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  1. #1
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    section 2 essay question

    Hi everyone,

    I have attempted my first essay question in preparation for section 2 of the GAMSAT. I would appreciate it if anyone could give me some feedback please? I am not sure if what I have included is relevant to the title but I've tried my best. Also if anyone who has sat the GAMSAT In recent years could please tell me what essay titles they answered or what kind of essay titles there were. Thank you.

    "Speaking generally, punishment hardens and numbs, it produces concentration. It sharpens consciousness of alienation, it strengthens the power of resistance".

    This quote emphasises the effect of using punishment on ones behaviour. It points out that punishment acts as a form of discipline whereby it alters an individual's behaviour so that they are obtain more control over their actions. For example, this is often used in schools whereby children receive punishment in the form of detentions and warnings as a consequence of misbehaviour. This punishment is used to have an effect by encouraging the pupils to concentrate in class and resist doing things that will get them in to trouble.

    An example of this punishment involves the use of canes that were once used by teachers in schools on children who did not concentrate in class or who were disobedient. This form of punishment had proven to be successful in strengthening the power of resistance to performing actions that they know will cause them to be punished. In comparison to modern day punishment where the cane is no longer used and the consequences are reflected by children being disobedient to teachers, lacking concentration in class and becoming easily distracted.

    In addition, as a punishment of crime, some individuals who are sent to prison also develop resistance to performing further crime because criminals may not want to spend time in prison especially if they have family commitments. The acknowledgement of possible punishment such as jail harden and numbs, sharpens the consciousness of alienation and influences an individuals future actions.

    On the other hand, it can be argued that punishment is ineffective in causing these changes in an individual. For example, punishment of a child by their parents in the form of taking away their toys when they become disobedient. This can lead to the child becoming angry and rebellious rather than having effect to increase the child's power of resistance to doing unacceptable things. This is evident from parents who become stressed and unable to cope with handling their children and therefore require a nanny to help with childcare. This is further supported by use of punishment in schools having a negative impact on the child's behaviour. For example, the use of verbal warnings at pupils often results in the pupil answering back at the teacher in front of their peers as they feel embarrassed for being told off.

    Furthermore, punishment may also create more anger in an individual rather than having a positive impact. For example, bad experiences within prison such as witnessing aggressive behaviour from other criminals or even experiencing abuse themselves can have a negative impact on that individual. This is evident from the high numbers of criminals who leave prison and the commit more crimes and consequently end up back in prison.

    In conclusion, punishment can have a positive impact on an individuals behaviour in some cases by producing concentration for example in the classroom, and increase power of resistance in situations of crime and within the family home as shown in previous examples. However, depending on the form of punishment it may result in a negative effect instead. Therefore punishment does not always change an individual in these ways.



  2. #2
    res
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    Good job on this, I know people tend to hate the essay section of the GAMSAT! I was lucky to study a humanity so it was definitely my best section, but the time constraints meant that I still struggled on the day. Your essay makes some really good points, but the best way to tie them together is with a coherent argument. At the moment all the ideas are floating around with all the 'for' arguments at the start and all the 'against' arguments at the end showing that you've thought about them but not that you've thought about how they relate to each other.

    Think about the quote; do you personally agree with it? Do you disagree? Think of your essay as trying to convince the examiner of something. They're looking for someone who is able to succinctly and logically present their ideas in a way that draws you in, like a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It doesn't matter which way you're arguing, so long as you're doing it in a sensible way.

    Start with an introduction, present a rough outline of your ideas (and don't be afraid to use first person, I know a lot of people are told not to do this at school, but it makes things a lot easier). Move on to look at a couple of issues in depth, and with each idea look at the positive and negative at the same time. Highlight which side of the argument you're on and why, each time. Wrap things up at the end with a conclusion that draws all of these arguments together, and sums up why you believe what you believe.

    It couldn't hurt to complexify your arguments to show that you've really thought about the issue. In this case, how does punishment in schools and prisons affect wider society? Do pupils who were caned now think it should be brought back or are they happy it's gone (remember that those who brought in the new legislation would have been caned at school)? In prisons around the world punishment is approached differently- some countries stone people who break laws, some focus on rehabilitation of criminals and spend money teaching them new skills that they can use when they're released. In the UK, many people are annoyed that prisoners have Sky tv and PlayStations and access to higher education. In the US, people are annoyed that prisoners are used as slave labour and many trivial crimes can land you in prison for a disproportionate amount of time. Both countries think torture is wrong, but both have been found to torture terror suspects. Is all this a good thing or a bad thing?

