We spoke with Rebecca Stiles, a former GAMSAT candidate that scored 88 in GAMSAT Section 2, she shares her tips on how to prepare for it:
#1. Don’t worry about time
Write as many essays as possible during preparation, at one point Rebecca was writing 1 essay per day at one point. She recommends using a GAMSAT Quote Generator during practice. “Take however long you need to write 2 essays. Eventually you’ll get faster, and that’s when you try to get it within the 1 hour time frame“.
#2. Get good at Essay Planning & Structuring
Rebecca admits that her essay writing skills were not amazing, however she did focus on improving the areas the examiners take into consideration when scoring an essay. She really emphasised on essay structure, she recommends that student learn how to form a thesis and identify 3 or 4 points they can make that will support the main idea of the essay. A good tactic, that shows you’ve thought deeply about your point, is to include at least one counterpoint to your main argument and then refute that point.
#3. Work on Grammar and Keep a consistent tone
Rebecca recommends spending time working on grammar, make sure to keep a consistent tense and perspective. This involves practise reading back what you’ve written out loud and making notes of when your grammar is awkward or if you switch between past and present tense (or first and third person). Get other people to check your writing, too. Find where you go wrong. Simple mistakes like their/there/they’re or your/you’re are easy to commit but say a lot about your skill as a writer and your mastery of English, so make sure you’re on top of those common pratfalls. Spelling is obviously important, too.
#4. Do all essay by hand to mimic testing conditions
Do all essays by hand. It sounds stupid but it’s difficult to write 1000 words in an hour and maintain legibility/ avoid cramping. Legibility is Important; the markers can’t read your intention, just your words. Be neat, write fast. The only way to do that is to practice it.
#5. Read to learn different writing styles
Read as much material as possible – Classic novels, newspaper editorials, sort of high-brow stuff. Editorials get you used to the kind of writing you need to emulate, novels will introduce you to new ideas, new words, new ways of thinking and writing. It’s a good idea to name-drop an author of it’s relevant to the point. Rebecca also recommends reading about political theory and current affairs. “It’s almost guaranteed one essay topic will be, well, topical”.
#6. Familiarise yourself with the Popular theories in Politics, Philosophy and Psychology
A common misconception that students make is that they assume Section 2 tests how much you know about current events. Rather than stating events the section tests how you engage, evaluate and discuss them. A good starting point is to get familiar with popular, maybe controversial, theories in politics, philosophy and psychology.
For more GAMSAT preparation tips check out the rest of the blog.