Archives For Sentence Correction

GMAT test prep book official guide companion for sentece correction

We are very excited to announce that our new book, The Official Guide Companion for Sentence Correction, will hit bookshelve today, December 3rd!

What is the OGSC (for short)?

It’s one of the best GMAT study guides you could have (if we do say so ourselves)!

Here’s the deal: nearly everyone studies from The Official Guide for GMATÒ Review, 13th Edition (or OG13). This book contains about 900 real GMAT questions that appeared on the exam in the past. OG13 does contain explanations, but those explanations are “textbook” explanations: reading them is like reading a grammar book. The answers are completely accurate but a bit hard to follow if you’re not a grammar teacher (and some of them are hard to follow even when you are a grammar teacher… ahem).

So we decided to remedy that problem by writing our own explanations for every single one of the 159 Sentence Correction problems contained in OG13. We’ll tell you the SC Process for getting through any SC question efficiently and effectively. We’ll also discuss how to eliminate each wrong answer in terms that are easy for students (not just teachers) to understand. The book includes an extra section on sentence structure and a glossary of common grammar terms. Finally, you’ll gain access to our online GMAT Navigator program which lets you track your OG work, time yourself, and view your performance data so that you can better determine your strengths and weaknesses.

Who should use the OGSC?

Are you struggling to improve your SC performance? Do you love studying official problems but hate trying to decipher the sometimes-mystifying official explanations? Do you want to throw your OG13 across the room when you read yet another explanation that says an answer choice is “wordy” or “awkward”?

If something is “awkward,” there is a real reason why—and we explain that specific reason to you so that you can start to pick out similar faulty constructions on other problems in future. (Did you know that, most of the time, “wordy” and “awkward” are code words for an ambiguous or illogical meaning? The OGSC will help you learn how to decipher these for yourself!)

How can I get the most out of the OGSC?

First, read the introduction chapter, where you’ll learn all about how to work through an SC problem in an efficient manner.

Next, if you have already started studying Sentence Correction problems from the OG, begin with the problems that you’ve tried recently. Try to articulate to yourself why each of the four wrong answers is wrong. Try to find all of the errors in each answer (though, on the real test, just one error is enough to eliminate an answer!).

Note: You don’t need to use grammar terminology when you’re trying to articulate why something’s wrong, but do try to go beyond “this one sounds bad.” That’s a good starting point but which part, specifically, sounds bad? What sounds so bad about that part?

Then, check yourself against the explanations. If you didn’t spot a particular error, go back to the problem and ask yourself what clues (in the form of differences in the answer choices) will alert you the next time this particular topic is being tested. If you didn’t know how to handle the issue but now understand from the explanation, make yourself a flashcard to help you remember whatever that is for future. If the explanation seems like Greek to you, then maybe this particular issue is too hard and your take-away is to skip something like this in future and make a guess!

When you’re ready to try new OG problems, make sure to do them under timed conditions (try to average about 1 minute 20 seconds on SC). When you’re done, check the answer. If you guessed, go ahead straight to the explanation. If you got it right, try to articulate why each incorrect answer is wrong, then check the explanation. If you got it wrong, look at the problem again to see whether you might have made a careless mistake. Then go to the explanation.

Where can I get the OGSC?

You can find The Official Guide Companion for Sentence Correction on our website starting today!

Let us know what you think in the Comments section below. Good luck and happy studying!

gmat sentence correction For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been learning the 4-step SC Process. (If you haven’t read that two-part article yet, go do so now!) Also, grab your copy of The Official Guide 13th Edition (OG13); you’re going to need it for the exercises in this article.

People often ask what they should check “first” in SC, or in what order they should check various potential grammar problems. It would take too long to check for a laundry list of error types every time, though, so what to do? You take a First Glance: a 2-3 second glance at the screen with the goal of picking up a clue or two about this problem before you even start reading it.

