GAMSAT is more about reasoning and logical understanding of materials presented to you in the test rather than a test based on information that you can recall from information acquired from academics. In the first section of GAMSAT, you will find multiple choice-based questions set from excerpts from various literary works as well as graphic presentations of a situation. One type of GAMSAT cartoon questions is usually drawn from personal issues. The second type is usually an editorial/political/social/cultural cartoon that you must understand, analyse and answer questions on.
Even if they are not knee-slappers, editorial cartoons present a commentary on society and show a position on ongoing issues of interest. The most important thing about editorial cartoons is the analogy they present to the reader. Take, for example, the following cartoon:
Even if the source of this cartoon is Benjamin Franklin’s call to the American colonies to unite against the British, the essence of the cartoon is still valid today. If you understand the cartoon carefully, it represents a call to unite or perish, and in the present view of world as well as domestic crises, this comes across as a very potent representation.
What to Look for in GAMSAT Cartoon Questions?
So what tools does a cartoonist use to convey his ideas? Below you will find all that a cartoonist uses to ensure that his opinion and perspective of the situation gets across to the reader:
- Symbols: Symbols are commonly used pictures that are meant to represent an accepted idea or group. For example, a dove represents peace and a rose might be used to represent untouched beauty.
- Caricatures: Caricatures are exaggerated drawings of people that are usually used to make a point about the people concerned.
- Stereotypes: Stereotypes are styles of representing people or a group that bring to the reader’s mind an accepted idea or prejudice. This could be in the form of the glib lawyer, the disorganized scientist or the dumbfounded common man.
- Analogies: These are perhaps the most common and the most important ways to represent a comparison. Cartoonists often use analogies to compare a current situation to a nursery rhyme, fairy tale, book or historic event.
Take the following cartoon for example:
The first question you may be tempted to ask is “What is the cartoon about?” On a primary viewing you see that this is a barber shop and the barber asks if the man on the chair wants to get rid of the beard. Understand carefully now, and note the use of the word “liberated”. Is the word used to mean anything specific? Why does the cartoonist use this word and not something like “shave” or “remove”? notice that there are others waiting in the shop and one of them reads a newspaper. What does the newspaper say?
GAMSAT is a test of how well you relate information, and the GAMSAT cartoon question is no exception. Hence, you are expected to understand this is post-Taliban Afghanistan (note that the shop is called “Kabul” Razors & Shears) and this must be around the time when Taliban fighters were shaving off their beards and trying to escape the Pakistani army offensive in their Swat bastion as common men. So, read up! Stay aware of what’s happening around you.
Understanding such analogy may not always be easy. This is why our advice to you is to read newspapers everyday and try to understand the editorial cartoons. You may also go online and analyse cartoons that often come with answer keys.