24 Mar 2017

GMAT Basics: Sentence Correction Part II

A while ago I wrote the first article on Sentence Correction questions. After rereading it, I realized I hadn’t really introduced the question type properly. So here we go again. This time let’s look at an example and discuss ways to quickly get to an answer.

The following question is straight from GMAC’s website.

While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.

(A) cost associated with
(B) costs associated with
(C) costs arising from
(D) cost of
(E) costs of

Answer: (B)

So, what do you notice about this question? Your first response is probably that it is long and complicated. Why, yes, of course it is. But, there are a few other things to take note of. Keep in mind the underlined portion is the most important part. Most of the time, changes in the underline portion will “give away” what is tested. If you are lucky, as in this example, you will see a 2/3 split in the answer choices. If not, you will still have differences to evaluate, against each other and the remainder of the sentence.

The 2/3 Split

Even without reading the full sentence, you should notice that answer choice A and D use “cost,” while the other ACs (answer choices) use “costs.” Clearly they cannot both be correct. This gives us our first big clue. You should be aware of the most common grammar issues tested on the GMAT. This is one of them; subject and verb agreement. In this case we need to know which form of the subject to use, either singular, “cost,” or plural, “costs.” Therefore, we need to find the corresponding verb for the subject. I’m going to start “chunking” away the irrelevant (for now) words. I skip the following, “Associated with … blah blah blah and with blah blah blah…” until the “are,” which is the verb. So, “are” is plural, which means the subject is plural, which means we need “costs.” Eliminate A and D. With enough practice, this process should take only a few moments. And while skipping, if you are actively “chunking” the words, you should have noticed the parallel “with” prepositions. Among the remaining ACs B, C, and E, the differences are in prepositions. If you remember my previous article, the key word here is consistency. The proper wording is “associated with X and with Y.” Hence, B is the correct answer.

I hope this helps you gain a least some familiarity with Sentence Correction questions. As always if you have any questions drop me a line at [email protected]. Till next time, keep prepping!