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Sentence Correction: My 'Native Speaker' Experience

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3 KUDOS received
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 10

Kudos [?]: 12 [3], given: 1

Concentration: Economics, Strategy
GMAT 1: 760 Q49 V46
GPA: 4
WE: Business Development (Investment Banking)
Sentence Correction: My 'Native Speaker' Experience [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2012, 21:48
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Moderators: I'm unsure if I've posted this in the right area; please move this to whichever section you feel fit.

I thought I would share my experience of sentence correction from the perspective of a native speaker. When I first read through the structure of the GMAT, I scoffed at the idea of sentence correction. "Easy", I thought, "I pride myself on adhering to rules of English grammar". My blinkered approach made me lose sight of the tens - possibly hundreds - of unchecked grammatical errors that I had developed through the years.

In any case, I dived straight in, relying upon my 'ear'. It failed. Miserably. I felt frustrated, annoyed and down right indignant. But after that, I realised the first, most important lesson: ditch the native speaker tag you have assigned yourself and all the 'entitlement' that comes with it; struggle through the material like everyone else as you have much to learn.

I may be preaching to the converted here, but this was my epiphany to ever move forward (I have a Mathematics degree - so imagine what I thought about the Quant section!). I then needed a plan to tackle the Sentence Correction. I used the following:

1. MGMAT Sentence Correction Guides
2. OG 12 and Verbal Review 2 Ed.
3. Aristotle SC Guide
4. Three to four highlighters.
5. A stack of blank 11x18 cards.
6. A photocopier.

My plan was to attack the Sentence Correction piece by piece, mastering each error type in the MGMAT SC guide. I would then write down specific questions on the card, with answers on the back (e.g. "what are the singular "SANAM" pronouns?" or "write down and explain the difference in using 'who' and 'whom'"). I did the exercises, including the 25 bonus questions provided online. There wasn't a single stone I left unturned in that book.

The second aspect was the crucial part. I found that my success would hinge on identifying which topics the question was testing. That way, I would understand the errors and understand which lessons I could apply. For this, I used the Verbal Review - I wanted the OG questions to be used for the next part. I photocopied all the pages at work, and then applied this tactic. My focus initially would not be on attempting to answer the questions, but really reasoning "why would this sentence be wrong". I took the highlighters and highlighted the aspects of the sentence according to the topic (yellow for S-V, red for modifiers, blue for pronouns etc.). I would then write my reasons why. I then went through the answers and wrote my own explanations as to why they would be wrong.

I got to such a level of proficiency that as soon as I read the question, I knew exactly what the GMAC (or Aristotle SC) was testing (logical prediction was a bit of a black swan, but that was also resolved with enough practice). It was only then that I started to apply the split approach.

Now that I was achieving 95% accuracy, I started aiming for speed and stamina. Here, I used the OG questions. I took a stop watch and took a batch of 30 questions. I set my alarm clock to go off after 25mins. At first I was nowhere close, but my speed improved with every batch. I never did break the 25min mark, but at the very least I was averaging 1min a question.

In all, it took me 3 weeks to get to that position, but it was definitely a contributor to my final GMAT grade of 760. Should you wish further clarification on any aspect of my SC preparation, please feel free to ask.

I must stress again for all those using their 'ear' to answer SC questions: shun this method, and accept that the native speaker is (ironically) in the most difficult position for SC!

Kudos [?]: 12 [3], given: 1

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Joined: 27 Feb 2012
Posts: 35

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 13

Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Marketing
GPA: 3.02
WE: Other (Education)
GMAT ToolKit User
Re: Sentence Correction: My 'Native Speaker' Experience [#permalink]

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New post 16 May 2012, 10:32
Congrats on your score! Helpful info for a native speaker. Kudos for you!

Long journey, but not impossible.

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 13

Re: Sentence Correction: My 'Native Speaker' Experience   [#permalink] 16 May 2012, 10:32
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Sentence Correction: My 'Native Speaker' Experience

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