Archives For Sentence Correction

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 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…

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

* The striking differences between the semantic organization of Native American languages and that of European languages, in both grammar and vocabulary, have led scholars to think about the degree to which differences in language may be correlated with nonlinguistic differences.

(A) that of European languages, in both grammar and vocabulary, have

(B) that of European languages, including grammar and vocabulary, has

(C) those of European languages, which include grammar and vocabulary, have

(D) those of European languages, in grammar as well as vocabulary, has

(E) those of European languages, both in grammar and vocabulary, has

GMAT grammar

I chose this problem because I wanted to remind myself (and you!) of something that I’ve been forgetting lately. We’ve been focusing a lot on meaning and very long underlines “ sentences in which it’s not so easy to find splits or differences among the answer choices. I wanted to remind myself that sometimes they do give us some easier clues to figure out what’s going on as long as we’re paying attention to the right things.

The process that we’re going to discuss below is my first, ideal process “ if I can use this method, I will. On the more convoluted sentences “ in particular, those with serious meaning issues, which often tend to have large chunks of the sentence changing “ well, okay, I’ll use the techniques that we’ve discussed in other articles. But those techniques are harder to execute and tend to take longer, so I want to use the most streamlined process whenever I can. Continue Reading…

We’ve talked a lot about meaning in sentence correction recently and I’ve got another problem along that same theme for you. The problem I chose comes from the new GMATPrep 2.0 (warning: you may not want to read the explanation until after you’ve used the new software yourself, just in case you see the same problem!). This one actually did also show up in the old version of GMATPrep, but I saw it years ago and forgot about it. When I saw it during my 2.0 test last week, I had the same reaction that I did when I first saw the problem about 5 years ago: I can’t believe they actually did that!

Here’s the problem. Set your timer for 1 minute 15 seconds and go for it!

* As the former chair of the planning board for 18 consecutive years and a board member for 28 years, Joan Philkill attended more than 400 meetings and reviewed more than 700 rezoning applications.

(A) As the former
(B) The former
(C) Former
(D) She was
(E) As the

Short underline “ should be easy right? I received this question as #14 on my test and I got the first 13 questions right. That should give you an idea of the difficulty level. : )
Continue Reading…