Section 2 of the GAMSAT is one-of-a-kind and stands in stark contrast to its counterparts!
Unlike GAMSAT Section 1 and Section 3, the written communication section requires you to create a response to a quote set rather than answer specific questions. In the previous article in this series, we discussed the nature and purpose of Section 1, stating that in order to achieve a high score in Section 1 of the GAMSAT, it is important to understand its purpose.
Specifically, the article mentioned that Section 1 tests a candidate’s ability to listen and comprehend a patient’s perspective. In this article about Section 2 preparation, we will continue to develop this analogy, commenting on the purpose of Section 2, and what this means for GAMSAT Section 2 essay preparation.
The Written Communication segment assesses an individual's capacity to create and elaborate on ideas through writing. This segment comprises two 30-minute writing assignments. Each task presents four statements centered around a shared topic.
ACER in its booklets says that the Section 2 essays will be evaluated on the basis of:
As of the 2023 GAMSAT, Section 2 comprises two distinct writing tasks: Task A and Task B. Each of these tasks presents you with a set of four short quotes that revolve around a shared theme. Interestingly, the authors of these quotes are not disclosed, leaving you to grapple with the essence of the quotes without the influence of the author's reputation or background.
When considering how to distribute your time effectively, a frequently offered suggestion is as follows:
This time allocation is designed to align with the 65-minute total duration for Section 2. The remaining 5 minutes serve as a buffer, giving you some wiggle room should any of these tasks take longer than expected.
Planning is a critical element for achieving a high score, and while we generally recommend dedicating 5 minutes to it, this isn't a one-size-fits-all rule. If you find Task A more challenging than Task B, or vice versa, you might consider using some of your buffer time to extend your planning or writing phase for that particular task.
However, be cautious; time in this section is highly limited. Writing an essay in approximately 25 minutes is a significant challenge for most GAMSAT candidates and requires a focused, efficient approach.
In the previous article in this series, we mentioned that the medical journey begins at the patient’s bedside, where you listen to the story of their lifestyle and disease to draw critical diagnostic conclusions about their circumstances. We further mentioned that this is the skillset emulated, and tested by Section 1 of the GAMSAT exam.
Moving on to Section 2 - once you have listened to the patient’s concerns, the next step is communication. In the medical field, communication is everything!
Often the situation that the patients find themselves in is complex and multifactorial - it is the medical staff’s job to empathise, and explain the technicalities of the illness, as well as the treatment, to the patient. This is a difficult task as doctors often have to reach a precarious compromise between the interests of various specialists, as well as respecting the patient’s lifestyle priorities.
This is exactly what Section 2 Task A and Task B are attempting to re-create. GAMSAT essays for Section 2 are written in response to Section 2 quote sets. These quotes represent various perspectives on a given theme. This will be the case in your future medical practice, where you must aim to consider all the opinions presented by the quote set, and reconcile them within the time limit, with as much clarity as possible. And this will be the case in your future medical practice, the choice of style and formatting, is left largely up to you. Having said this, however, here is a brief guide to Section 2 preparation.
Begin your GAMSAT Section 2 preparation by diving headfirst into essay practice. The sooner you start, the more strategic advantage you'll gain.
Instead of sticking to what you already know, broaden your intellectual horizons by exploring a diverse range of subjects. This will not only enrich your perspective but also ignite a creative spark that will prove invaluable for generating unique and compelling essay ideas.
Once you've laid a strong foundation, the next step is to optimize your writing process. Create a systematic approach that ensures each essay is well-structured and coherently developed.
But don't stop there—actively seek out feedback from those around you, be it peers, family, or even professionals in the field. Take constructive criticism to heart; it's an invaluable tool for refining your skills and producing essays that not only meet but exceed the GAMSAT Section 2 requirements.
To give you a practical sense of what high-scoring essays look like, we've gathered a collection of sample essays with scores ranging from 50 to 80+.
