How to analyze a sentence. : GMAT Verbal Section
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How to analyze a sentence.

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New post 14 Apr 2012, 11:55
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I thought it might be a good idea to create a checklist, which contains all the aspects one should look for when he/she analyzes a sentence in the SC part of the GMAT. It's not supposed to be a checklist in the traditional sense, but rather aspects of a sentence that you should pay particular attention to while practicing. With time you will remember more and more of the points and also will automatically check the aspects of a sentence without really intentionally thinking about those points.
I'll start with the points that I look at when analyzing a sentence, if you have additions, which you think are important when analyzing sentences, please post them and I will edit this post.

How to analyze a sentence

  • What is the subject?
  • What is the predicate?
  • Do the subject and the predicate make sense together?
  • What verb tense is used?
  • What is the object?
  • What adjectives are used? Is it correct to use an adjective or is an adverb to be used?
  • Are there any modifiers? What kind of modifier is used? If a noun is modified, do the noun and the modifier "touch" each other? Is the modified noun in the possessive form?
  • Are there any pronouns? What is the antecedent of the pronoun? Do they make sense together? Is it obvious to which noun the pronoun is referring to? Is the noun in the possessive form?
  • Are there any words that might indicate a parallel structure of the sentence? Especially look out for words such as represent, be, seem etc.. If there are, look at the tense, possible gerund forms, the objects etc..
  • Do the verb tenses make sense? If not otherwise indicated by the logic of the sentence, all verbs should be in the same tense. Look out for adverbs that indicate time relationships such as "before", "after" etc..
  • Are there any comparisons? Was the right word chosen to express that comparison?
  • Look out for connecting words such as "and", "but, "or" etc.. Do they make sense? Do they indicate parallel sentence parts?
  • Are there any semi-colons or colons? Can the part before the semi-colon or colon stand alone as a sentence?
  • What is the sentence trying to say? What is the meaning of the sentence?
  • Is the wording concise or awkward?

Those are in my opinion the most important questions that you should ask yourself when analyzing a sentence. I benefited a great deal from this method and with time you go through all those points automatically and notice all the common pitfalls the GMAT likes to put in your way.
As I said feel free to add some more points, that you find important and that I forgot.

If this was helpful to you, I'd appreciate your kudos.
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New post 12 May 2012, 06:08
Gooood job man.

Guys please add your points to the list.

Audaces fortuna juvat!

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New post 15 May 2012, 00:32
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Do you use this everytime you see a sentense? I mean - it will take up to a minute just to check it all....
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New post 16 May 2012, 09:56
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I think there may be some over analysis here. The best way to go about SC is in a natural way. Analyzing too heavily can get you stuck in "analysis paralysis"....follow the Nike slogan "Just do it." - The more natural and casual you approach it, the more you'll actually get it without realizing how. We strive to teach this way.

It's good to analyze some - but also note that some of the best people test takers "just do it."
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New post 26 May 2012, 23:25
Hi BN1989,
I agree with the points you have mentioned for SC.

I did try at some point to follow that, but miss the 90 second time limit for a question.

Now after a year & a half I'm starting back to work on my GMAT.

As usual Verbal devil is hitting me hard.

I'm very confused to understand how others are able to crack every SC-rule (per MGMAT SC guide-8) and get the question done correctly within 90 seconds.

Earlier I had lost all hope to cope with Grammar/SC and stopped my GMAT prep. Returning back now.

Hope someone would be able to show me the right path, before I breakdown again.

PS: I'm an Indian and an non native English speaker.

Thanks, Sam
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New post 05 Jun 2012, 01:51
It helps to have a personal list to ensure you don't end up with a silly mistake. However the list in the original post will definitely suck up more time and also as gmatpill pointed out is non intuitive.

Here is a simpler way:

Step 1: Check if there is a modifier, subject-verb, comparison or parallelism issue. These are usually easy to catch and should have some markers such as "than" or "as" would indicate comparison etc.

Step 2: Check for pronoun and tense issues. Somehow I feel these are less tested but more complex.

Step 3: Remove modifiers and make sure that it is not a sentence fragment, or a run-on sentence.

Step 4: See if there is an idiom you are not sure about

Step 5: See if there is word that is redundant or the construction is passive.

Step 6: See if the meaning of the sentence gets distorted in the answer option.

I know 6 steps looks like an overkill but the idea is to write down the answer choices one by one:






Keep striking out the answer options as you go through each step. The idea is you should be able to stop at step 2-3 for easy questions. Also as you practice you should get faster in getting through this almost subconsciously.


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New post 07 Jun 2012, 15:05
We always recommend you start with understanding the intended meaning of the original sentence, then analyze the errors in the original sentence and finally do the POE to arrive at the right answer. While this process may sound quite daunting at first, we and our 1200+ have had tremendous success with it - not only in regards to answering questions in less than 75 seconds but also achieving consistent score improvement. All our SC solutions follow this 3 step process. I have provided the sample solution below:

Example Solution
Even though the solution below is 7 minute long (not the 40 second ones that are for marketing purposes), it includes the thought process that one needs to go through and is completely repeatable for solving all SC questions. e-GMAT experts, Payal and Shraddha have responded to 500+ forum posts on GC and BTG and cleared doubts based on this process.

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New post 10 Jun 2012, 21:59
This is a good thread and an important topic. To the original poster, your list is very good and very thorough (so +1!) - like you say, it's a great list to check when you are reviewing SC problems. One thing I might add is verb voice (active vs. passive) - make sure it's consistent throughout the sentence.

You are also right in saying the goal of studying is to internalize each of the points on your checklist before test day. But keep in mind that's probably an impossible task, so also think about what topics you're good at spotting and which ones you're not. For example, I had a student who had trouble with pronouns. I advised her that if she was ever stuck on a problem, she should always quickly scan the answer choices for the words "it," "its," "them," "they," and "their." That was her "test day checklist," and it worked for her - but like I said, this is a very individual thing, so I wouldn't give the same advice to everyone. Make the list that works for you.

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New post 10 Jun 2012, 22:34
Well, let's take a glance into the fundamentals of analyzing one's handwriting using easy tools. viewing your handwriting, you'll surprise how I will predict my very own character from this. Take this as a projective psychological take a look at and interpret the writing vogue, slant, spacing in between the letters, sizes, the loops and therefore on. Psychologists use this method very often to spot things like health problems, metal issues, ethics, and hidden abilities of their patients.
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New post 10 Jun 2012, 23:21
This is a pretty good list. Agree with the suggestion to add passive/active voice to checklist. However, it is absolutely mandatory that you internalize these tools before taking a real test. The only way to succeed on GMAT Verbal is to cruise through the questions with intuition as your guide.
Re: How to analyze a sentence.   [#permalink] 10 Jun 2012, 23:21
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