GMAT Impact: How to Solve Any Sentence Correction Problem, Part 1

When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

For the past six months, Manhattan GMAT has been developing a new process for Sentence Correction (SC). Some beta students and classes have seen it, but this is the first time we are debuting it publicly! Read on and let us know what you think. The final details are not set in stone yet, so your comments could actually affect the outcome!

The Five Steps for Sentence Correction

The full article on the MGMAT blog goes into more detail on each step.

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, you will sometimes decide to deviate for some good reason. For most questions, though, you will follow this basic process.

In this post, I briefly introduce each step, but the full article goes into more detail, so make sure to follow up by reading that.

1. First Glance

The idea here is to take a “holistic” glance at the entire screen: let your eyes go slightly out of focus (do NOT read!), look at about the middle of whatever text is on the screen and take in three things:

– the problem type (in this case, SC)
– the length of the whole sentence
– the length of the underline (or the length of the answers)

This first glance will help you formulate a plan of attack.

2. Read the Sentence

Next, read the sentence as a complete sentence, not just a collection of potential grammar issues. Pay attention to the overall meaning that the sentence is trying to convey.

3. Find a Starting Point

4. Eliminate Answers

When you spot something you know is wrong, immediately cross off answer (A) on your scrap paper. Check that same issue (and only that issue!) in the remaining answer choices; eliminate any answers that repeat the error.

5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4

SC is a bit annoying in that your initial starting point often will not allow you to cross off all four wrong answers. You usually have to find multiple starting points.

Once you have dealt with one issue, return either to the original sentence or to a comparison of the answer choices, wherever you left off.

What to Do When You Are Stuck

In general, once you get stuck, give yourself one shot to “unstick” yourself. Try comparing different answers to see whether anything new pops out at you. If not, guess and move on.

Half of the battle on the GMAT is knowing when to stop trying. Set explicit “cutoffs” for yourself—rules for when to let go—and stick to them!

Next Steps

Got all of that? Good!

In the second and third parts of this series, I will give you some drills that you can use to build the different skills needed to get through a sentence correction problem. Until then, go ahead and practice the overall process until you internalize the different steps. Good luck!

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