25 Aug 2017

GMAT Skills: Sentence Correction Part III

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Sentence Correction. I figure it’s about time to start getting into the more advanced skills to add to your toolkit for GMAT verbal. For this article I’m going to delve into “chunking,” an idea I mentioned in the last article on Sentence Correction.

Fundamentally speaking “chunking” is just about keeping the information in the sentence manageable by organizing group of words together into functional parts. The goal is to find the skeletal framework of the sentence. On a basic level we just need to find the subject, verb/action, predicates, and modifiers/descriptors.


Let’s look at the GMAC’s SC question from the previous article again.

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)

Starting at the beginning, we see the word “while.” This means the next “chunk” of words will be an introductory clause. It’s not important to know that it’s called a clause, just that it’s not the main structural part. When you see “while,” you should be anticipating a comma that separates the clause from the rest of the sentence. Since the initial clause is not underlined, there is no error there. However, you should note the subject, action, and any time clues, for possible parallel construction in the rest of the sentence. For now we can just move on the next chunk. At this point we are still looking for the major components. The subject is “many smaller regional and community banks.” The action/verb is “are finding.” Again, all this is not underlined, so no worries about errors. Everything up to now can be all “chunked” away. The next part is the important part. Starting with “that,” we are about to encounter a necessary clause that describes the “finding.” We basically have another sentence to chunk out. The subject of this clause is “the cost.” The action and predicate doesn’t show up until “are prohibitive.” The remaining part, which describes “the cost,” is “associated with x and with y.” I used x and y to stand in for “upgrading” and “development and maintenance.” Because we are dealing with x and y, it has to be “costs.” Also, because “and with” is used in the non-underlined portion, it must also be used in the underlined portion.


I’ve bracketed out the question below by the chunks.

[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)].


The big take away is this: use this technique to keep you focused when reading a SC prompt. With practice you will be breaking down even the most complex sentences as you read. Hopefully, by the time you get to the underlined portion, you will already have a good idea what the answer should and should not look like. Like all skills, this takes time to cultivate, so keep prepping!