23 Feb 2017

GMAT Basics: Sentence Correction

GMAT Verbal

The GMAT verbal section is located at the tail end of the GMAT. This is after 30 minutes for the essay, 30 mins for the Integrated Reasoning section, and 75 minutes for the Quantitative section. By this time most people are drained. So, be sure to take the 8 minute breaks before and after the Quantitative section. You are going to need the energy for the verbal section. There are 41 questions and with only 75 minutes, it goes pretty quick. Also, the nature of the questions increase the time pressure. There are 4 Reading Comprehension passages you have to go through and that can eat up your time. Also, you may be tempted to rush through Critical Reasoning questions because they look straight forward, but they actually require extensive mental gymnastics. This leaves Sentence Corrections as the best area for quick improvement on the GMAT verbal.

A little more than a third of the verbal questions are Sentence Correction questions, about 14 to 16. Reading Comprehension questions are about a third and Critical Reasoning questions make up the rest, a little less than a third. About a fourth of all questions are experimental. While the Reading passages, and hence RC (Reading Comprehension) questions, appear in regular intervals, the other questions are pretty random in order.

Sentence Correction questions

Here is what the source, MBA.com, says about Sentence Correction (SC) questions.

This question tests correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing your answer, follow the requirements of standard written English; that is, pay attention to grammar, choice of words, and sentence construction. Choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.

The question is just a sentence with an underlined portion. The first answer choice is always the same as the underlined portion, so, you really shouldn’t ever reread it. The other answer choices are rewordings of the underlined portion. I’ll discuss actual strategy in future articles. For now I just want to focus on a few big ideas. First, reread the last line from the description above. This is how I re-interpret it into 3 easy to remember ideas; Clear, Concise, and Consistent. The 3 C’s of SC. Clear; the meaning of the sentence should be unambiguous and clear. Concise; this one is a little more subjective, but given a choice simpler is better. We like brevity in business communications. Lastly, Consistent; this is tested most often, and is hardest to master. Basically, all things need to match up; verb tenses, singulars/plurals, word forms, comparisons, and etc.

SC questions are eminently trainable. Knowing the 3 C’s is a good start to tackling SC questions. These questions are your best bet for quick improvement in the GMAT verbal section. I’ll keep posting more tips and information on the GMAT. As always, contact me if you have any questions about prepping for the GMAT and want a free consultation. [email protected]