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Breaking Down the GAMSAT: Essay Section for ESL Students
http://www.uaseducation.com/articles/909/1/Breaking-Down-the-GAMSAT-Essay-Section-for-ESL-Students/Page1.html
Shantanu Sikdar
With over 8 years of experience in teaching and training, I have done extensive work in designing assessment tests and creating test content for a great variety of competitive exams. I am helping GAMSAT, UKCAT, Subject GRE, LNAT aspirants to succeed in their respective exams. 
By Shantanu Sikdar
Published on January 22, 2010
 
Even with many test preparation tools available, many aspirants of the GAMSAT struggle with the essays in Section II. The ones to face the biggest fears in this section are the Science and English-as-Second-Language (ESL) students. Therefore, it is important to understand what writing of these essays is all about.

Breaking Down the GAMSAT: Essay Section for ESL Students

Even with many test preparation tools available, many aspirants of the GAMSAT struggle with the essays in Section II. The ones to face the biggest fears in this section are the Science and English-as-Second-Language (ESL) students. Therefore, it is important to understand what writing of these essays is all about.

The first step to writing the GAMSAT essay is to figure out the two sets of quotations given in the GAMSAT paper.  Set A will usually have a political or a philosophical theme. Here, the test taker assumes that as a socially aware individual you will be able to write the essay. Your answer must be analytical or argumentative in nature and must present your perspective in a very logical manner. Examples of this kind of theme range from poverty to education to censorship.

The second set of essay quotations will usually be on a more personal or social theme that is subjective. The theme will be such that you can relate to it by means of life experiences. Here, you must present your opinion and support it with references and anecdotes, if possible. If you can remember anything said about the topic in the media in the recent past you may also make a mention of that. In 2007, Humour was the theme.  Other examples can include hatred, youth, laughter, honesty, self-discovery etc. It is worth noting that with these topics you cannot really make an argument so your essay has to explore and be reflective on the theme.

Since 2004, you are given the option of responding to just one quote or multiple quotes. It might be a good idea if you refer to more than one quote in your essay, as the underlying principle of all five quotes may be the same.

The criterion of assessment is primarily the quality of thought expressed in the essay. You are judged on whether you have understood the topic and whether you are able to express those ideas logically in a steady stream of thought development. The quality of language and structure is only the secondary criterion of assessment. This means that your ideas and the ability to express them are way more important than writing the Queen’s English.

This means that by knowing and using this fact an ESL student can do as well as any other student who has studied English as a native language. This is because the ESL candidate may be able to express an original and relevant idea and structure the essay in a manner that projects him/her as articulate and possessing the relevant qualities that GAMSAT is looking for in a potential medical practitioner.

In short, both native and ESL students have an equally good chance of writing a winning GAMSAT essay if they are able to think with reason and logic and structure their essay in a manner that brings out these ideas in the most effective manner. All that ESL students must do, therefore, is to practise as many essays as possible and read up a wide variety of literature in order to understand how to best express their thoughts for maximum effect.