You don’t need to memorise a dictionary to score well in the GAMSAT Section II, it’s your expression of ideas that mostly dictate how well your essays are scored.
In general, I like to point students to consider blending philosophy into our essay writing, since doing so will introduce students to a vast array of ideas that often overlap with GAMSAT topics. We have plenty of resources to get you started. The only thing left to do is to incorporate our ideas into a fully-fledged essay. Not unlike an artisan cheesecake, there are certain steps that we must follow to arrive at the ideal outcome. Below is the secret recipe for how to structure your writing and score well.
|Introduction||Touch on Social Problem* related to prompt, and how your philosophical idea to alleviate it.|
|Paragraph 1||What is a Social Problem related to the prompt and it impacts the individual? (See details below)|
|Paragraph 2||Why is this Social Problem urgent?|
|Paragraph 3||How can your philosophical idea of choice, fix the problem?|
|Conclusion||Wrap up and clearly establish a link with prompt.|
*Don’t worry, I will explain this shortly. See Body Paragraph 1.
The introduction should serve as a simple outlay for the ideas you will be discussing in your essay. To start you off, I suggest following a simple, 3 sentence format.
- Present your opening Social Problem and how it relates to the topic.
- How does this Social Problem impact the individual. Is it an urgent matter?
- Allude to your philosophical solution of choice; how can it solve the problem?
As your writing skills develop, you may find yourself adding more content to your introduction. However, always be sure you refer back to these core fundamentals within each essay. Below is a sample introduction written for a topic on “technology” (May 2020 GAMSAT prompt).
“(1) The unimpeded progression of digital transformation has revolutionalised the process in which we interconnect with family and friends, yet, the transparent nature inherent within this form of communication has encouraged uniformity in the way we express ourselves. (2) In many ways, technology has subdued our individual identities, to live in such a state that is bereft of true expression, is a heinous sin to ourselves and a disservice to our precious earthly time. (3) In alleviating this irrational phenomenon, introspection into our virtues can provide clarity in finding meaningful purpose within ourselves.”
BODY PARAGRAPH 1
I’ve been making constant reference to a Social Problem, what exactly does it mean? A Social Problem is a problem that allows us to link the theme of the prompt, to a current-day issue. This helps give substance to our discussions, we’re also able to discuss content that we’ve prepared for. For Social Problems it is important to prepare issues that are generally applicable to a wide array of prompts.
What are some Social Problems?
- Extravagance. Materialistic goods and lavish spending habits are almost synonymous with a successful businessperson. Our addiction to this lifestyle creates severe interpersonal problems, especially when we begin to use money as a measure of self-worth.
- External validation. Perhaps due to an increase in the capabilities of technology, the ease of communication between many individuals has potentiated the value of external opinion. Our society and in the individuals within are constantly plagued by anxiety and worry of meaningless comments and ‘likes’.
Critically, these discussion points can be applied to a wide array of GAMSAT prompts. Below is an example of how a prompt on “love” can be linked to the broad Social Problem of “extravagance”.
Our society promotes an insatiable love for consumerism and materialistic goods. This deeply ingrained habit has perpetuated countless disruptions to an authentic social order. As a collective, we often define ourselves and acquaintances by the number of extravagant gifts and exotic clothes we own; our perception of self-worth can be simply quantified with a dollar symbol. Moreover, our society sets this example for all individuals to follow, a life in pursuit of glamour and glitz, free from the ‘distractions’ of meaningful relationships and passions. Those who follow this path are condemned to an insincere lifestyle that would ultimately yield unrewarding results. Love is an essential element to a fulfilling and sustainable life, a crucial component that is underappreciated within our era.
BODY PARAGRAPH 2
Here, the main goal is to make your examiner care about what you have to write. I mean, it’s all great to say that we live in a consumerist, sexist, racist, selfish, and overall problematic society, but why does any of that matter? Why should you (or your examiner) care about any of this?
To solve this riddle, I usually have one key suggestion.
- Authenticity. We should care, simple because we only have one life to live. We need to make the most of the time that we are given, to maximise the meaning and true gratification within our lives.
Here is how you can incorporate this simple idea into a GAMSAT prompt on “success”.
“The transient nature of our existence, necessarily hastens the need for us to redefine success. With each waking moment diminishing, how wasteful must it be, to spend our times fulfilling society’s norms of successful life. The subjective opinions of others, will often corrode our own resolve, leading us to choose regretful actions in the pursuit of success and prestige. We don’t want to live out own later years with regret, reminiscing of missed opportunities that could have brought us meaning within our lives. We must realise in earnest, that to find forms of long-lasting gratification, would be the only true success worth pursuing.”
BODY PARAGRAPH 3
This is the fun part, pick and choose some philosophical ideas to provide a solution to all the problems you were previously discussing. I give some advice on curating philosophical evidence here.
Here is an example of how Confucian philosophy can be applied to a prompt on “space travel”.
“Whilst space exploration seeks clues outward toward the infinite oblivion, to find true meaning within our lives we must turn inward toward our personal chasms. Classical Chinese philosopher – Confucius once mused, “The virtues of courage and sincerity are bedrock to a wholesome lifestyle.” Just like how the first astronauts courageously boarded the spaceships, we must also show courage and faith in pursuing our dreams. These Chinese virtues denounce a life in pursuit of materialistic goods, opting instead for time spent in pursuing the subjective ideals of each individual. By acting with these virtues in mind, we take the first steps in fabricating an exploration of our most sincere desires, whatever they may be. In doing so, we act as role models for those around us, promoting meaningful lifestyles that are worth exploring.”
Keep it simple, you’ve done all the hard work already. Follow a similar 3 sentence structure to your introduction, aim to summarise your ideas in a captivating way.
Below is a sample conclusion for a topic on “government control”.
“Whilst the Government aims to promote the interests of most, it’s actions paradoxically detract from the freedom to make our own choices. When such circumstances could adversely effect the fulfillment we find within life, we ought to reject the oppressive ideologies of massed Government thinking. To do so, the teachings of virtue ethics elects us to find the courage to lead our own path, one that is tailored to our own wishes. Whilst breaking into an authentic and individual lifestyle may prove daunting, we are eternally rewarded with knowledge that our efforts are condensed on a noble cause, ourselves.”
Follow this structure and you’ll be well on your way to scoring 70+. All these components are complete in our high scoring sample essays.
If you’re after a more detailed explanation, including expertly collated philosophical ideas, quote banks and even more sample essays, check out our essay guides. The September 2020 edition has a completely new refresh of philosophers so you can rest assured you’ll be writing on something unique.GAMSAT Section II