04 January, 2018
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When I look back on my own GAMSAT study/ journey/ trauma, undoubtedly my favorite part was working on idea banks. Possibly because I used it as a procrastination tool, but also because I found widening my horizons immensely interesting.
Having a wide arching, dynamic and interesting idea bank for GAMSAT Section 2 is crucial to your overall GAMSAT Preparation. Having interesting topics to write about can ultimately break or make the essays that you write. ACER tells us that originality is one of the modalities they mark under, being able to create a piece that the essay marker enjoys reading greatly enhances your marks, and it’s not hard to see why.
For example, take my stomping ground, Adelaide, we have approximately 500 people sit the March GAMSAT here. Imagine a set of quotes on standing up to tyranny/ oppression etc. A large proportion of people will likely fall into the trap of writing about clichés such as Hitler, WW1, and similar high school history topics. Therefore, the essay markers in Adelaide could mark literally hundreds of similar repetitive essays. Not only does it get repetitive and boring, but they are then subconsciously comparing your essay to every similar essay, something you’d likely want to avoid. If you can pull strong, unique examples to support your arguments you will demonstrate a large knowledge base and will stimulate the essay markers. You WANT to do this and need to do this to score highly in section II. Now we know we should build up our knowledge base, where do we begin?
Building a coherent, robust and fascinating idea bank doesn’t mean a panicked run down to the local library or watching conspiracy vloggers on YouTube. While you can do the aforementioned, it can be done in a systematic way. Create general areas you want to expand your knowledge in. This can include categories such as:
Business/ Finance/ Economy
These categories allow you to build ideas in a deliberate way, covering a broad spectrum of topics. This is necessary; you can’t rely on a highly detailed bundle of ideas within a niche, GAMSAT essays can be on anything. You can find some GAMSAT essay examples here.
Books, News, Websites, Conversations, Essays, Movies
Ok so we want to build up some ideas, we’ve targeted some general areas, so how do we progress now? Well, this is the best part, because you can really use any medium that you find the most engaging.
I actually embedded it into different aspects of my day, so every day I would have a morning tea break and I would go on websites such as The Conversation, VICE news, ABC news, SBS etc. My personal favorite, and which I have plugged to numerous students is The Conversation, it’s an outlet run by University academics writing in lay terms with links to articles if your interests drive you to read more. In the months preceding the GAMSAT, I also moved away from regular TV programs and towards watching more engaging programs such as QnA, Insiders, Insight etc. In addition, any shows that have a certain amount of depth and substance to them (not necessarily these programs) can be beneficial and include anything from Netflix documentaries to You-tubers. It’s just about slipping in a way to expand your idea bank into your regular leisure time, thereby making it more productive. Many people recommend reading classic texts, while this may be of benefit for GAMSAT Section 1, isn’t particularly high yield for GAMSAT Section 2 in my opinion.
Finally, an area that I really had to push myself in was expanding my boundaries and looking for views outside of my own bubble. This meant reading news sources and columnists in the weekend papers I didn’t particularly like. Not only did this offer insight into differing views and experiences, but it allowed me to practice argument development.