How to Solve Any Sentence Correction Problem on the GMAT, Part 3

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

In Part 1 of this article, we talked about the five-step process to answer Sentence Correction problems, and in Part 2, we discussed some drills to build the needed skills. Make sure to read both of those before continuing with this third article in the series.

Drill Number 3: Find a Starting Point

Once again, open up your Official Guide and look at some problems you have done before. This time, do not read the original sentence. Instead, cover it up.

Compare the answers, and try to articulate all the things that the problem is testing. Note that you can tell what is being tested even if you cannot tell how to answer. For example, you might see a verb switching back and forth between singular and plural. If the subject is not underlined, then you have no idea which verb form is required, because you literally have not even seen the subject. You do, though, know that subject-verb agreement is at issue.

Drill Number 4: Eliminate Answers

Once again, this drill involves problems you have already done. (Sensing a pattern? We learn the most when we are reviewing things we have already done!) This time, though, you are going to get to use the whole problem.

Right after you finish a problem, add the following analysis to your review:

(1) Why is the right answer right? Why is each of the wrong answers wrong?

(2) How would you justify eliminating the right answer? What is the trap that would lead someone to cross this one off?

(3) How would you justify picking any of the wrong answers? What is the trap that would lead someone to pick a wrong answer?

You are probably already doing the first one, but most people skip the second and third steps. The first is important, but you can learn more! When you learn how you (or someone) would fall into the trap of thinking that some wrong answer looks or sounds or feels better than the right one, you will be a lot less likely to fall into that same trap yourself in the future.

Next Steps

Practice these steps until they start to feel like second nature to you. At the same time, of course, learn the grammar rules that we all need to know. Put both pieces together, and you will master sentence correction!

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