Section II of GAMSAT can be a challenging section for those who are unprepared. The section requires the candidate to write two complete essays in 60 minutes. Instead of the luxury of simply picking answers from MCQ options, Section II presents candidates with the challenge of synthesising a novel response in the shape of a formal essay. More challenging is that the candidate does not know what the topic will be, and the fact that there are two essays that need to be typed.
Writing strong GAMSAT essays requires sophisticated skills in two domains: essay structure and composition, and content. The importance of these two proficiencies is emphasised officially by ACER. Assessment focuses on the way in which ideas are integrated into a thoughtful response to the task.
Control of language (grammatical structure and expression) is an integral component of a good piece of writing. However, it is only assessed insofar as it contributes to the overall effectiveness of the response to the task and not in isolation. Candidates are not assessed on the ‘correctness’ of the ideas or attitudes they display. It is therefore important to consider the structure and content components of essay-writing before reviewing the essays.
Structure refers to everything outside of the content or ideas expressed in the essay. This includes the style of essay (e.g., argumentative versus expository), paragraph structures, transitions, phrasing, and vocabulary. The aim of the candidate is to build this structure during their preparation, and to practice refining it so that it becomes second nature. This structure may be referred to as the candidate’s essay template and is reproduced for every essay written. The purpose of the essay template is to streamline the process of delivering the content under exam conditions. Getting this right will mean the candidate wastes zero time thinking about how to express themselves and will also make the essay a joy to read for the examiner.
Content refers to the ideas that the candidate produces in response to the stimulus topic. This requires existing knowledge, and supplementation of that knowledge to develop sophistication. In responding to most topics, the candidate cannot hope to know enough about the topic to score well without doing some elementary research for each. It is therefore recommended that candidates research a pre-determined list of topics prior to their exam. Once the candidate possesses this knowledge, and their essay template is refined, the task in the actual exam is to combine the two in response to the exam topic.
The best way to develop your essay template and knowledge of content is to write many essays under exam conditions. Once each essay exercise is complete, it is important to seek formal feedback and then to refine the essay. This method provides the following benefits:
- Candidates gain experience writing essays under timed conditions
- Candidates gain experience using their essay template in the context of an exam
- Candidates gain exposure to many different essay topics, and the examination will test their existing knowledge of what is known, highlighting areas of deficiency
- Candidates can refine their essay based on objective feedback with the process of improving both their approach and knowledge of the essay topic
- Candidates who write 50+ essays can virtually secure themselves a 70+ in Section II if they do the work
Writing these essays can be self-directed or guided through a formal GAMSAT program, like those offered by the Institute of Medical Education. You can also try our GAMSAT Essay Writing Quote Generator to help improve your writing, which provides 68 essay themes with example arguments against each prompt. Contact the Institute of Medical Education today — our qualified team of university-trained academics can appraise and provide essay feedback, helping you develop a well-rounded piece of writing.