Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme, how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself.
- ‘Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.’ – Helen Keller
- ‘A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.’ – William Shakespeare
- ‘Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.’ – Oscar Wilde
- ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
- ‘Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.’ – Woodrow T. Wilson
Suggested Theme: Friends (Section B)
Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins
Chosen Quote: ‘A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.’ – William Shakespeare
Family vs. Friends
The debate over the greater importance in the life of friends or family is somewhat clichéd and academic, yet it remains provocative. William Shakespeare once expressed, ‘A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still gently allows you to grow.’ This quote seems interchangeable with and can apply to the notion of ‘family’ at first glance. The following dialectic explores the correlation between friends and family.
Possession of an agency – friendship – is the predominant benefit in the context of social bonding. One may elect to commence a social relationship with one person and cease a relationship with another based on their desires. As life moves forward, thus do individual values. When these values grow out of tune, people grow apart. Friendships cease due to unilateral or mutual dissatisfaction or disinterest. Equally, as time goes on, some bonds grow more robust, driving existing friendships to new heights.
Family is forced upon the children regardless of the social status and personalities of the parents. While not always unpleasant, the conventional importance of family suggests a legal obligation. On this point, it is interesting to consider the concept of marriage, as it is one of few cases in which a friend can turn as family. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that there were around 50,000 divorces granted in Australia in 2018, with the median duration of marriage to divorce being 12.3 years. Putting aside the negative connotation associated with divorce, the desire shown by the married to divorce underpins the importance of one’s choice of relations.
Considering from another perspective, the same inescapable nature that ties one to undesirable family relations may favour the situation for some. As children, one’s relationship with their parents is inherently selfish. As an adolescent, one can be thankful for the fortune of familial ties and the obligations one’s parents have to maintain. In contrast, the easy exit clause written into the unspoken contract of friendship can mean that friends can prematurely abandon potentially gratifying relations at the sign of trouble. Deserting a family relationship is, however, looked upon more critically.
In actuality, there is no simple dichotomy between friends and family. The elements traditionally comprising friendship are unavoidably present in relationships with family, and vice versa. If one had to choose, however, friendship trump family because it tends to be true that what one cherishes most in their family is their sincere friendship.
Feedback from METC Institute:
Engagement with the chosen topic:
The student shows a good understanding of their selected quote. Their thesis statement is relevant to the themes and ideas of this quote, and their topic is clear. There is some difficulty in fully aligning the quote with the arguments as the arguments are not always clear.
Knowledge and thought:
There is some evidence utilised in this essay, such as the statistics on divorce, however overall there is a lack. There is a reliance on “real life” scenarios which is not overly strong evidence.
Structure of the Essay:
The TAS structure is utilised however there are a few issues. There is a lack of real clear logical flow through the essay and the argumentation is often unclear which impact the piece.
There are small number of technical writing issues here, which occasionally do cause issues of fluency and clarity in the student’s writing.
Overall the essay is rather unclear. There is an obvious understanding of the quote however this is not as translated as it could be.
Focus on your clarity of writing. It is clear you understand the topic but ensure that you let the reader know this.
Feedback from AceGAMSAT:
Please attempt to avoid extreme positions. If you opt for a strong position it can sometime put off your marker. It is good to have a position more to one sider or the other, but not at the extreme end of either. I am specifically referring to how you start your introduction.
As a general view avoid truisms, clichés, and also attempt to clearly define for the reader all of your key concepts. These are very common issues with essays, so please know they are easy traps to fall into. If a concept is essential to your essay always ask yourself if the marker will have a clear notion of what you are attempting to convey. For the sake of clarity also try to make the perspective on individual statements very clear.
I would venture to say that this essay has issues in terms of unclear transitions and overall issues with clarity. Probably in the planning stage jot out your key sentences. That way by the time you write them you will be sure that they will be conveyed as lucidly as possible.
Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT:
You have addressed the quotes admirably. You write well, but you need to allow yourself to be less formal and more personal with this task.
Thought and Content:
We appreciate your thoughts on the interrelationship between friends and family. The most interesting and fresh insight into this concept is in paragraph 3 where you state: “On this point, it is interesting to consider the concept of marriage, as it is one of few cases in which a friend can turn as family.” This outshines all the other ideas you discussed in the essay. Had you elaborated on this perspective alone with a real-life example and relevant details, as well as critical analysis, your response would have been remarkable.
And then, of course, there is the alternative that we have repeatedly suggested, which is to express your thoughts and share your experiences in different (more personable) ways. You KNOW how to create arguments, that is clear. However, the dialectic approach that you presented here did not quite work in a way that showcases your depth of understanding or appreciation of the dichotomy between friendship and family.
Language and Structure:
You write well, but we encourage you to vary your writing style, tone and approach for Task B.
Your scores on these essays will not substantially improve without a change in your approach.