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GAMSAT Section 1: How to Interpret Cartoons, Literature and Poetry?

Published on
March 29, 2024

It is no coincidence that GAMSAT Section 1 is the first section you attempt on GAMSAT day. Despite many speculations around the legitimacy of the humanities stimuli, GAMSAT poetry, cartoons and literary prose are well established to gauge your emotional intelligence competencies. 

How To Study for GAMSAT Section 1? 

There is no way to predict the dominant theme you would be questioned on when it comes to GAMSAT Section 1: Reasoning in humanities and social sciences. At times, you may have to encounter one technical text after another that could be extracted from a scientific journal or from convoluted political data. In complete contrast, you may have to make logical sense of a visual-depiction, for example, a cartoon titled ‘Spineless Leaders of Democracy’, which could be ambiguous in representation. Hence, there is a wide spectrum of text types that you must be prepared to tackle during the GAMSAT.

In order to best prepare for Section 1, you need to understand that the presence of Cartoons, Literature and GAMSAT Poetry is intended to measure your interpretation skills and how you dissect redundant information. These are highly essential aspects for a future doctor, to make logical sense out of vaguely defined information. In this article, we shall provide useful websites and methods to prepare for Section 1 and understand how this section is not an arbitrary hurdle in the GAMSAT.. 

GAMSAT Poetry Questions and How to Study For It?

Poetry analysis is a test of your emotional intelligence and how you channel them in your final judgment. During poetry analysis, you have to be a critical thinker rather than an over-thinker. By interpreting poetry in the latter sense, you are actually losing out on time and may stray away from the tone of the poem. 

In saying so, as a reader, resonating with the emotional appeal of the poetry is important in connecting with the author’s thought process. Unlike other literary devices, poetry is built on expressions and themes that make you feel a certain way. This ‘gut feeling’ that emerges during your interpretation is the foundation for you to develop the narrative theory behind the poetry. 

To develop this outwardly perspective, our GAMSAT Section 1 mentors recommend students to be active on ‘Medium’ or ‘AllPoetry’, websites for poem enthusiasts that hosts a range of classic, short and famous poems.

To perfect your interpretation of the sonnets, a highly  recommended way is to read, read, and read different poetic-themes to understand what assonance (bunch of similar vowel sounds), alliteration (usage of consonants in a row), or onomatopoeias (the use of sound effects to define a particular word) express within a poem. Only then can you positively interpret the poems on the GAMSAT exam day.

How to Analyse Cartoon’s in GAMSAT Section 1?

Cartoons are easy-to-perceive yet layered sketches that serve both the visual and figurative essence for viewers. Despite having one or two cartoon questions on average in the GAMSAT, past test-sitters have found cartoons to be highly deceptive, similar to GAMSAT poetry. There is no definite rulebook around cartoon interpretation, however the animation has an unique way of communicating emotions and ideas, i.e., through characters and their dialogue. 

To draw an accurate sense of what the cartoon is displaying, you have to first analyse the overall ambience to determine where the characters originate from; once you learnt their background, you focus on the character’s action, body-language and their conversations. By implementing this two-step analytical thinking, you derive the theme of the cartoon, whether it is satirical or comical and so on.

Although pictorial representation can be easy on the eyes, they could also be misleading if you are not familiar with capturing the emotional façade of animation. As always, practice is the optimal choice to improve your perceiving skills as you cannot organise your ideas in a cartoon without regularly interpreting them. 

ACER typically chooses cartoons from the Conde Naste New Yorker to appear in the GAMSAT exam. Besides, we advise you to follow the New Yorker on their Instagram page as they are known to post different cartoons on a regular basis. This could expose you to an array of cartoon-themes that could potentially make your interpretation easier on GAMSAT exam day. Moreover, popular E-news sources like ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Week’ or  ‘Pinterest’ are suitable sources that can tinkle your creative process and help improve your visual interpretation for Section 1 humanities.

GAMSAT Literature Review: How to interpret Literary Prose?

In complete contrast to what you may encounter in technical texts that are more direct and factual statements, literary prose is on a completely different spectrum. Literary prose often includes works of fiction, non-fiction and other written material that has a unique composition style. In simple terms, literary prose has a combination of simple and complex vocabulary infused into the writing and targets the general population. 

Unlike poetry that caters to a specific emotion or has rhythmic flow in getting to its ultimate meaning, in prose you basically have metaphors, imagery and straightforward references which encourage you to dive deeper than just literally interpreting its essence. This is one of the reasons why ‘prose’ in GAMSAT Section 1 stands to be less broad in its representation and more focused on the storyline, character point-of-view and their motives.

Furthermore, in literary prose, you come across less jargon-y sentences which allows more scope for reflection on the given passages and questions. A highly recommended website that can attune your interpretation of literary prose would be ‘The Gutenberg Project’ that hosts heaps of classic novels by famous authors before the 1950s and theme-driven short stories for free of cost.

All that is expected of you is to devote at least 20-minutes of reading time on a daily basis to understand the archaic language, so you wouldn't be in the dark when you encounter it during your GAMSAT exam.

GAMSAT Section 1 Final Tips

GAMSAT, established as a highly challenging exam, is also ever-evolving when it comes to variety in question-styles. Hence, the reason behind the inclusion of such vast literary components in Section 1.

Dissecting the meaning and context behind Cartoons, Poetry and Literary Prose can be a lot more tricky if you don’t gain access to the best GAMSAT preparation material. We hope the aforementioned websites and sources will be a good starting point for those who are fairly new to the GAMSAT space. 

Having said that, some final Section 1 strategies that could be implemented alongside referring to these literary components would be:

  1. Get into the habit of keeping a dictionary beside you while reading a novel. This significantly improves your vocabulary and also uncovers new words and phrases that you could use while writing Section 2 essays.
  2. Seek help from your peers, family or even GAMSAT experts who could provide you with alternate perspectives on a particular poem or passage, which could in turn open your mind to a spectrum of fresh ideas.
  3. Enhancing your speed reading technique can modify your reading habits and can help you sift through sentences much more efficiently. This reading tool is generally recommended to succeed in Section 1 as you learn to focus and read sentences the first time rather than having to re-read it numerous times.
  4. Identify the motive behind the given reading material. 
  5. Train your brain with impression, association and repetition, the three ground rules for efficient reading. This way your brain is tailored to retain focus and identify the relevance in the written material.
  6. Gain access to philosophical writing, which is more ambiguous and presents a bunch of complicated ideas. By trying to dissect such convoluted material, you strengthen your grasp of identifying the narrative theory, which leads you to the author’s perspective and why the texts are the way they are.