As the exam date approaches, practice under timed conditions to replicate real testing scenarios. This is a pivotal element for achieving success and should not be overlooked.
For those looking for a more structured approach to preparing for Section 2, including tips on theme identification, research, and writing style, check out our comprehensive resource: GAMSAT Section 2 Study | Where & How to Begin.
ACER has explicitly stated that both Task A and Task B in GAMSAT Section 2 revolve around overarching themes. According to Fraser’s GAMSAT analysis, Task A mainly zeroes in on socio-cultural issues, often navigating the 'inter-personal' realm—this includes laws, religions, economics, and social narratives. Conversely, Task B skews more towards the 'intra-personal,' emphasizing individual aspects like emotions, cognitive states, and the lived experience.
Many GAMSAT candidates tunnel-vision on the individual quotes, neglecting the overarching theme, or vice versa. Striking a balance between these two aspects is crucial, as GAMSAT Section 2 marking rewards essays that describe the complexity expressed by the individual quotes, within the context of the overall theme.
A good first step in your Section 2 preparation is to have a look at Fraser’s GAMSAT Section 2: Frequently Asked Questions. This article focuses on clearing the air of confusion for a lot of students who are sitting the GAMSAT and additionally, comprises a range of useful tips to approach the GAMSAT Section 2 Essay. We also strongly recommend you to take a look at our Section 2 quote generator as a resource for GAMSAT Section 2 practice questions - that is, attempt to interpret the quote sets prior to clicking to reveal the theme.
Following your interpretation, set the timer and write a GAMSAT essay style guide for GAMSAT Section 2. Make sure to review your work with your fellow exam candidates after you have completed the piece - the review process is the most important step in improving your essay!
Ultimately, it is up to the candidate as to how to format their GAMSAT Section 2 essay. It is important to bear in mind that the marking criteria and purpose of a GAMSAT Section 2 essay remain consistent regardless of the style of writing a candidate chooses to pursue. Returning once more to our medical analogue - as a medical student, you would not try to communicate with a patient through the medium of a poem, or a creative story.
This is why we advocate for an argumentative/analytical/expository style of writing, which is the safest and most reliable method of Section 2 communication.
An argumentative essay consists of contention, two to three body paragraphs (each with individual arguments) and a conclusion that directs the reader to the ultimate implication of your written work. This isn’t to say that writing an argumentative-style essay is gospel and thus gives you a high GAMSAT score. Instead, this format is for everyone to have experience writing. Ultimately, it is important to explore and write about ideas that you understand, in a communication style with which you have confidence.
It is very obvious to a GAMSAT essay marker when a student attempts to discuss a theme they do not fully comprehend or replicate a prescribed style they have not mastered. This category of GAMSAT students is heavily penalised.
Nevertheless, it is not impossible to achieve top marks with written pieces exploring unorthodox formats. If you have extensive experience in the creative writing field, try experimenting with monologues, narratives or even poetry (ensuring that you complement it with a thorough discussion of your point or argument – not to be confused with an analysis of the poem you wrote).
If any of these styles permit a clear, and sophisticated discussion of themes and perspectives, then Section 2 essay marking will reward you with a high GAMSAT score.
Regardless of which writing style you employ, you should endeavour to explore positive values (such as fairness, equality or hopefulness) of the future, especially if you’re discussing the bleaker aspects of humanity. Essentially, having polarity within your argument conveys a worldly perspective and in some ways adds depth and character to your essay.
To this end, Matt Keyter, a lead GAMSAT humanities tutor at Fraser’s advises that “Being bleak about the human species and misanthropic about the future doesn’t bode well in any essay rhetoric.” After all, the GAMSAT essay markers are selecting the next generation of doctors, so consider which values you wish to convey to your audience!
In order for candidates to get a better understanding of the style, and substance of GAMSAT Section 2, Fraser’s GAMSAT has put together a set of GAMSAT Section 2 example essays, demonstrating the standard of writing to achieve a range of Section 2 scores.