Open up your OG13 to the SC section right now—any page will do—and find a really long underline. Now find a really short one.

How would you react to each of these? Each one has its own hints. Think about this before you keep reading.

A really long underline increases the chances that “global” issues will be tested. These issues include Structure, Meaning, Modifiers, and Parallelism—it’s easier to test all of these issues when the underline contains a majority of the sentence.

A really short underline (around 5-6 words or fewer) should trigger a change in strategy. Instead of reading the original sentence first, compare the answers to see what the differences are. This won’t take long because there aren’t many words to compare! Those differences can give you ideas as to what the sentence is testing.

Either way, you’ve now got some ideas about what might be happening in the sentence before you even read it—and that is the goal of the First Glance.

Read a Couple of Words

Next, we’re going to do a drill.  Flip to page 672 (print edition) of OG13 but don’t read anything yet. Also, open up a notebook or a file on your computer to take notes. (Note: I’m starting us on the first page of SC problems because I want to increase the chances that you’ve already done some of these problems in the past. It’s okay if you haven’t done them all yet. You can also switch to a different page if you want, but I’m going to discuss some of these problems below, FYI.)

Start with the first problem on the page. Give yourself a maximum of 5 seconds to glance at that problem. Note the length of the underline. Read the word right before the underline and the first word of the underline, but that’s it! Don’t read the rest of the sentence. Also go and look at the first word of each answer choice. As you do this, takes notes on what you see.

For the next step, you can take all the time you want (but still do not go back and read the full sentence / problem). Ask yourself whether any of that provides any clues. Continue Reading…

gmat sentence correctiongmat sentence correctionIn the first half of this article, we talked about the 5-step process to answer SC problems:

1. Take a First Glance

2. Read the Sentence

3. Find a Starting Point

4. Eliminate Answers

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4

If you haven’t already learned that process, read the first half before continuing with this part.

Drills to Build Skills

How do you learn to do all of this stuff? You’re going to build some skills that will help at each stage of the way. You might already feel comfortable with one or multiple of these skills, so feel free to choose the drills that match your specific needs.

Drill Number 1: First Glance

Open up your Official Guide and find some lower-numbered SC questions that you’ve already tried in the past. Give yourself a few seconds (no more than 5!) to glance at a problem, then look away and say out loud what you noticed in those few seconds.

As you develop your First Glance skills, you can start to read a couple of words: the one right before the underline and the first word of the underline. Do those give you any clues about what might be tested in the problem? For instance, consider this sentence:

Xxx xxxxxx xxxx xx and she xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxxxx.

I can’t know for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that this problem might test parallelism, because the word and falls immediately before the underline. When I read the sentence, I’ll be looking for an X and Y parallelism structure.

At first, you’ll often say something like, “I saw that the underline starts with the word psychologists but I have no idea what that might mean.” (Note: this example is taken from OG13 SC #1!) That’s okay; you’re about to learn. Go try the problem (practicing the rest of the SC process as described in the first half of this article) and ask yourself again afterwards, “So what might I have picked up from that starting clue?”

The word psychologists is followed by a comma… so perhaps something will be going on with modifiers? Or maybe this is a list? The underline is really long as well, which tends to go with modifiers. Now, when you start to read the sentence, you will already be prepared to figure out what’s going on with this word. (In this case, it turns out that psychologists is followed only by modifiers; the original sentence is missing a verb!)

Drill Number 2: Read the Sentence

Take a look at some OG problems you’ve tried before. Read only the original sentence. Then, look away from the book and articulate aloud, in your own words, what you think the sentence is trying to convey. You don’t need to limit yourself to one sentence. You can also glance back at the problem to confirm details.

I want to stress the “out loud” part; you will be able to hear whether the explanation is sufficient. If so, try another problem.

