Breaking Down the GAMSAT – Essay Section for ESL Students


Help for GAMSAT ESL students
GAMSAT for ESL Students

Even with many test preparation tools available, many aspirants of the GAMSAT struggle with the essays in Section II. The ones to face the biggest fears in this section are the Science and English-as-Second-Language (ESL) students. For those who have been unfortunate to retake their GAMSATs it’s often been the case that initial fears have been unfounded. With adequate preparation students from any academic or language background can ace the essay section. Firstly though it is important to understand how to approach these essay questions.

The first step to writing the GAMSAT essay is to figure out the two sets of quotations given in the GAMSAT paper. Set A will usually have a political or a philosophical theme. Here, the test taker assumes that as a socially aware individual you will be able to write the essay. After all in your preparation you’ve learnt a lot about contemporary affairs, or you should have! Your answer must be analytical or argumentative in nature and must present your perspective in a very logical manner. Examples of the type  of themes that you could expect to come up in the test  range from poverty to education to censorship.

The second set of essay quotations will usually be of a more subjective nature. Very personal or social themes that are designed to get a very personal response from you are given. The theme will generally be closely related to your very own real life experiences. Here, you must present your opinion and support it with references and anecdotes, if possible. If you can remember anything  that has been  said about the topic in the media in the recent past you may also make a mention of that. In 2007, Humor was the theme. Other examples can include hatred, youth, laughter, honesty, self-discovery etc. It is worth noting that with these topics you cannot really make an argument so your essay has to explore and  reflect on the theme.

Since 2004, you’ve been given the option of responding to just one quote or multiple quotes. It might be a good idea if you refer to more than one quote in your essay, as the underlying principle of all five quotes may be the same.

The criterion of assessment is primarily the quality of thought expressed in the essay. You are judged on whether you have understood the topic and whether you are able to express those ideas logically in a steady stream of thought development. The quality of language and structure is only the secondary criterion of assessment. This means that your ideas and the ability to express them are far more important than writing in the Queen’s English.

This means that by knowing and using this fact an ESL student can do as well as any other student who has studied English as a native language. This is because the ESL candidate may be able to express an original and relevant idea and structure the essay in a manner that projects him/her as articulate and possessing the relevant qualities that GAMSAT is looking for in a potential medical practitioner.

In short, both native and ESL students have an equally good chance of writing a winning GAMSAT essay if they are able to convey reason and logic in their writing. The structure of your essay must bring out these ideas in the most effective manner. All that ESL students have to do is practise as many essays as possible and read up on a wide variety of literature in order to understand how to best express their thoughts for maximum effect.

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May 29, 2017

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