New Member
Hi all, lots of people seem to have written some really interesting essays in their GAMSAT exams. I'd be hugely interested to know what other people wrote and how they scored, not the full text, just a précis.

I scored 70 in the essay section.
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New Member
Here's my first, to paraphrase as I can't remember the details:

The individual freedom vs legislation in society essay

1. Governments must strike a balance between individual freedom and legislation, individualism and collectivism.
2. In a society like the UK we tend to legislate over health matters such as smoking since we have an NHS and therefore effectively collective ownership over the nation's health (I don't necessary agree with this point). Quote from CS Lewis about battle ships in a convoy. If one misbehaves the whole convoy is at risk.
3. The US errs more towards individual freedoms and has no NHS. Quote from Ayn Rand about individual achievement being the highest good.
4. Conclusion there's no one best way, it depends on the social context.

Here I show one example and then a counter example and conclude that neither is perfect, it depends on the social context.


New Member
I think I've blanked out Gamsat day as I don't even remember what themes I wrote my essays on! I scored 79 in Section II which was a surprise.


New Member
I got 70 in Section 2, as far as I can remember I used the Jefferson quote to argue in favour of federalism, and the second one was about how it's our pastimes and hobbies rather than our professions which better define who we are (can't remember the quote)


New Member
Second Essay:

My second set of quote were to do with the media. Looks like different people got different sets of quotes.

The media produces only rubbish and we are drowning in it essay.

1. The rise of the internet has reduced the budgets available to commercial broadcasters resulting in reduced standards and sensationalism.
2. The internet allows people to produce their own media, most of which is also rubbish.
3. There is therefore a lot of rubbish.
4. New media allows us to filter rubbish. The same technology that created the problem also solves it as producers are also critics, moderators, voters and retweeters, eg twitter, technorati, etc.
5. Conclusion: the media does produce a lot of rubbish and this is due in large part to new technology. However the same technology allows filtering so we are not drowning in it.

So the statement, though part true is irrelevant.


New Member
I got 71, my first essay title was "is libertarianism a viable political alternative?" and second was simply "Are news broadcasts a form of entertainment?"

I can't remember much of the content, but I got quite ranty in both!


New Member
i got 87 but my memories of the actual content are quite hazy!

think my first essay was about what constitutes a good government or something along those lines. brought in stuff like the lisbon treaty in ireland (is a govt putting a treaty to election twice because first time we gave the 'wrong' answer appropriate even if the end result of that treaty may have beneficial - and arguably also detrimental - effects on our current flailing economy?) and also the american debate about healthcare (surely a good government is one which ensures healthcare is available to all citizens, yet what happens when a certain proportion of those citizens disagree, particularly when they've elected these individuals to represent them?). discussed the need for balancing often opposing interests without either being irresponsible, overbearing or self interested. etc.

did this one too:

The media produces only rubbish and we are drowning in it essay.
but took the opposite argument and said stuff like the media has always had a sizeable interest in 'rubbish' and things like celebrity, technology has just increased our exposure to it. improved technology has ensured that anything we are interested in is now immediately accessible and allows us to engage with a multitude of our interests without a fear of conflict or reproach. also talked about the role of new media and how immediate they can be in contrast to the traditional media routes which are losing the ability to recruit or pay staff to investigate things properly but that role is being taken up by the bloggers etc whose very existence - for the good ones anyway - depends on chasing up the details and inviting debate. the return of the 'community journalist' even if that community now skims the globe and may be slightly myopic in viewpoint. what constitutes 'news'? becoming a much broader and yet individually specific term and defines anything which we personally find newsworthy. people are complex beings who enjoy engaging with all kinds of information; i read perez hilton but i also read the economist etc.

sorry, it was put together better then that but i basically used a couple of examples and argued the second essay fairly informally and personally :)

have to say i enjoyed the titles on the paper far more then the acer titles but it's definitely all about practice! mine weren't the most academic or wordy by a long shot but i think they got the point across and i read broadly (particularly about current affairs and culture) which came out in them.


New Member
Interesting. I think being abreast of current affairs is really key to a good score. I used TED: Ideas worth spreading extensively while I was revising (and also for fun) so I was able to talk about how twitter prevented the chinese authorities from denying the last earthquake.

