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GMAT Sentence Correction

Introduction

GMAT sentence correction questions are designed to test your ability to identify written English that is grammatically-correct. Each question will begin with sentences, parts of which have been underlined. You will then be presented with 5 different answer choices presenting alternative ways of stating the underlined portion of the text. One answer choice will repeat the text without any changes (meaning that the sentence is clear in meaning and grammatically correct as written). The other choices will re-write the text, sometimes in subtle ways.

The correct answer will have all of the following 4 characteristics:

  1. No grammatical mistakes
  2. Correct sentence structure
  3. No diction errors
  4. No changes to the sentence's intended meaning

Note that we did not state that the correct answer is always the most concise one. While this often is the case, it does not always hold true. You may find that you need to resist the temptation to always select the shortest answer choice.

GMAT Sentence Correction Tips and Strategies

Do not waste time on a close reading of answer choice A.  Choice A always simply repeats the wording of the underscored section. If you've read the underscored text, you already know what it says. Keep in mind, however, that we are not saying to ignore choice A entirely. It will be correct approximately one fifth of the time. That said, we do advise clients not to succumb to the temptation to overanalyze these questions or to assume that there is always a re-written answer choice that is better than the underlined segment presented in the question.

Look out for multiple errors.  A sentence might contain more than one error. A common fallacy that test-takers fall into is to find one error and then quickly choose the answer that corrects that mistake, without considering whether there are other errors in the sentence that an alternative answer choice might also address. The correct answer must correct all of the errors in the underlined text.

Employ process of elimination wherever possible.  The easiest way to use process of elimination in sentence correction questions is simply to eliminate any answer choices that are themselves grammatically incorrect. You can also eliminate any choices that alter the intended meaning of the sentence. If you are still unsure about how to answer a question even after narrowing your choices down to two, you will fare better by selecting the more concise of the remaining answer choices provided that it does not use the passive voice.

Do not worry about spelling or capitalization errors.  The test writers do not test for these 2 errors.

When in doubt, look for subtle differences among the different answer choices.  Examining how answer choices differ from one another can also be a good way to determine what errors might be present in the underlined text. This technique can also help you fight the tendency to read so carefully for meaning that you overlook grammatical mistakes.

Read the entire sentence a second time, inserting your selected answer choice.  We have found this to be a very powerful tip for dealing with sentence correction questions. It can keep you from making careless mistakes that would harm your GMAT score.

Trust your ears.  If you become stuck, 'say' the choices in your head and then select the passage that sounds best to your ears. Most test takers, particularly native English speakers, have internalized many more grammar rules than they can explicitly identify.

Grammar Concepts and Rules You Should Know

We do not have the time or space to review the material tested by the GMAT sentence correction section here. However, we have compiled the following "short list" of grammatical rules that the writers particularly like to test. You are strongly encouraged to memorize this list of grammar concepts and rules, and to refresh your knowledge of them, before you sit for the GMAT.

  • 'Among' versus 'between'
  • Elliptical verb phrases
  • Misplaced modifiers
  • Parallel sentences
  • Pronoun-subject agreement
  • Proper use of adverbs (they modify verbs)
  • Proper use of the semicolon
  • 'Fewer' versus 'less'
  • Run-on sentences
  • Sentence fragments
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Verb tenses
  • 'Who' versus 'whom'

Click here to see our sentence correction practice questions.

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