    One of the tricks I used was to pick a philosopher or politician and learn a few quotes off by heart. In this case Michel Foucault would be ideal as he wrote a lot about discipline and punishment and many institutions (schools and prisons) have taken his ideas to heart. If you can't be bothered to research famous sociologists (fair enough!), I've found that Margaret Thatcher will always have a quote or two that you can make relevant somehow. Her most famous is thankfully also her most general: "there is no such thing as society". You could easily twist that to make it relevant to this essay, it doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with her politics.

    Also, in reference to your earlier question on this forum, you don't have to pick a quote and stick with it. All the quotes will be talking about roughly the same issue. In my exam one set of quotes was about modern technology so I came up with my own question about whether technology saves us time or wastes more time than it's worth. I think it's much easier to do this as you're less constrained by the topic and a bit more free to write about what you know.

    Hope all this helps, and good luck!

    EDIT: Also, forgot to add, make sure you read the quote carefully. In this case it's pretty ambiguous, but I would say that it's saying punishment is generally ineffective. Strengthening the power of resistance in a prisoner is something a prison warden definitely would not want! It seems like you've taken that to mean resistance to committing any future crime. Like I said it's not totally clear, so you're not wrong, but do be aware that it can be read another way.
    Last edited by res; 06-08-2013 at 02:57 PM.

  3. #3
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    Hi Res, Thank you for taking the time to read my essay, the feedback you gave was great and has definitely helped. I'll be sure to remember these things for my next essay
    Are you taking the GAMSAT again this year?

    Yes that was what I was worried about, not interpreting the quote correctly. I have looked at some of the quotes from the practice paper and I find it difficult to understand what they actually mean.
    I hope the quotes are straight forward on the day!
    Last edited by jessica ahmed; 06-08-2013 at 06:13 PM.

  4. #4
    res
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    Nope I'm starting at Nottingham in September- just thought I'd see if anyone needed GAMSAT help; someone helped me last year so I thought I'd return the favour!

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    That's great! I want to go to Nottingham
    What marks did you get on the 3 sections? If you don't mind me asking?
    section 3 is the best section for probably because I am a science student I find sections 1 and 2 harder.

  6. #6
    res
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    I got 68 in section 1, 72 in section 2 and 60 in section 3. Obviously the science section was the one I lost sleep over, but anything is possible with hard work. The more you practice these essays (and the more essays/papers you read) the better you'll do.

  7. #7
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    Congrats, you did great! What did you use for preparation? I read somewhere that the guardian is supposed to be helpful. Did you find the practice paper similar to the real test or easier/harder?

  8. #8
    res
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    The practice papers were very similar to the real thing on sections 1 and 2, but section 3 seemed more difficult on the day. Prep-wise, like I said I studied a humanities subject so I didn't really focus on preparing my essay and section 1 (plus I read the Guardian and the Times anyway ). I ran through a couple of timed practices a few days before the real thing, and that was about it (section 3 was a different story of course)!

    Generally, having an idea of wider current affairs and sociological issues is always going to help for an essay about society, but probably the best way to write an intelligent-sounding essay is to read other people's intelligent-sounding essays and practicing until you're blue in the face. That's pretty much what my degree boiled down to after all

  9. #9
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    I will have to get searching for some intelligent-sounding essays then
    What was your degree?
    Are you looking forward to starting medical school?
    And how did you find the interview?

  10. #10
    res
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    My degree was in English lit. I am seriously looking forward to starting medical school, I think it's only just starting to sink in that I actually got an offer, despite the fact it came through in April. Nottingham have just sent us through a welcome pack with professional guidelines and introductory anatomy stuff to learn, so it's all pretty exciting.

    The interview process generally was stressful of course, interviews are never fun. Also there are a few scare stories floating around. In my experience though, most of the admin staff and interviewers at Nottingham, Swansea, George's and Exeter were extremely friendly, and I got the sense that most of them wanted to see us succeed. Obviously can't go into details about questions asked, and I'm definitely no expert on what medical school interviewers are looking for, but if you're able to control your nerves to some extent and be yourself on the day, then you're probably off to a good start

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