When I'm writing an essay I always try to have a contiguous argument that develops over the course of the essay, something that can be said in a few sentences but which gets fleshed out with examples and counterexamples. I'm starting to think that this sort of structure is less relevant in the Gamsat because of examiner time constraints. What do you think?

Spin doctor

New Member
Something about that the government has to interfere to some extent, then something about the media being a reflection of society. Thought i'd bombed as by 'media' i just spoke about tv a lot, and actually thought my essays were pretty poor and devoid of structure or any real direction, but got 70. If I was marking them it'd probably be more like a 30!


New Member
I did one essay and 1 paragraph of the other, and somehow got 61. Wish I'd applied to more GAMSAT unis now....

Rehashed a load of stuff from my BA about the high art : low art dichotomy in the good one, the other was going to be a discussion of society and freedom but just ended up being a wanky paragraph or so about the relative modernity of the notion of social freedom.


New Member
I think HeavenlyJohnson is bang on with the need for the essays to be really sort of current-affairsy. I think it's the concrete examples to support your arguments that make it a good essay for GAMSAT markers - I think as soon as you start talking in the abstract (or according to one guide I read, start making big sweeping statements or trite rhetorical questions like 'Is this all humanity is good for?), this is what loses marks.

I got an 85. My essays were:

Big Government vs Small Government
- I made a massive generalisation (!) and talked about the UK Government - labour as 'big state', Tories as small state, to place it in a current context
- Argued for big state as legislation would have prevented current financial meltdown
- Argued for small state as lowering taxes, on flip of a coin, would remove fiscal deficit the financial meltdown has caused
- Talked about healthcare - big state legislation for smoking, broader benefit
- Talked about small state - places onus on individual, and individual responsibility
- whacked out a thatcher quote
- concluded for big state as preferable as duty of the wealthy to provide for the poorer, as individualism removes collective responsibility for those less able to provide for themselves

Is the media nothing but rubbish and does this damage democracy?
- Media is, in the main, owned by corporations who must derive shareholder value from advertising -eg. NewsCorp
- To create more ad impacts, the media must be absorbed by more people
- To drive readership, media has often become obsessed than entertainment and trash - eg. free newspapers distributed in london, obsessed with celebrity
- By failing to cover and interrogate the news, this hinders democracy
- HOWEVER the media cn still hold democratic institutions to account
- Telegraph in MPs exes scandal
- Guardian in the G8 police beating
- Therefore not all media is rubbish and it does act to uplhold democracy
- But there's still entertainment value in these stories - especially MPs expenses - 'worthy' journalism is still entertainment
- To conclude, there is a lot of rubbish, but there's also decent journalism
- But centrally, newspaper readerships are defined by what we as an audience want to read - if we are obsessed with celebrity that's what WE'LL get, and the damage to democracy is public fault, not the media's.



New Member
So it seems the tricks to writing a great Gamsat essay are:

1. Make sure it scans well
2. Include lots of politics and current affairs
3. Make it fairly shouty


New Member
I am preparing to sit the gamsat next autumn and this is the section I am most worried about.

I like heavenlyjohnson's approach :)


New Member
I can't for the life of me remember the quotes that I used, but agree on the current affairs point. I'd been spending a lot of time leading up to the exam procrastinating on Reddit, so the Obama health reform/teabaggers posts that kept appearing on there came in very handy. I believe that the quotation was something like you can't have freedom and a strong government, or something vaguely along those lines.

The second quote I used a load of psychology stuff for. I think the quote was something like people choose their entertainment and these choices make them who they are. Which I argued was a good example of the social learning concept of reciprocal determinism. Gave a few examples of studies showing that behaviours are not purely nature/nurture, threw a load of jargon about and tried to sound intelligent. Must've worked, because I got 70, though at the time I was thinking "omg, this is crap..."


New Member
Do you guys mind if I cross post your essay plans on my blog? I'm trying to write something to help future GAMSATers with their essays.


New Member
my essay plan was totally half assed there but if you want it use it go ahead! your site is a godsend to future gamsat-ees and i concur with mrdell, you seem like a thoroughly nice human being/dr in the making!


New Member
my essay plan was totally half assed there but if you want it use it go ahead! your site is a godsend to future gamsat-ees and i concur with mrdell, you seem like a thoroughly nice human being/dr in the making!
Thanks Zepplin, that's so kind :) Would you like me to credit you in any way? Provide a link back to your profile page here or anything?