In GAMSAT about 270 minutes of the test relies on the reasoning abilities of the aspirant and therefore it is vital to improve your analytical skills in order to clear the test. As a student with a background in biological or physical sciences you might find Section III relatively familiar. But you would probably break out in cold sweats when given a poem to analyse in Section I. Follow our expert tips though and poetry appreciation should soon be as easy as those science questions that you’re already so good at.
Understanding and analysing poetry will help you in overcoming the occasional ambiguities that poetry poses to a student who does not have a literature background. However, no matter the level of poetry experience that you have, you’ve always got to take into account the limited time you have to read and digest the poem. A very important factor to keep in mind is that at GAMSAT you are often asked what the author is trying to express, here the multiple choice format can really help you out. In multiple choice questions two answers can be very similar, you need to understand the given excerpt thoroughly. Luckily on the other hand even with a quick glance some options can be automatically discarded. With some options so similar the best approach is to begin trying to analyse poetry when you are preparing for GAMSAT. Practice will give you the ability to analyse different types of poetry and give you an idea about the most frequently used symbols and other tools in poetry so that your analysis on the day of the test becomes easier.
The first thing to understand, when analysing poetry, is to assess the content of the poem. The attitude and the presence or absence of the speaker, the tone and diction he/she uses to develop the imagery, and the tension built up in conflict as well as its final resolution will help you to decipher the content of the poem and understand the context of the poem. Once you understand the content of the poem, you must pay attention to the imagery used. Does the imagery evoke a sensory experience and repeat it often? The presence of metaphors and allegory, as well as symbolism will help you understand if there is an underlying meaning that does not become apparent on the first reading of the poem. Once again practice is essential. Only with practice will you begin to see that certain symbols are repeatedly used in literature to mean particular emotions. For instance, a cold night might mean decay, aging and death and the rose might mean purity or chastity. You will find such common symbolism used throughout literature and knowing them makes analysis easier.
Try analysing the form of the poem. Knowing the different structures that poetry can be categorised into, such as the sonnet, the ode and the haiku will help you identify the form and look out for any deviations from it. Knowing the flow of the stanza and the rhyme scheme is also important because on the day of the test implicit knowledge of these will save a lot of time. Knowing the form of the poem given to you is also important because it often helps to identify emotions associated with the particular form and this will help you answer questions based on the general theme or structure of the poem.
The best way to answer questions based on a poem in GAMSAT is to keep on practicing your poetry analysis. Only then can you attempt to have a critical view of the excerpt given and answer the questions effectively.