GMAT Sentence Correction Overview

Number of Questions and Time Allocated

Sentence Correction accounts for 13-16 of the 41 questions in the verbal section of the GMAT. While you have an average of almost 2 minutes to answer each question on the verbal section, we recommend that you spend less time on each Sentence Correction question. In fact, we recommend that you should practice getting your speed down to one minute or less!

Answering Sentence Correction questions rapidly will allow you to "bank" time in the verbal section that you can use to concentrate on a difficult reading comprehension passage or to focus on a challenging critical reasoning question. Remember that the verbal section is the last section on the GMAT, and your endurance is likely to be fading at this point in the test. You may find that you need a few moments of the additional time you have saved to recover your energy to push through to the last question.

The Sentence Correction questions in the GMAT have several types of errors, most of which reoccur frequently throughout this section of the test. A close and thorough study of our Grammar Review will help you rapidly identify and correct these errors. We often recommend to students who are pressed for preparation time that they spend the lion's share of their studies on Sentence Correction. The time you spend concentrating on Sentence Correction and practicing spotting the common errors quickly is among the most productive time you may spend studying for the GMAT.

While trying to answer each question correctly in such a short amount of time may seem daunting, practicing the steps outlined earlier will help you answer the questions efficiently, effectively and most important, correctly.

Topics Tested in Sentence Correction

The Sentence Correction section tests your knowledge of written English grammar by asking you which of the five choices best expresses an idea or relationship. This section gives you a sentence that may or may not contain errors of grammar or usage. You must select either the answer that best corrects the sentence or the answer stating that the sentence is correct as is. The questions will require you to be familiar with the stylistic conventions and grammatical rules of standard written English and to demonstrate your ability to improve incorrect or ineffective expressions.

This section tests two broad aspects of language proficiency:

· Correct expression

· Effective expression

· Proper Diction

A correct sentence is grammatically correct and structurally sound. It conforms to all the rules of standard written English such as subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, modifier reference and position, idiomatic expressions and parallel construction.

In addition to being correct, a sentence needs to be effective. It should express an idea or relationship clearly and concisely, as well as grammatically. A best choice should have no superfluous words or unnecessarily complicated expressions. This does not mean that the shortest choice is always the best answer. Proper diction is another important part of effectiveness. It refers to the standard dictionary meanings of words and the appropriateness of words in context. In evaluating the diction of a sentence, you must be able to recognize whether the words are well-selected, correctly presented, and suitable for the context.

One common error that test takers often make in the Sentence Correction section is choosing an answer that sounds good. Do not go on with your gut feeling in this section. Remember your grammar and look for errors in construction (e.g., noun-verb agreement) and eliminate answers that you are sure are incorrect.

GMAT Sample Sentence Correction Questions

Q1. With centuries of seasonal roaming in search of pasture for their herds or food and water, the Nomads still found the goal of a bawdy, prolonged adventure an elusive one.

A. With

B. Following

C. Despite

D. Having spent

E. As a result of

*C* is the best choice to indicate the emphasis of the Nomads' unchanging mentality after all the journeys.3pt

Q2. The uniformized set of characters, which some historians date in the late Qing dynasty, was the key to the sustainability and prosperity of the Chinese culture over thousands of years.

A. The uniformized set of characters, which some historians date

B. The uniformized set of characters, which some historians have thought to occur

C. Uniformizing the set of characters, dated by some historians at

D. The uniformization of a set of characters, thought by some historians to have occurred

E. The set of characters' uniformization, dated by some historians to have been

Before we look at the answers, let's answer the question: what is occurring? Historians are dating something. What are they dating? Not the uniformized set of characters itself, but the time when the characters became uniformized (the uniformization of the characters).

Therefore the correct answer must be *D*.

How to Tackle Sentence Correction GMAT Questions

The following is a step-by-step process that you should follow to tackle Sentence Correction questions:

1. Read the whole sentence for structure and content.

You have to understand the entire sentence to be able to pick the best choice later. You should read the sentence for meaning as well as structure. Two questions you should ask yourself are:

· What is the author trying to say?

Some answers to GMAT questions are grammatically correct but change the meaning of the sentence. Such answers are wrong.

· What is the structure of the sentence?

As you read the sentence, try to identify the subject and verb, prepositions, conjunctions, and participles. These parts of speech are associated with the common errors found in Sentence Correction questions. You won't have to identify the grammatical function of each word, phrase and clause in the sentence, but please just be familiar with the common errors and watch for signals (which we will discuss later) that the question is testing a specific error.

2. Try to predict the correct answer.

You may already have an idea of how to correct the sentence. Before you plunge into the answers for the question, try to predict what the correct answer is going to be.

For example, in the sentence "Shelly have three items in her pocket," the correct answer choice is likely to contain the verb "has".

While your ability to predict the correct answer will improve with practice, you will not be able to correctly predict the correct answer choice all the time.

3. Don't read the first answer choice.

Reading the first answer choice is always a waste of your time. You have already read it in the original sentence! The first answer choice is always the same as the underlined portion of the original sentence.

Remember that 1 of 5 Sentence Correction questions contain no error. If you think that the original sentence is correct, then go ahead and scan through answers 2-5, but do not become flustered if none of the answers are correct. After all 20% of the Sentence Correction problems need no correction.

4. Scan through the answer choices.

Each Sentence Correction problem in the GMAT is created usually with two or three different possible errors where you have to pay attention. The various combinations of these possible errors result in the options you are given.

If you have predicted the correct answer, you need only to identify the choice that matches your prediction. Sometimes you will find an exact match, but more often you will be able to narrow the answer choices to two or three.

If you were not able to predict the correct answer, look for evidence in the answer choices to determine what is being tested by the question in order to pick the best answer. For example, if more than one answer choice is similar except for a few words, your investigation should begin with the answers that are similar.

When you have found the parts of the sentence being varied, look for evidence in the remaining part of the sentence to determine which option to choose. Start with whatever is dictated by the unchanging part of the sentence. For example, if a verb is provided in singular and plural forms, find the subject of the sentence.

5. Eliminate wrong answers.

By now, you should have an idea of what answers are grammatically or stylistically incorrect. Eliminate these answers and focus on the differences among the remaining choices.

6. Read your choice back into the sentence.

Remember that the GMAT test-writers will often create answer choices which are grammatically correct, but either change the meaning of the sentence or are not stylistically the best answer. Since the GMAT tests not only grammar but also efficiency and effectiveness of communication, you have to look for redundancy, ambiguity, and uncommon or confusing expressions.

Reading your choice back into the sentence will help you decide which answer communicates the meaning of the sentence most effectively and prevent you from making careless errors.

 
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