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Tutorial: Vocabulary For GAMSAT Section 1

There is a subset of questions on GAMSAT Section 1 which specifically tests vocabulary.

These questions are structured in relation to the passages in such a way that it is very difficult to infer an unambiguous meaning of the key words without having a prior understanding of them.

Some forms these questions might take include:

  • According to X, Y has a tendency to be:
  • In comparison with X, Y is:
  • This diagram represents X as:
  • The word/phrase ‘X’ suggests/connotes:
  • The word X (line p) is closest in meaning to:
  • Which of the following descriptions best fits X:
  • X is portrayed as:
  • X treats Y with:

The above list is far from exhaustive, but I’m sure you get the general idea.

Today I ran through every official (ACER) GAMSAT sample paper I could find and highlighted all the questions that roughly resembled one of the above formats. I then picked out the words which were crucial to the comprehension of both the question and the answers in the cases where the meanings of the words could not necessarily be inferred from the passage. The following is a list of the keywords I came across:

Malicious, explicitly, ingenious, stringent, legitimate, asymmetrical, idealistic, benevolent/benevolence, random, objective, foreseeable, subjective, inexplicable, contention, unavoidable, affectual, efficiency, naïve, precedent, sympathetic, terse, ironic, shrewd, tolerant, judgemental, perceptive, pragmatic, artificial, ideological, palatable, inappropriate, interchangeable, logical, symbolic, philosophical, conventional, moral, altruistic, rational, sentimental, intuitive, intimate, conformist, permissive, liberal, economical, devious, calculating, eager, tiresome, insistent, evasive, arduous, hedonistic, transcendent, utilitarian, transitory, illusionary, imponderable.

Notice anything? ….Almost all of them are adjectives!

The rest are adverbs (the adjective’s ugly cousin!)

Bottom line: if you want to improve your vocabulary for GAMSAT Section 1, learn adjectives.

Don’t just read arbitrary newspaper articles in the hope that you will absorb some new big words. Get into a thesaurus (a book of synonyms, different ways of saying the same thing) and spend a few minutes a day learning a couple of new adjectives. In a few weeks time you will be amazed at the difference it will make to both your ability to answer questions and your understanding of the passages themselves.

The passage below is an extract from Charlotte Bingham’s ‘In Sunshine Or In Shadow’

In the great hall a game of cricket was in progress, with a full complement of players, and an attentive and appreciative crowd of deck-chaired spectators.

‘What fun,’ Artemis remarked as they arrived and Hugo fielded a well struck cover drive. ‘I wish we’d had some of these sort of things at home.’

‘Was your house as big as this?’ Ellie wondered as they explored all the rooms.

‘Yes,’ Artemis replied. ‘Bigger really. And it was always full of people. But nothing ever really went on, nothing fun.

There was music, too, besides Babs’s sombre organ recitals, to which none of the guests paid the slightest attention. There was a danceband in the dining hall, and a trio of violin, accordion and flute in the kitchen, playing Gaelic music to which an enormous red-bearded man would sing at irregular intervals, lifting one foot to knee height in order to stamp in time on the floor.

1 – The character of Artemis is portrayed in the passage as:

  • A Affluent
  • B Mercurial
  • C Endearing
  • D Self-deprecating

Highlight the text below to reveal the answer:

Answer: A
Affluent is another word for wealthy or rich.
“‘Was your house as big as this?’ Ellie wondered as they explored all the rooms.
‘Yes,’ Artemis replied. ‘Bigger really.’ ”

When Artemis enters the room she exclaims ‘what fun’. We might infer from this that she is an optimistic character, but whether or not the audience finds this endearing is subjective.
Her only negative comment is “But nothing ever really went on, nothing fun.” and this is not aimed at herself – which also rules out D
Mercurial means subject to sudden or unpredictable changes. Not relevant to the answer, but an adjective worth learning!