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Tutorial: Using Propositional Logic To Spot Logical Fallacies On The GAMSAT

This type of logical reasoning is tested on the GAMSAT every year in one form or another. It won’t always be confined to Section 1, and appears often in Section 3 – Biological and Physical Sciences.

The most common topics to feature propositional logic based questions are:
Section I: Argumentative passages and Data Analysis units
Section III: Hormones, Genetics, Electricity and circuit-related physics questions.

For some examples see:

  • Acer Practice Paper 1: Section III, unit 20 and, to an extent, unit 28.
  • Acer Practice Paper 2: Section 1, Questions 22 – 26
  • Practice Paper Alpha: Unit: 8
  • Practice Paper Zappa: Unit: 5

(If you are within 1-2 months of sitting the GAMSAT you should be gearing up to attempt these practice papers under test conditions. Practice Papers Alpha and Zappa are both available for download here)


What is Propositional Logic

Propositional logic is about determining the truthfulness of statements or ‘propositions’. Sentences considered through the lens of propositional logic are always concluded to be either true or false.

Statements are most commonly denoted by letters such as p, q or c. A statement for which the truth / falsity has not yet been established may be denoted by the letters X, Y or Z.

A statement may be simple or compound. An example of a simple statement is:
My dog’s name is Glen.

A compound statement is a number of simple statements connected by [the aptly named] ‘connectives’. An example of a compound statement is:
My dog’s name is Glen and he is a border collie.



Unit 51: Comparing Songs About The Elderly

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 6 minutes

Song 1: Help The Aged, by Pulp

Help the aged,
One time they were just like you,
Drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.
Help the aged,
Don’t just put them in a home,
Can’t have much fun when they’re all on their own.
Give a hand, if you can,
Try and help them to unwind.
Give them hope and give them comfort
’cause they’re running out of time.

In the meantime we try.
Try to forget that nothing lasts forever.
No big deal so give us all a feel.
Funny how it all falls away.
When did you first realize?
It’s time you took an older lover baby.
Teach you stuff although he’s looking rough.
Funny how it all falls away.

Help the aged
’cause one day you’ll be older too –
You might need someone who can pull you through
And if you look very hard
Behind those lines upon their face
You may see where you are headed
And it’s such a lonely place.



Tutorial: GAMSAT Metaphor Questions

A metaphor is a literary technique used to describe the subject by asserting that it is in some way similar to an otherwise unrelated object or idea


Different Types of Metaphor Questions

The following are a few of the most straightforward ways in which a metaphor-themed question might be posed on the GAMSAT:

  1. The passage describes something – which of the following would be the best metaphor for it?
  2. Which of the following, (A,B,C,D) taken from the passage, is an example of a metaphor?
  3. Why is X a poor metaphor for Y?
  4. Questions about literary techniques, for example:


1. “The boy was as fast as a shrew” (line 9), is an example of which of the following literary techniques?

  • A      Framing
  • B      Simile  (this is actually the correct answer, see below)
  • C      Metaphor
  • D      Symbolism

Any other metaphor questions you might come across will likely just be less direct permutations of those above.



Unit 50 – Hannibal Lecter’s Palace

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below is an extract from Hannibal by Thomas Harris. 

The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars and much information was preserved in them through the Dark Ages while Vandals burned the books. Like scholars before him, Dr. Lecter stores an enormous amount of information keyed to objects in his thousand rooms, but unlike the ancients, Dr.Lecter has a second purpose for his palace; sometimes he lives there. He has passed years among its exquisite collections, while his body lay bound on a violent ward with screams buzzing the steel bars like hell’s own harp.
Hannibal Lecter’s palace is vast, even by medieval standards. Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity.
We catch up to him as the swift slippers of his mind pass from the foyer into the Great Hall of the Seasons. The palace is built according to the rules discovered by Simonides of Ceos and elaborated by Cicero four hundred years later; it is airy, high-ceilinged, furnished with objects and tableaux that are vivid, striking, sometimes shocking and absurd, and often beautiful. The displays are well spaced and well lighted like those of a great museum. But the walls are not the neutral colors of museum walls. Like Giotto, Dr. Lecter has frescoed the walls of his mind.
He has decided to pick up Clarice Starling’s home address while he is in the palace, but he is in no hurry for it, so he stops at the foot of a great staircase where the Riace bronzes stand. These great bronze warriors attributed to Phidias, rased from the seafloor in our own time, are the centerpiece of a frescoed space that could unspool all of Homer and Sophocles.
Dr. Lecter could have the bronze faces speak Meleager if he wished, but today he only wants to look at them.
A thousand rooms, miles of corridors, hundreds of facts attached to each object furnishing each room, a pleasant respite awaiting Dr. Lecter whenever he chooses to retire there.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, we follow as he moves with a swift stride along the corridor of his own making, through a scent of gardenias, the presence of great sculpture pressing on us, and the light of pictures.
His way leads around to the right past a bust of Pliny and up the staircase to the Hall of Addresses, a room lined with statuary and paintings in a fixed order, spaced wide apart and well lit, as Cicero recommends.
Ah… The third alcove from the door on the right is dominated by a painting of St. Francis feeding a moth to a starling. On the floor before the painting is this tableau, life-sized in painted marble.
A parade in Arlington National Cemetery led by Jesus, thirty three, driving a ’27 Model-T Ford truck, a “tin lizzie,” with J. Edgar Hoover standing in the truck bed wearing a tutu and waving to an unseen crowd. Marching behind him is Clarice Starling carring a .308 Enfield rifle at shoulder arms.



Unit 49 – Multilingualism in the EU

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below has been adapted from an article published on on 4th July 2012.


Jean Quatremer, a renowned French political journalist from the daily Libération, complained about the official press statements accompanying the Commission’s economic recommendations to member states, published on 30 May.
The statements, eagerly awaited by the press because of the euro debt crisis, were initially made available to journalists in English only, with translations in other languages following hours later in the day.
This, Quatremer said, gave the Anglo-Saxon press an “incredible competitive advantage” over others.“Can you govern a eurozone, which numbers 330 million citizens, in a language which is only spoken by less than five million Irish? … Well, that is what the European Commission claims to do,” Quatremer wrote in a strongly-worded blog post.
Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said he understood the frustration but urged Quatremer to “accept it” since English had become the most widely spoken language in the EU Executive.
The documents, Bailly argued, were translated within a few hours into the other EU working languages (French and German) and within two days for the remaining 20 official languages.
Quatremer is not isolated in his quest for more linguisitc balance within the EU institutions. Jean-Pierre de Launoit, President of the ‘Alliance Française’, a public association promoting the French language and culture worldwide, said he has long sought to promote linguistic diversity within the European institutions. “Our struggle lies in the defence of multilingualism and the use of French whenever possible” in the EU institutions, he said.
Dennis Abbott, Commission spokesman for education, culture and multilingualism, argued that the translation delays on May 30th were due to some last-minute changes to the documents, made during the meeting of the College of Commissioners that took place the same day. In total, 66 documents required translation, representing 10,500 pages or 450 pages per language for the Commission’s translation services. All were translated within the set deadline, Abbott told EurActiv in emailed comments.
Anticipating the Commission’s response, Quatremer wrote that he did not wish for all documents to be translated immediately into French, but at least the report concerning France.
The Commission estimates that translating its more than two million documents yearly costs the European taxpayer 60 cents per person, which is often referred to as “the cost of democracy”.