Section 2 Topic Exploration

GAMSAT Section 2: How Stories can Breathe Life into GAMSAT Part B essays

Is writing personal Part B essays a challenge? Consider how you could weave stories to reflect upon your own experiences and the GAMSAT theme of beauty.

Stories connect us together as a community. It is also stories which can showcase your personality and your understanding of yourself and the world.

Part B essays are typically based on personal and social issues (e.g. loneliness, happiness, pride, childhood) and whilst it can be done using the style mentioned here, an exemplar piece will be able to weave a narrative which is interesting and astute. The stories contained within are reflective, insightful and allow the reader to know more about you as a writer.

Follow the steps below to craft a story and essay worth 80+ on the topic of BEAUTY.

1. Weave your experiences into a story

We are often drawn to stories which builds to a thrilling climax and a satisfying conclusion. Often, we like to use our imagination to do this and at other times to have it told passively to us.

Inherent within both is a desire to be moved by a story, either emotionally or viscerally, by a tender tale of humanity and redemption. Think about Shakespeare and his plays – how he was able to entertain us through laughter, action and horror. Not a lot has changed in the centuries since, and we are going to emulate this.

Consider the topic of BEAUTY. A potential way of starting your essay includes a creative or recount of an experience you had when you were in high school.

An example:

Daisy was the embodiment of perfection. Glossy hair, manicured hands and groomed eyebrows – she had the whole package. Whilst she was not Mean Girls popular by virtue of her beauty, she was in all cases popular in terms of the number of friends she had as well as her friendliness, intelligence and conscientiousness.

Here, Daisy is used as a foil (character which can be used to contrast against the qualities of others) through which we can examine the concept of beauty and what it really means, e.g.

  1. How media and marketing can create delusions of what beauty means
  2. The need to consider the concept of beauty in multiple dimensions rather than purely via superficial appearances.

Each of these items could form potential paragraphs that can be elaborated upon with examples.

Alternative introduction:

I am a product of my society. From curvy bodies to paper-thin waistlines and perfect proportions, my perception of beauty used to be based off celebrities and fashion icons that grace the cover of Vogue. Whilst it is evident that the images are fabricated, altered and photoshopped, I cannot help but subconsciously want to live up to my society’s standard of beauty.

From here, you’d discussed how and why your ideas of beauty have changed since.

2. Build ideas by reflecting on your experience

The power of your essay will rely upon your ability to elicit empathy within the reader so that they they feel like they understand you and your experiences.

Storytelling here plays an important role, as it allows the audience to live vicariously through the characters. The best stories are cathartic in nature – where the audience is brought on a journey of emotions, feel the same excitement, fear, anger, thrill and make a final realisation in the end. Whilst this might be difficult to write in 30 minutes, you can integrate some elements within your structure.

When reflecting upon the topic of BEAUTY, a potential paragraph could begin like so:

Our perception of beauty today has been largely shaped by the media. They come in the form of photoshopped celebrities or stick-thin fashion models that are unrealistic and unattainable. When these images bombard our screens from a young age, it is therefore no surprise that there is rising anxiety amongst young teenage girls about their self-image.

However, what people often fail to understand is that true beauty is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside. Weight loss pills, home gyms, and shake weights are not guarantors of reduced weight… Our youth needs to learn to differentiate between the what is the norm and make decisions that would be appropriate for them.

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3. Choose your message well

In reflecting upon your story, show how they allow for a better understanding of where you came from and who you are now.

Potential conclusion:

However, beauty is not just skin deep. It is all around us, only if we look for it. Beauty can be seen in nature – in the way that weeds grow unperturbed amongst concrete blocks or the way the waves perpetually ebb and flow against the sandy shoreline. We only live but once, and if done right, we can experience all the beauty life has to offer us.

Alternative conclusion:

Giving up social media altogether might be too big of an ask for most people. However, adding some #bodypositive content, delicious food or cute dogs on your Instagram feed might just help you to remember there’s more to life than what you look like.

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