If you’re struggling or unsure, then one of two things is happening. Either you just don’t understand, or the sentence actually doesn’t have a clear meaning and that’s why it’s wrong! Decide which you think it is and then look at the explanation. Does the explanation’s description of the sentence match what you thought—the sentence actually does have a meaning problem? If not, then how does the explanation explain the sentence? That will help you learn how to “read it right” the next time. (If you don’t like the OG explanation, try looking in our GMAT Navigator program or on the forums.)

Drill Number 3: Find a Starting Point

Once again, open up your OG and look at some problems you have done before. This time, do NOT read the original sentence. Instead, cover it up. Continue Reading…

gmat sentence correction For the past six months, we’ve been developing a new process for Sentence Correction. Some beta students and classes have seen it, but this is the first time we’re debuting it publicly! Read on and let us know what you think. The final details aren’t set in stone yet, so your comments could actually affect the outcome!

The 5 Steps for Sentence Correction

I’ll go into more detail on all of these below.

1. Take a First Glance

2. Read the Sentence

3. Find a Starting Point

4. Eliminate Answers

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4

As with any process, there are times when you will decide to deviate for some good reason. For most questions, though, you’ll follow this same basic process.

1. First Glance

When a new problem of any type first pops up on the screen, what do you do? Of course, you need to read the problem—but that’s actually your second step, not your first!

First, take a “holistic” glance at the entire screen: let your eyes go slightly out of focus (don’t read!), look at about the middle of whatever text is on the screen, and take in 3 things:

- the problem type

Right now, you might be thinking: well of course, the first thing you would notice is the problem type. A colleague of mine recently put this to the test with a series of students. She put a quant problem in front of them and, after a few seconds, she suddenly covered it up. Then she asked “Was that DS or PS?”

Prepare to have your mind blown: most of the time, they didn’t know! DS and PS are immediately and obviously different if you’re looking for the clues at first glance. People are so stressed about starting to solve, though, that they myopically focus on the first word of the problem and are “blind” to the full picture right in front of them.

- the length of the whole sentence

- the length of the underline (or the length of the answers)

How does this help? If the answer choices are really short (around 5 words or fewer), then you might actually choose to read and compare them before you read the full sentence up above. If the underline / answers are very long, there’s a good chance the question will test Structure, Meaning, Modifiers, or Parallelism.

You won’t always spot a good clue during your First Glance, but most of the time you will—especially when you practice this skill! Continue Reading…

I’ve got a fascinating (and infuriating!) GMATPrep problem for you today; this comes from the free problem set included in the new GMATPrep 2.0 version of the software. Try it out (1 minute 15 seconds) and then we’ll talk about it!

*  Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, there is a disinclination on the part of many people to recognize the degree to which their analytical skills are weak.

 

(A) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, there is a disinclination on the part of many people to recognize the degree to which their analytical skills are weak.

(B) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, which they admit they lack, many people are disinclined to recognize that their analytical skills are weak.

(C) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, analytical skills bring out a disinclination in many people to recognize that they are weak to a degree.

(D) Many people, willing to admit that they lack computer skills or other technical skills, are disinclined to recognize that their analytical skills are weak.

(E) Many people have a disinclination to recognize the weakness of their analytical skills while willing to admit their lack of computer skills or other technical skills.

 

gmat skillsI chose this problem because I thought the official explanation fell short; specifically, there are multiple declarations that something is wordy or awkward. While I agree with those characterizations, they aren’t particularly useful as teaching tools “ how can we tell that something is wordy or awkward? There isn’t an absolute way to rule; it’s a judgment call.

Now, I can understand why whoever wrote this explanation struggled to do so; this is an extremely difficult problem to explain. And that’s exactly why I wanted to have a crack at it “ I like a challenge. : )

Okay, let’s talk about the problem. My first reaction to the original sentence was: nope, that’s definitely wrong. When you think that, your next thought should be, Why? Which part, specifically? This allows you to know that you have a valid reason for eliminating an answer and it also allows you to figure out what you should examine in other answers.

