of relevant information readily available on the internet. But for those her prefer paper-based literature, the following are a handful of GAMSAT books that are must-reads for the exam:

We do not recommend buying every single one, just pick the most suitable for your GAMSAT revision:


#1. The Reason of things – A.C Grayling

This book consists of a collection of Grayling’s regular ‘Last Word’ columns in the Guardian. This time topics include Suicide, Deceit, Luxury, Profit, Marriage, Meat-eating, Liberty, Slavery, Protest, Guns and War.

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#2. The Consolations of Philosophy – Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton has set six of the finest minds in the history of philosophy to work on the problems of everyday life. Here then are Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on some of the things that bother us all: lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety; the fear of failure and the pressure to conform.

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#3. Philosophy: The Basics – Nigel Warburton

This is a great read to gently ease readers into the world of philosophy. Each chapter considers a key area of philosophy, explaining and exploring the basic ideas and themes.

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#4. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – Y.N Harari

Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century and beyond – from overcoming death to creating artificial life.

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#5. Why Nations Fails – D Acemoglu and J Robinson

Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail sets out to answer this question, with a compelling and elegantly argued new theory: that it is not down to climate, geography or culture, but because of institutions. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, from ancient Rome through the Tudors to modern-day China.

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#6. Free Speech: A very short introduction – N.Warburton

Nigel Warburton offers a concise guide to important questions facing modern society about the value and limits of free speech: Where should a civilized society draw the line? Should we be free to offend other people’s religion? Are there good grounds for censoring pornography? Has the Internet changed everything? This Very Short Introduction is a thought-provoking, accessible, and up-to-date examination of the liberal assumption that free speech is worth preserving at any cost. 

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#7. 50 Big Ideas you really Need to Know – Ben Dupre

50 Big Ideas You Really Need to Know is a concise, accessible and popular guide to the central tenets of Western thought. Every important principle of philosophy, religion, politics, economics, the arts and the sciences is profiled in a series of short illustrated essays, complemented by an informative array of timelines and box features

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#8. Democracy: The God that failed – HH Hope (Controversial)

The core of this book is a systematic treatment of the historic transformation of the West from monarchy to democracy. Revisionist in nature, it reaches the conclusion that monarchy is a lesser evil than democracy, but outlines deficiencies in both. Its methodology is axiomatic-deductive, allowing the writer to derive economic and sociological theorems, and then apply them to interpret historical events.

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#9. Social Animal – Elliot Aronson

A compelling introduction to modern social psychology. Through vivid narrative, lively presentations of important research, and intriguing examples, Aronson probes the patterns and motives of human behaviour, covering such diverse topics as terrorism, conformity, politics, race relations, advertising, and interpersonal attraction.

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#10. Psych 101 – Psychology facts and more – P Kleinman

The book gives you a lesson in psychology that keeps you engaged – and your synapses firing. From personality quizzes and the Rorschach Blot Test to B.F. Skinner and the stages of development, this primer for human behavior is packed with hundreds of entertaining psychology basics and quizzes you can’t get anywhere else.

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#12. Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Since 2003 Dr Ben Goldacre has been exposing dodgy medical data in his popular Guardiancolumn. In this eye-opening book he takes on the MMR hoax and misleading cosmetics ads, acupuncture and homeopathy, vitamins and mankind’s vexed relationship with all manner of ‘toxins’. Along the way, the self-confessed ‘Johnny Ball cum Witchfinder General’ performs a successful detox on a Barbie doll, sees his dead cat become a certified nutritionist and probes the supposed medical qualifications of ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith.

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#13. A Short history of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization – how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson’s challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn’t some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science.

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Hope you found that helpful! For more more GAMSAT preparation tips check out the rest of the blog. Additionally, take  the 30-day GAMSAT challenge – acts as a study planner and virtual tutor to help prepare for the exam. Used by hundreds of students to date with 100% positive feedback.

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