GMAT Verbal Section: Sentence Correction Tips

If you have decided on the GMAT for your business school admissions journey, and you’ve put the GMAT vs. GRE issues aside, then you’d better get used to the GMAT sentence correction question, which comprises about 35-40% of the questions on the GMAT Verbal Section. They appear a bit more frequently than the other two Verbal question types, critical reasoning and reading comprehension.

GMAT Sentence Corrections: How Do They Work?

It’s easy to describe the sentence corrections as a test of English grammar. But there are numerous grammatical topics that the GMAT does not cover. The sentence correction question should be viewed more as a measure of your ability to recognize clear, effective, and concise expression of the English language. There is typically no need to learn dozens of grammatical do’s and don’ts—many students are instinctively capable of recognizing awkward or redundant expressions of ideas and are thus already well suited to doing well.

A typical sentence correction question presents a full sentence, some or all of which has been underlined. There are five answer choices, the first of which, choice A, simply repeats the underlined portion in the original sentence. The remaining four answer choices, B through E, have altered certain parts of the original. Your job is to determine if the underlined portion is correct as it stands (Choice A would be the No Error choice), or if there is a better way to express the underlined portion among the remaining choices.

GMAT Sentence Correction – Example:

Here is a fairly representative example that your online GMAT Prep will help you to decipher!

Facebook and Twitter have been instilled in the popular imagination as entities too important that neither overexposure nor hearty competition will diminish its impact.

  1. A) too important that neither overexposure nor hearty competition will diminish its
  2. B) too important for either overexposure or hearty competition to diminish their
  3. C) important enough that neither overexposure nor hearty competition will diminish its
  4. D) so important that neither overexposure nor hearty competition will diminish its
  5. E) so important that neither overexposure nor hearty competition will diminish their

GMAT Sentence Correction – Explanation:

The first clues we get to identifying what’s correct and what isn’t come through recognizing what is visibly different among the answer choices. Choices A, B, and C start with “too important” or with “important enough,” while D and E start with “so important that”. Also, with careful scrutiny, you’ll discover that the last word of each answer choice is either “its” or “their”, thus presenting a pronoun issue.

With astute GMAT online preparation, you’ll recognize that correct English usage dictates the expression “so important that…” as in, “I was so hungry that I could eat a horse!” Thus, we would eliminate choices A, B, and C.

Secondly, you will come to recognize that the noun “entities” in the sentence warrants the plural possessive pronoun “their”. Thus, eliminate Choice D, and the correct answer is Choice E. There are usually 2 – 3 errors displayed in each sentence correction question.

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 1:

Recognize how the answers visibly differ to identify what’s being tested.

As with the above example this should be for first task to help you identify the specific error types. From there you should be on the lookout for the common GMAT error categories, as below.

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 2:

Be on the lookout for subject-verb agreement.

This can be especially tricky if the subject and the verb are separated by clauses and modifiers, as below.

“This same pattern that has been unearthed at numerous archeological sites have been identified as Indo-European in nature.”

Should be: “pattern…has been identified…”

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 3:

Be on the lookout for faulty parallelism.

This is very popular on the GMAT and often comes in faulty comparisons or in a list of items…

“The voter turnout in Chicago, unlike New York, was not nearly as robust.”

Should be: “voter turnout in Chicago, unlike that of New York…” You can’t compare turnout to a city!

“His favorite activities outside of work are watching old black and white films, taking long walks in the park, and good old-fashioned home cooked dinners.”

Should be: “watching…, taking…, and preparing…dinners.”

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 4:

Be wary of faulty pronoun agreement.

As in our original example above, especially if the pronoun is widely separated from its antecedent.

“Each of the men, fully aware of the enormity of the crime, signed their names to the confession.”

Should be: Each of the men…signed his name…” The word “each” indicates they are considered one at a time.

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 5:

Watch for dangling and misplaced modifiers.

“Driving to the office, a huge cement truck cut in front of me!”

Should be: As I was driving…a huge cement truck.” Otherwise, it seems like the cement truck was driving to work!

“The seemingly pretentious woman was walking her French poodle in pink high heels.”

Who was wearing the high heels? The poodle? Should be: “…woman in pink high heels was walking her French poodle.” Modifying phrases have to be as close as possible to their subjects.

GMAT Sentence Corrections – Tip 6:

Keep a running list of idioms!

Idioms are expressions or grammatical constructs that are unique to the language and usually difficult to translate. They often involve the use of a certain preposition.

Simple idioms with prepositions:

We comment on a topic. Not about.

We are capable of doing. But we are able to do.

Something is different from another thing. Not different than.

Some idiomatic pairings:

Just as…so => “Just as Kevin dominated his weight class, so too did his brother James.”

Not only…but also => “Winona painted not only the basement, but also the entire house.”

Keep a running list of idioms as they come up in your online GMAT prep.

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