Re: GAMSAT Section 1 Reading Tips
Like many a GAMSAT candidates before you, you may be wondering how to best prepare for section I. It may seem like a daunting task, and you may be wondering what in fact you can do to feel more capable of answering the endless brainteasers that section I seems to provide. Obviously practice questions are critical, and you should get your hands on as many of these as possible. However, section I is also testing your ability to read effectively and efficiently, so it makes sense to put some time into honing your reading skills in the lead up to the exam.
Tip #1: Read, read and read some more (even if you don’t enjoy it or think that you are not improving)
Obviously reading is a skill that is developed over many years of practice, and not an ability that you can reform overnight. However, the more you read, the better you become at obtaining the most essential pieces of information, and picking up on the more subtle aspects of a text. Reading extensively will also help you in section II, as the more you read the more you learn and are able to emulate effective styles of writing that you have encountered.
Tip #2: Make a list and start a ‘text library’
Make a list of the different text types that appear in section I, including poetry, argumentative pieces (e.g. essays, letters to the editor etc.), excerpts from fictional works (short stories, novels etc.), song lyrics, plays, cartoons (often political) and diagrams. In section I you are presented with a variety of different text types, and part of the challenge is being able to interpret them confidently and accurately. Once you have made your list (and you can add to it as you study and encounter new text types), get yourself a scrap-book (or folder on your ipad/ tablet/ whatever) and start collecting examples of the text types you have identified.
Tip #3: Use your library to practice your reading and textual interpretation skills
Read each of the texts that you have collected, and afterwards, ask yourself the following questions and document the answers:
- What is the purpose of the text? (E.g. To persuade, inform etc.)
- Who wrote the text and what were they trying to achieve?
- How does the writer’s context influence the meaning of the text?
- How does your context as the reader of the text influence the text’s meaning?
- Could I represent the ideas conveyed in a flow chart?
- What is the overall meaning of the text and how does this compare to the meaning conveyed by its individual components? (E.g. The idea contained in the individual components of an essay versus the overall thesis of the essay.)
Tip #4: If there is a text type that you struggle with, read more of it!
If you typically struggle with poetry, find examples of poetry online and also read criticisms and appraisals of the same works, in order to compare the meaning you obtained from a text with the meaning obtained by someone else. If you tend to struggle with older texts, find some novels written 50 years ago and read these. Once you are comfortable, look for something from the last century, and practice reading this. The more you expose yourself to a text type that you find challenging, the better you will become at interpreting that type of text in the exam.
I hope these tips assist you in your section I preparation.
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