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.
- ‘I recently turned sixty. Practically a third of my life is over’ – Woody Allen
- ‘With full-span lives having become the norm, people may need to learn how to be aged as they once had to learn how to be adult.’ – Ronald Blythe
- ‘The man who works and is not bored is never old.’ – Pablo Casals
- ‘Every man desires to live long: but no man would be old.’ – Jonathan Swift
- ‘The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.’ – Oscar Wilde
Suggested Theme: Ageing (Section A)
Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins
Chosen Quote: ‘With full-span lives having become the norm, people may need to learn how to be aged as they once had to learn how to be adult.’ – Ronald Blythe
A Paradigm Shift in Ageing
Advancements in contemporary medicine and technology have extended the longevity of humans. Ronald Blythe states, ‘With full span lives having become the norm, people may need to learn how to be aged as they once had to learn how to be adult’; therefore, reconstruction of traditional beliefs in ageing is necessary. The following dialectic argues ways of aging gracefully within the notion of biological, psychological and cultural expectations.
‘Kanreki’ is the term used in Japan to celebrate when people turn 60 years old, and marks a turning point in their life span. The rite emerged in the Kamakura era (1185-1333) when the life expectancy rarely reached that age; thus, reaching kanreki was a benediction. In the modern era, kanreki and retirement are considered the entry point of becoming a sensible senior citizen, who has accomplished most of their life-time missions and contributed to society, and thus, deserves to live the remaining time quietly and indulge in entertainment without the need of obligatory work. However, from this point onwards, people prone to encounter physical, mental challenges and cultural expectations as to how older people should behave. Zaria Gorvett, a British science journalist, explains, ‘When old people are reminded of the stereotypes and preconceptions of ageing, they express the negative impact and develop symptoms on their physical and mental health.’
With the full life span suggested by the proponents of Blythe’s perspective, there is a demographic transition in the aging process – from a young and growing population to an older and stable society. Biologically, ageing increases risk factors for many diseases, and chronic diseases have become the leading cause of death in developed countries. However, as life expectancy and quality of life increase, the age at which people first experience chronic disease increases. ‘Compression of morbidity’, a term coined by James Fries, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, explains that that majority live healthy lives for an extended period, and then experience rapid health declines compressed into the end of life. Additionally, Dr David Sinclair, an Australian biologist from Harvard Medical School, claims that ‘ageing is a disease, and it is treatable and reversible’.
Blythe’s statement highlights the importance of finding a sense of purpose for both young people becoming an adult and mature people ageing gracefully. Successful ageing is the elimination of fear, and the creation of a roadmap for the remaining life, particularly after the ‘kanreki’ or retirement. If we have something to look forward to everyday, then we have a fulfilling life that we can all cherish and find a meaning within!
Feedback from METC Institute :
Engagement with the chosen topic:
The student shows a good level of initial engagement with the quote, however the cohesion of the engagement is questionable. The conclusion states that the quote “highlights the importance of finding a sense of purpose” however this is not what the essay argumentation discussed. Therefore while there is a good level of engagement this is not always consistent or cohesive.
Knowledge and thought:
The student has presented strong secondary evidence to support their arguments. While the arguments present are not fully coherent with the quote or the thesis they are all very well supported.
Structure of the Essay:
The essay does not use the TAS structure that is recommended however there is a clear structure. The essay does not produce clear arguments or counter arguments and instead seems to discuss the themes of the quote.
There are no major issues with technical writing, aside from some minor slips things like tone, word choice and punctuation.
Overall this is a relatively decent essay. There does however seems to be an issue with the cohesiveness of the argumentation. The conclusion does not match up well with the core contents of the essay which as a result leaves it feeling slightly disjointed.
Ensure that you produce clear arguments that links completely to your quote, this is your main source.
Feedback from AceGAMSAT:
There are several key issues with what you have written. The first is that you need to somewhat curb your ambitions. What you have written in your introduction is incredibly broad. You would do well to try and tamp down a bit on these ambitions and maybe just try to address two major concepts in a way which is thorough. It is unlikely you will be able to manage anything more than that in the time you are allotted for the exam.
You should also ration out your use of evidence. Evidence is NOT meant to do your arguing for you. This is a common mistake of many students. I would advise that you limit your evidence to the final two sentences of each body paragraph. That should be enough. Also it is not necessary to cite and reference everything. This is not a piece of academic writing. This is meant to be you briefly engaging with an argumentative topic in just 30 minutes and constructing a somewhat detailed argument in that time on a few simple ideas.
Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT:
The essay makes a promising start but unfortunately does not follow through.
Thought and Content:
The introduction of your essay is excellent and purports to offer a dialectic on ‘ways of aging gracefully’ from various perspectives. However, the essay itself lists the processes that accompany ageing rather than how to cope with them. This was a bit of a disappointment as we were hoping to read some suggestions or insights into how to age gracefully. Instead, we read about how once we reach the retirement age (although that is well past 60 for most people now), we can expect declining physical and mental health and that ageing is viewed as ‘a disease’. Somehow in this, we will find a sense of purpose in order to ‘age gracefully’ but there is no suggestion as to how we might do this, other than exhortation not to be fearful.
We agree that we need to rethink the concept of ageing and afford our elders more honoured positions, including listening to their wisdom and providing opportunities for engagement that add meaning and fulfilment to their lives. But we also need to accept that ageing and death are natural processes to be embraced, not a disease to be cured.
Also there transition to an ‘inverted pyramid’ demographic is not likely to create a more stable society – there is a great deal of evidence that suggest that in face this is going to create immerse problems in terms of the available workforce, and for funding continued care for the elderly.
Language and Structure:
You write clearly and your structure is logical. You include quotes and statistics, which is great. However this reads more like and outline for a much longer essay.
More importantly, you need to provide a dialectic as promised in the introduction. The succeeding paragraph read more like points that you would like to address more in-depth. As a result, it feels like not much is actually proven or resolved.