GMAT Sentence Correction

GMAT Sentence Correction is the oddball of the GMAT verbal section. The Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension seem highly related with the CR focusing more on reasoning the RC on reading. The sentence correction aims squarely at sentence structure. You could argue that each of them focus on a different size verbal particle. The SC on the relationship amongst words in sentences. The CR on the relationship amongst sentences in paragraphs. The RC on sentences in paragraphs and paragraphs in a combined text. It doesn't work perfectly that way but you get the picture. On GMAT sentence correction you analyze the structure of a sentence to and pick the answer choice that is most clear. Notice I haven't mentioned: grammar! Yes, there's grammar involved but the GMAT sentence correction is more about effective communication than fiddly grammar rules. The sentence correction questions will be about 1/3 of your test but for most people be about 1/5 of the clock as they tend to take a little less time per question than CR or RC. Again, that's not true for everyone so don't panic if you take 2min per question for SC. That might be 100% AOK for you. Hard and fast timing rules without taking into account your personal profiles are mostly irrelevant.

What grammar is test on GMAT Sentence Correction?

  1. Parallelism (Lists, Comparisons)
  2. Agreement (Subject/Verb, Noun/Pronoun)
  3. Modifiers

Yes, there's more than that. If you start zooming in on the details you might start seeing a ton of grammar rules popping out of the woodwork. However, I'd mainly focus on the big three. As you practice GMAT sentence correction you'll pick up on a bunch of helpful rules but I wouldn't necessarily memorize grammar rules ahead of time. Learn by doing (and reviewing).

GMAT Sentence Correction Example

The rain has flooded drainage canals in many orange-tree groves, which has caused the fruit to fall before it will ripen and also threatened to kill the trees.

(A) which has caused the fruit to fall before it will ripen and also threatened to kill

(B) which not only caused the fruit to fall without ripening, but also threatened killing

(C) not only causing the fruit to fall before ripening, but also threatening to kill

(D) causing the fruit to fall before it will ripen, which will threaten killing

(E) causing the fruit to have fallen before it ripened, which threatened to kill

"Which" is very specific. If it's present in a GMAT SC question go ahead and analyze it first. Rule of thumb for which: whatever is to the left and right of it (adjacent) must be related. The university, which is rated very highly, is hosting an mba event. It's the university that's rated very highly so that use of which is correct. In the GMAT sentence correction example above you have a bunch of no-good which uses.

(A) orange-tree groves which has caused the fruit to fall before it will ripen and also threatened to kill
Is it the orange-tree groves causing the the fruit to fall?
(B)orange-tree groves which not only caused the fruit to fall without ripening, but also threatened killing
Same problem here from A.
(C) not only causing the fruit to fall before ripening, but also threatening to kill
CORRECT.
(D) causing the fruit to fall before it will ripen, which will threaten killing
Is it ripen that will threaten killing? Nope!
(E) causing the fruit to have fallen before it ripened, which threatened to kill
Is it ripened that threatened to kill? Nope!

How to study for GMAT Sentence Correction?

Unlike Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension it usually doesn't take that long to improve sentence correction. So, if weak at the other two certainly get them on solid footing first.

  1. For GMAT Sentence Correction practice stick to official GMAT questions. That's how you're going to get tuned in to the all important "GMAT Flavor" of GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Third party questions just don't have it.
  2. When reviewing find solutions that resonate with you. That you could teach to someone else easily. There are several ways to get through (and to explain) SC mistakes so choose the path that makes the sense for you. Be active in your review. I tend to prefer a SC focus on structure, logic, and meaning as opposed to nit picky grammar rules. I find that a slightly more zoomed out approach is much more powerful and easier to apply to a broader set of questions. Not to say that you won't do great memorizing grammar rules. I'm just providing an alternate idea because you often see in books and in the GMAT forums people explaining what I would consider unhelpful or at least potentially confusing and not needed grammar rules.
  3. A little trick I've found helpful: read correct sentence correction sentences TWICE. Yep, read them two times. That way you'll be reenforcing correct GMAT sentence correction structure. And, believe me: they repeat them. So the more familiar you are with what is a correct sentence correct sentence structure the easier it will be to spot the same correct structure on your GMAT.
  4. Review both correct and incorrect to make sure you're getting things right for the right reasons and to look for potentially easier ways to solve. There are multiple ways through GMAT sentence correction so investigate every split. It may be that you figure out a new split and decide that the rule involved isn't super intuitive and that you may not use it going forward. That's fine. Every once in a while you will find a gem so it's still worth doing.

 

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