It may come to a surprise to some that there is no magic formula when it comes to GAMSAT essay practice.
The official GAMSAT guide gives very broad guidelines about how essays are marked, but one thing we can deduce is that good quality writing is key, regardless of the writing approach. When it comes to structure, the writing style used to present ideas isn’t important as long as it is in a logical and easy-to-follow way.
We recommend during practice to switch things up and try different things to help mould your writing style.
The following three strategies were recommended by top scoring candidates that took the GAMSAT in 2018, worth giving a try:
#1. Read and Mark Other GAMSAT essays
Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style, so reading other people’s essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Try to read and mark other GAMSAT practice essays.
Read essays on a wide variety of themes, not necessarily those that you’re familiar with; different concepts might apply different kinds of arguments, so the wider you read, the more possible techniques there are for you to pick up and use in essays of your own.
As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any techniques you’ve not seen before?
Check out our GAMSAT essay marking guide, includes a free downloadable marking sheet to help mark essays.
#2. Read Broadsheet papers
Another good source of essays is the broadsheet newspapers. Read the opinion pieces and dissect how the writer has supported their points with evidence, and again, be critical; note where they’ve left things out to try to persuade you to a particular opinion. Essays should be balanced, so you can learn from the best of these writers and pick up some techniques to help you shape a balanced piece.
#3. Try different writing styles
During GAMSAT essay practice, try writing in different styles and stick with the one that receives the best feedback. The main 4 types of writing styles include:
Narrative: Telling a Story
In a narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a real-life experience. While telling a story may sound easy to do, the narrative essay challenges students to think and write about themselves. When writing a narrative essay, writers should try to involve the reader by making the story as vivid as possible. The fact that narrative essays are usually written in the first person helps engage the reader. “I” sentences give readers a feeling of being part of the story. A well-crafted narrative essay will also build towards drawing a conclusion or making a personal statement.
Descriptive: Painting a Picture
A cousin of the narrative essay, a descriptive essay paints a picture with words. A writer might describe a person, place, object, or even memory of special significance. However, this type of essay is not description for description’s sake. The descriptive essay strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In a descriptive essay, the writer should show, not tell, through the use of colorful words and sensory details. The best descriptive essays appeal to the reader’s emotions, with a result that is highly evocative.
Expository: Stating the Facts
The expository essay is an informative piece of writing that presents a balanced analysis of a topic. In an expository essay, the writer explains or defines a topic, using facts, statistics, and examples. Expository writing encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay. Because expository essays are based on facts and not personal feelings, writers don’t reveal their emotions or write in the first person.
Persuasive/Argumentative: Convincing reader
While like an expository essay in its presentation of facts, the goal of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. The writer must build a case using facts and logic, as well as examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should present all sides of the argument, but must be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation why a certain position is correct.