to top

Death – Finding a Purpose of Life by Becoming a Hero (GAMSAT Essay Example)

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.


  1. Nothing in his life became him like leaving it.’ – William Shakespeare


  1. It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not importance, it lasts so short a time.’ – Samuel Johnson


  1. It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’ – Woody Allen


  1. I have received two wonderful graces. First, I have been given time to prepare for a new future. Secondly I find myself – uncharacteristically – calm and at peace.’ – Basil Hume


  1. To die will be an awfully big adventure.’ – M Barrie


Suggested Theme: Death (Section B)

Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins

Chosen Quote: ‘It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not importance, it lasts so short a time.’ – Samuel Johnson


Finding a Purpose of Life by Becoming a Hero


Unlike the periods of war, human lives are precious in the contemporary era. Today, the well-developed world provides the environment and opportunities where one can explore the individual potential to experience fulfilling life until reaching the destination of death. Samuel Johnson says, ‘ It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance; it lasts so short a time.’ and hints the denial of altruism. The following dialectic explores how one can find a sense of purpose in life, and to become a ‘hero’ in one’s story.


The iconic image of Japanese suicide bombers – kamikaze – has been cooked into our consciousness over the years by countless World War II (WWII) movies and a library full of books. The mission was only to crash their planes loaded with explosives, extra fuel and lethal missiles into enemy ships. The kamikaze seems both heroic and horrifying at the same time – depending on where one’s WWII allegiances lie. Yasuo Kuwahara, the author of ‘Kamikaze’, stated, ‘Never have so many human beings unitedly and deliberately agreed to die for their country without hope of any alternative.’ While Johnson states the act of dying lasts only a short time; the young Japanese pilots’ courage to accept the mission for the sake of the country meant everything to them. It was an audacious gesture and commitment to ‘how they had died for honour’, and celebrated as an act of heroism from the Japanese perspective.


The proponents of Johnson’s perspective argue that the act of heroism comes from ‘how one lives’. When considering one’s purpose in life, a compelling example is to live the life of a hero. The media and culture portray a hero’s journey, and the stories endow our lives with meanings and demonstrate how one should contribute to society. Thus, the heroic figures are one’s role models and foundation of establishing the image of self-identity. The purpose of living is to fulfil one’s desires; to become the protagonist of one’s stories in a heroic manner. In the event of encountering death, it is a way of humbling human emotions and shits the focus on how one had lived. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology at the University of Richmond, says ‘…death heightens our evaluations of those who pass, and it also amplifies our sensitivity and appreciation of the inherent goodness in people.’; thus, valuing and cherishing the time one had lived.


While Johnson’s statement appears one-sided, one can find a purpose of life through the act of either ‘ dying’ or ‘living’ as discussed herein. Heros can emerge from both the charitable cause of death and being a role model in society, and the choice is totally up to you.


Feedback from METC Institute:


Grade: 56/100


Engagement with the chosen topic:

The student shows a proficient understanding of their selected quote. Their thesis statement is clear but needs more specific detail included here. Ther is an adequate level of engagement.


Knowledge and thought:

Examples and evidence are well chosen to support the main points of the argument. Details included are relevant but could perhaps be expressed more succinctly to allow for the inclusion of additional content. The synthesis however does not have the support illustrated in the thesis.


Structure of the Essay:

The thesis section has a clear set of examples that support the student’s arguments. The antithesis section has some inclination of a counterpoint but lack the support of the thesis. The synthesis here is the most underdeveloped.



Generally accurate apart from minor but repeated slips in the use of commas. Occasional slips with apostrophes, and tense choice, plus occasional syntax error. However, the expression in general is clear throughout.


Overall Analysis:

The arguments made here have a good foundation, and the evidence provided does work for the purposes of this essay, but there are some low moderate structural issues here. The primary issue is the variation in the development of the argumentation.


General Suggestions:

You need to make sure that your arguments are clear and consistent, as you got a little off track in this essay. Ensure that you put in consistent work throughout and that your essay feels cohesive.


Feedback from AceGAMSAT:


Grade: 58/100


I must stress that for a Task B essay it is essential to focus on YOUR experience. You are attempting to communicate your emotional intelligence, your ability to express what emotional lessons you have learned over the years, how that experience has enabled you to connect with others. This is NOT supposed to be an expository essay. In fact writing in an expository fashion on the prompt can make it seem as though you are AVOIDING the main purpose of the essay, which is a degree of self-revelation.


Another issue with this essay relates to its expression. I believe in your introduction you are contrasting the developing world with the developed world. Is this correct? The “developed” world is not “well-developed”. This would not be idiomatically correct and will cause confusion for your marker.


In future try to think about how you relate to the prompt, how it might intersect with your experiences. This might prove difficult. If you need to make up experiences, or perhaps talk about the experiences of those who are close to you. This should help bolster your marks quite a bit.


Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT:


Grade: 51/100


General Comments:

The idea of becoming a hero in one’s own life could work well with the theme of the quotes It could translate well into the proper Task B narrative structure, rather than the Task A structure used here.


Thought and Content:

We like the idea of being a hero in the living of one’s own life. But as noted above, this would best suit the narrative or personal essay structure. We’re sure you could write effectively about someone who you see as a hero, whether a family member or a figure in literature or a movie. There is certainly no shortage of candidates. We can think of at least three movies – Elysium, Dr Strange, as well as the final Harry Potter movie – where the hero intentionally dies. Of course, there are still others that you can choose from.


Language and Structure:

Think of this as going for coffee with a friend and tell a story.




Leave a Comment