One of the constituent questions types in the GMAT Verbal Syllabus is Sentence Correction. The premise is simple enough. In GMAT test, a sentence is presented, with part or all of it underlined. The sentence might be right or wrong. If it’s wrong, it has to be corrected. And one of the 5 options given is the right way to construct the given sentence.
GMAT Sentence Correction section tests you on a set of grammar rules. With practice, you will identify frequently tested parts and start correcting sentences even before you look at the options. Always, always, always, remember to not pick the right answer but to eliminate the wrong ones and arrive at the answer. That’s the way to go with GMAT Sentence Correction.
Grammatical Concepts tested in GMAT SC
The following aspects of grammar are tested in GMAT Sentence correction:
- Parts of Speech
- Parts of Sentences
- Subject-Verb Agreement
- Idioms & Diction
- Grammatical Construction
GMAT Sentence Correction Rules
You will have 75 minutes to answer 41 questions in GMAT Verbal. i.e. a little under two minutes for each question. You will certainly need more time to tackle GMAT Reading Comprehension questions. Therefore, you will have to solve SC questions in a minute or less. This is possibly the biggest challenge here. That, and how well you know your grammar!
Here is a systematic approach to approaching SC questions:
- Skim the given sentence and try to identify the error(s). If you identify multiple errors, focus on one at a time.
- Go through the answer choices and eliminate any choices that replicate the original errors
- Eliminate answer choices that correct the original error but have other error(s). You should be left with the correct answer
- To validate your choice, substitute this answer option back in the original sentence and read it again. If it sounds right, go with it!
Tips for GMAT Sentence Correction
1. Don’t be scared while finding out the errors
One of the most important pointers here is to realize that there is the possibility of the given sentence being correct as such without any changes. So, if that’s the case, option A is the answer. Psychologically, people are somehow unwilling to believe that there is no error in the sentence. They are scared that they might have overlooked an error. So, when you are convinced that a sentence is error-free as given, go ahead with A. But it’s wise to read through the other options before going ahead with A, that goes without saying, of course.
2. Try to eliminate the wrong option
In Sentence Correction, it’s important to eliminate the wrong option than to choose the right answer. If you are convinced that a certain part of the underlined sentence is wrong, look at the options that have the right correction meant for this error you have managed to spot. Eliminate options that do not correct the sentence or the error which you have identified. Then, check for the grammar throughout. Finalize on the right answer after eliminating every option that does not fit in.
3. Focus more on the Time based sentence correction
Sometimes, it is difficult to find the exact part that does not conform to Grammar rules. We make so many mistakes when we use the language that with time, some mistakes seem and sound right to us. So, if you are unsure as to what the mistake is (remember, that A might be the answer here), read through every option. Try to figure out what the differences are, among the options. The different structures you identify will give you a fair direction on what’s right and wrong. Eliminate the wrong ones to arrive at the right answer. GMAT aims at testing your grammar knowledge and if you know in what forms they have to be used. They won’t try to evaluate if you know the definitions of each grammar term or ask you to explain in depth about the same.
4. Infer details from the remaining part of the sentence
While we are very focused and spend all our attention on the underlined part of the sentence, it is important to pay attention to the rest of the sentence as well. In most cases, you will find relevant information in this section which will help you to determine the correct answer for the underlined portion of the sentence. You will be able to obtain many significant details and hints from the remaining section like the context of the sentence, the tense used, the subject and modifiers being used etc.
5. Remove the unnecessary details from the sentence
GMAT may try to include many descriptional phrases to distract you from the main intent of the question which is to identify the errors which are present in the sentence. Therefore you could try to read the passage by leaving out the adjectives or irrelevant details. For example:- Nancy aspired to become a successful artist in the beautiful city of Rome. You could read it as: Nancy dreams to become an artist at Rome. The content of the sentence remains unchanged and it makes it simpler for you to identify and correct any errors in the sentence. It gives you a clear picture of the structure of the sentence as well.
While the above pointers are certain to assist you, do keep in mind that every rule has an exception and you need to be wary about this before you follow the same. Once you have made your choice you should try to substitute your answer in the underlined portion of the sentence. This will give you a fair idea about whether your answer choice is correct or not.
Also read GMAT Sentence Correction Rules.
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