Q&A With the best (90+ SII)

Q&A With the best (90+ SII)

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2 August, 2020

Update: Jamie will be commencing her medical degree at the University of Melbourne in 2021.

For the recent May 2020 GAMSAT, many of students utilised our essay guides to achieve excellent scores. One student in particular, reached astronomical new heights, receiving a score of 91 in Section II. This student has asked to remain anonymous, they will henceforth be referenced as Jamie.

Q1) Hello Jamie, please tell us a little bit about yourself?

After completing high school I was interested in scientific research, so I did a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Honours. I didn’t continue with a PhD straight away, instead took a break to work and apply for some other courses. 

Q2) How did you prepare for the GAMSAT Section II?

I started preparing for Section I first – which happened to help me a lot for Section II. For me the most difficult thing about Section I was understanding the abstract philosophical texts. So I started researching on philosophy.

Initially my focus was understanding the basic concepts in philosophy. Personally I didn’t like the Crash Course videos, instead I just googled the concepts and read short articles on them. I also attended  some University lectures on introductory philosophical units. The key is to get exposed to the ideas in plain English. By then I was really interested in philosophy. I was aware in the back of my mind that this could somehow translate into Section II, but I didn’t know how until I saw Andy’s website!

Once I grasped his essay structure, I then began to read classics in philosophy to delve further into a particular idea. I found this difficult at first because philosophers tend to write long and convoluted sentences. But often there would be chapter summaries and analysis online that I could refer to.

While I read I was actively asking myself – is this an idea that is broadly applicable to any topic in Section II? If so, how?

After doing this for some time, my English improved a lot and I felt for the first time I could actually understand (at least superficially) some of the more difficult texts in Section I. I had also accumulated some interesting ideas I could use for Section II. At that time Andy opened up more places for the May cohort, without hesitation I bought the package. The essay guide went through an in depth explanation of how to break down the topic. I thought his way of relating the topic to a Social Problem was amazing. The guide helped me piece together my ideas into a coherent essay. By working on practice essays with Andrew, I learned how to be flexible in applying my ideas to different topics.

Q3) Any tips for students new to GAMSAT Section II?

Start early and work hard. I definitely think Section II can be improved, but only when you’ve made the effort.

Getting the right help is extremely important. You don’t want to be spending your precious time and effort on the wrong method. Personally I agree with Andy that reading newspapers etc is not a high-yield strategy for Section II. I think his essay guide will definitely point you in the right direction.

Q4) Do you think incorporating philosophy into your essays improved your scores?

Yes. Before I incorporated philosophy, I was relying on the typical structure of 2 paragraphs ‘for’ and 1 paragraph ‘against’, and my ideas were very ordinary. I scored in the 60’s.

Q5) How did you feel on exam day? Were you prepared for the prompts you received?

I was worried I would get some strange prompt that I’ve never thought about. I knew my performance would depend on how well I could relate my ideas to the prompt. So I practiced writing or just thinking about responding to any random topic I could think of. Luckily I got topics I had already thought about.

Q6) In hindsight, would you do anything differently in your preparation and approach to Section II?

Having spent so long searching and perfecting my ideas, I didn’t allocate enough time to practice essays. From memory I only had 2 weeks for intensive practice. I wrote around 3-4 essays a day. Just before sitting the test I thought how good would it be if I had just one more week…

I think what saved me was, I had thought about my ideas for a long time and understood them fully. Also, since the early stages of my preparation I was constantly practicing in my mind, how can I relate my idea to this theme?

Q7) How do you stand out from the crowd when writing your essays?

Originality of ideas in all 3 body paragraphs! Can you think of an interesting Social Problem that the examiner hasn’t thought of? Does your Individual Problem reflect deep thought about human nature? Again, philosophers are experts at this.

Think of your paragraph as an overall theme, and under that theme you can have 2 or even 3 sequential ideas. One idea should flow logically onto the next.

A single paragraph can have more than one idea in it. Some people run into the trap of having just one idea in a paragraph, and because the idea is simple enough to be explained in a couple of sentences, they then fill the rest of the paragraph with many examples to prove their point (what I previously did too). This can be a bit boring. Instead, think of your paragraph as an overall theme, and under that theme you can have 2 or even 3 sequential ideas. One idea should flow logically onto the next.

Q8) Would you recommend our essay guides to a friend?

I can’t recommend it enough!!! Unlike most other essay courses out there where you pay for a generic (useless) template, Andy’s approach is unique. His essay guide actually gives you brilliant ideas applicable to a wide range of topics. It takes effort to source and filter through these ideas!

Thank you for your time in answering these questions Jamie, I wish you all the best in your medical school application process. Congratulations once again on your amazing score.

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