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Poverty – The Fallacy of Foreign Aid (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. Make poverty history.’ – Anonymous


  1. Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.’ – James Baldwin


  1. Come away; poverty’s catching.’ – Aphra Behn


  1. Brother can you spare a dime?’ – Y. Harburg


  1. There’s nothing surer, the rich get rich and the poor get children.’ – Gus Kahn & Raymond B. Egan


Suggested Theme: Poverty (Section A)

Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins

Chosen Quote: ‘Make poverty history.’ – Anonymous


The Fallacy of Foreign Aid


‘Make poverty history’ is a global call to action for economically developed countries to help their more challenged counterparts. Barrack Obama, the 44th US President, echoes, ‘Foreign aid is not a solution, but a road to independence for poorer nations.’ The following dialectic argues that the developed world can do more to aid those in poverty.


In the modern international context, inequality and polarisation of wealth are significant, and developed nations could be doing more to bridge the gap. Firstly, more developed nations regularly exploit poorer nations under the guise of foreign assistance. For instance, Chinese sovereign wealth funds have heavily invested in East African mineral mines due to the labour efficiencies along with the weak bargaining ability of people in these nations. The Chinese continue to plunder the sovereign inheritance of underdeveloped world nations such that assistance is negligible. Secondly, banks such as the International Monetary Fund regularly force countries into unviable debt repayment structures whose annual repayments far outstrip the Grose Domestic Product (GDP) of the indebted countries. These arrangements make it impossible to establish even a semblance of independence.


Alternative views do exist, however, especially given the complexity of foreign assistance policy and the current change occurring in the foreign aid departments of developed nations. Some would argue that the hardening of foreign aid policy could contribute to the autonomy of nations that require assistance. For instance, Julie Bishop, former Australian Foreign Minister, had announced in 2014 that it would shift its foreign aid expenditure to more regional partners within Australia. Subsequently, the foreign aid budget was reduced from $5.0 billion to around $4.2 billion accordingly. Bishop’s justification was that Australia would be able to do more to help developing nations achieve independence due to the nature of the assistance, and Australia’s ability to observe the efforts of its spend more closely. In this case, the mitigation of poverty is still possible, but not by extensive cash handouts.


Amelioration of poverty is, therefore, a complex and multi-faced task. It involves granting freedom from financial burden and resources sovereignty to countries that are often too underdeveloped to manage their economy. The developed nations are thus responsible and can shed some light for the foreseeable future based on their actions. Seeking exploitation or throwing some cash at them is not the most logical way to solve the core issue as discussed herein.


Feedback from METC Institute


Grade: 59/100


Engagement with the chosen topic:

The student does show a sufficient understanding of their selected topic. Their thesis statement is clear and relevant to the topic at hand. It is however a rather simple and surface-level analysis and lacks any real depth.


Knowledge and thought:

The arguments made here are supported by good evidence from reliable sources. The points made are relevant to the topic at hand. As previously stated the arguments are simplistic but do align with the quote.


Structure of the Essay:

The essay does lack a synthesis and the conclusion is underdeveloped. The thesis and antithesis are both present however the antithesis is more supported and thus developed.



The student’s writing is mostly clear and fluent, with no major technical issues present. There is the occasional issue with syntax and sentence structure, however, this does not greatly impact the clarity of the argumentation.


Overall Analysis:

Overall this is an essay of average quality. The argumentation is relevant and supported but lacks any real depth of analysis. The structure would benefit from both synthesis and an improved conclusion.


General Suggestions:

Try and look deeper into your quote. Instead of simply analysing from real arguments.


Feedback from AceGAMSAT


Grade: 58/100


This essay is emblematic of many of the typical issues you face in your writing. The first issue is that of the format. It is generally best to avoid presenting evidence in the introduction of an essay. You can and should provide context, but it is probably best to save evidence for the body paragraphs. This is the first issue.


Your observation about African countries and their weak ability to bargain could be construed as controversial. I believe that what you were attempting to say with this point was not meant to provocative, but at the same time, especially at the present juncture, it is necessary to be very careful is one’s political commentary and in one’s language on social issues. You do not know who the maker is and what positions they might take offence at.


As usual, you need to be more precise in your use of evidence. I looked it up and the IMF is not considered to be a “bank”. It is a financial institution but technically not a bank. Specificity in areas such as this is very important for markers.


Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT


Grade: 68/100


General Comments:

Interestingly, the student approached this on the global level rather than the individual level. Some excellent points are made and the structure is good.


Thought and Content:

We completely agree that the current loans and repayment schemes of the IMF and of many developed nations have not observably increased independence or ability to accumulate wealth for underdeveloped nations. If ever there was a loan shark, it is the IMF.


As noted, it is interesting that you have chosen to approach this on a global scale rather than at a more individual level (the more common response): this makes the essay stand out. Ultimately, the global should (theoretically anyway) lead to an improvement for the individual, although there are undeniably poor people in rich countries and rich people in poor countries so it is questionable whether there is all that much of a ‘trickle-down’, at least under the current model.


The approach being taken by Australians sounds hopeful. We hope it is not being used as an excuse to ‘not’ help underdeveloped nations or to ruthlessly exploit regional partners. Only time will tell what the true intention is.


Language and Structure:

The structure here is good. However, you might want to modify the thesis statement a bit to say something like the essay ‘will discuss old versus new approaches to foreign aid’ or words to that effect. It would be hard to dialectically argue that countries should ‘do more’ and in fact, that is not your argument. Your argument is that there are alternatives to the current model – which is a much better way to set up a dialectic.


As with previous essays your grammar, syntax, etc are near faultless and your writing style is clear and effective. It can be useful though to re-read the essay after you’ve written it just to make sure that your thesis statement still matches up. Alternatively, you could use the 5-minute 5-step model so that you are entirely clear on the thesis from the start.


Other Comments:

A good submission!




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