Before you read my next paragraph, answer that question for yourself. What, specifically, doesn’t sound good or doesn’t work in the original sentence?
Continue Reading…

This week, we’re going to analyze a particularly tough GMATPrepSentence Correction question.

First, set your timer for 1 minute and 15 seconds and try the problem!

Research has shown that when speaking, individuals who have been blind from birth and have thus never seen anyone gesture nonetheless make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way as sighted people do, and that they will gesture even when conversing with another blind person.

A) have thus never seen anyone gesture nonetheless make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way as sighted people do, and that

B) have thus never seen anyone gesture but nonetheless make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way that sighted people do, and

C) have thus never seen anyone gesture, that they nonetheless make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way as sighted people do, and

D) thus they have never seen anyone gesture, but nonetheless they make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way that sighted people do, and that

E) thus they have never seen anyone gesture nonetheless make hand motions just as frequently and in the same way that sighted people do, and

 

Okay, have you got your answer? Now, let’s dive into this thing! What did you think when you read the original sentence?GMAT modifier

This is a very tough problem; when I read the sentence the first time, I actually had to stop and try to strip the sentence down to its basic core, then figure out how the modifiers fit. Until I did that, I couldn’t go any further.
Continue Reading…

I’ve got a fascinating little GMATPrep problem for you today. Try it out (1 minute 15 seconds) and then we’ll talk about it!

*  As the honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed, staying where it is inserted, this results in the act of stinging causing the bee to sustain a fatal injury.

 

(A) As the honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed, staying where it is inserted, this results in the act of stinging causing

(B) As the heavily barbed stinger of the honeybee stays where it is inserted, with the result that the act of stinging causes

(C) The honeybee’s stinger, heavily barbed and staying where it is inserted, results in the fact that the act of stinging causes

(D) The heavily barbed stinger of the honeybee stays where it is inserted, and results in the act of stinging causing

(E) The honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed and stays where it is inserted, with the result that the act of stinging causes

 

gmat beeI chose this problem because it addresses multiple tricky issues that are perhaps easy to hear “ if you have built a good GMAT ear “ but are difficult to explain or articulate. Anything that’s difficult to explain or articulate to yourself is harder to remember. It’s also easier for us to be fooled by our ears on such sentences.

Okay, let’s talk about the problem. My first reaction to the original sentence was: nope, that’s definitely wrong. Now, when the clock is actually ticking and I’m that confident, I don’t bother to try to explain to myself why, exactly, this one is wrong. I just cross off A and look for others that I can cross off for the same reasons I crossed off A.

Here, though, I hit a snag. When I went to the cross off anything else with the same mistake step there wasn’t a single word or location in the sentence on which I could concentrate.
Continue Reading…

GMAT Sentence CorrectionA lot of students have reported lately that the Sentence Correction questions on the official test were a lot harder than what they were expecting, or that they’ve been having trouble finding splits (differences) in the answers. Or they find the splits but don’t know how to process them / what to do with them. They narrow down to two answers but then don’t know how to pick between the two “ they can see the differences but aren’t sure of the significance of those differences.

The title of this article is a little bit misleading “ nothing about the SC section is technically new. The proportion of certain types of questions, though, has been changing, and so the section can feel very different (and challenging!) for someone who’s not prepared for that.

Before we dive into our discussion, I also want to mention another major reason why someone might feel that SC (and / or CR and RC) are much harder on the real test: if you’re suffering from mental fatigue late in the test, everything will feel harder. People are more prone to suffer from mental fatigue if they are not taking practice tests under 100% official conditions (including essay + IR, two 8-minute breaks, and so on).

How have things been changing?

Many people have heard by now that meaning is much more commonly tested than it used to be “ GMAC announced this about 9 months ago. Lots of students, though, don’t quite know what to do with that information. This changes what we study, of course, but it also changes what we expect to see when looking at the questions themselves, and it can change the process we use to answer an SC question.

Continue Reading…