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# The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction

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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2012, 08:40
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The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction

The tips and diagram below were created by Mike McGarry, GMAT expert at Magoosh. If you have any questions on anything related to Sentence Correction, grammar, idioms, etc. on the GMAT, let us know and we'd be happy to help!

So, when you are faced with a GMAT Sentence Correction question, the proper thing to do is to read the prompt carefully, and then read all five answer choices carefully, right? WRONG! That is an absolute trainwreck approach, guaranteed to cost 5+ minutes per question. You can’t afford to work that slowly on the GMAT! You need an approach that maximizes efficiency!

The suggested approach above is partially correct. You should read the prompt sentence carefully, noting any grammatical mistakes and any possible areas for improvement. You should NEVER have to read Answer Choice A, since it’s identical the underline text in the sentence. After reading the sentence, you should not read, but SCAN Choices B, C, D, & E, looking for patterns.

The diagram below shows, schematically, a typical Sentence Correction question.

Pretend that the grey boxes are just the information of the sentence, blah, blah, blah. Let’s say that the red circle and the sky-blue triangle represent words or phrases in the original sentence that don’t sound quite right – they are either grammatically incorrect, or ambiguous, or too wordy. Then we scan the answer choices. One pattern we see is that the sky-blue triangle has two alternatives: the orange diamond and the green pentagon. Let’s pretend that, of those three options, the green pentagon is the best. Right there, we have narrowed things down to choices (C) or (E) only. The other options we have to evaluate are red circle vs. purple semicircle. Let’s pretend that that the purple semicircle is preferable. That very quickly isolates (E) as the best choice.

Once you think you have the best answer, always carefully reread the sentence with the answer you have chosen. Ideally, you only have to read word-for-word two things – the original prompt sentence, and the new sentence with the answer choice you have selected.

Applying the Strategy

Admittedly, this example is a little simplified. Sometimes, the alternatives on the real GMAT are not quite as easy to recognize. It’s always true, though, that there will be similarities and patterns among the five answer choices of Sentence Correction. This means, it’s always the most powerful Sentence Correction strategy to read carefully only the prompt sentence, then scan the answer choices, eliminating based on comparisons of similarities and differences. You may be able to narrow the choices down to one simply through scanning, but even if you narrow it down to two, much better to read word-for-word only two answer choices instead of all four! If you can master this strategy, you will maximize the efficiency with which you handle these challenging questions.
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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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06 Jun 2012, 16:26
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I am going to offer a slightly different approach. Before laying into though, it's obviously important to note that there are different strokes for different folks. We should be more careful in advocating techniques like this to preface our approach with that condition.

SC is about the only thing that keeps me alive in the GMAT. I hit anywhere between 75-100% of 750+ questions depending on the day. So, given that, here's my approach:

I read the entire sentence. I then read choice A once more. My approach is entirely built on context, which I think your recommended approach does not award enough significance. Once you have read enough sentences in your life, context will give you the keys to the kingdom. At this point, usually two blatant errors have jumped out at me, or in some cases, only one.

Either way, there will be a 3/2 split available. If two blatant errors jumped out at me, then the problem is usually finished by this point. That's 40 seconds, max. If there was only one, then it's just down to re-reading the remaining options until context highlights the correct answer. Yes, you must know the technical rules regarding parallelism and S&V agreement and what not, but it's all about practice. Eventually, those rules fade into intuition. The last and crucial piece is to take your presumed answer and compare the meaning to choice A, which is one of the common tricks I've seen in that level of question. Obviously you need to backtrack if the meanings differ.

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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07 Jun 2012, 22:06
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The steps that persons take when doing a SC question is important. The problem is that person do not realize some step they do. Some persons do a step subconciously and can not tell other persons what steps they do. I wish experts, native speakers detail the steps they do. This point means native experts have to write down/realize the steps they do subconciously.

Thank you. please, take a SC problem and write down the steps you do. Realize the step you do subconciously. Thank you

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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14 Jun 2012, 12:52
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Eventually, those rules fade into intuition.

The same point was made by Ron on another GMAT forum only when rules fade into intuition you can reach the highest levels.
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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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15 Jun 2012, 06:45
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I read it somewhere in the OG (OG13) that you should build your understanding of English grammar by reading quality writing specifically, it mentioned non-fiction.
If you have read enough of the good stuff in your life, then when someone twists it around you may jump on the errors while reading. Unfortunately, the vast majority of GMAT test takers including myself haven't read enough that they can jump on the error from the context. Hence we have to rely on Strategy guides, which is a quick fix, but not an absolute fix.

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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08 Jul 2012, 18:11
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Vandygrad's strategy is right on the money. Use it.
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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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05 Jan 2014, 16:39
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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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13 Mar 2015, 05:44
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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30 Mar 2016, 11:01
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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12 May 2016, 23:58
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I think this approach works until the level reaches 730 - 750. After that It is all about getting the meaning of the sentence

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2017, 04:57
geometric wrote:
I am going to offer a slightly different approach. Before laying into though, it's obviously important to note that there are different strokes for different folks. We should be more careful in advocating techniques like this to preface our approach with that condition.

SC is about the only thing that keeps me alive in the GMAT. I hit anywhere between 75-100% of 750+ questions depending on the day. So, given that, here's my approach:

I read the entire sentence. I then read choice A once more. My approach is entirely built on context, which I think your recommended approach does not award enough significance. Once you have read enough sentences in your life, context will give you the keys to the kingdom. At this point, usually two blatant errors have jumped out at me, or in some cases, only one.

Either way, there will be a 3/2 split available. If two blatant errors jumped out at me, then the problem is usually finished by this point. That's 40 seconds, max. If there was only one, then it's just down to re-reading the remaining options until context highlights the correct answer. Yes, you must know the technical rules regarding parallelism and S&V agreement and what not, but it's all about practice. Eventually, those rules fade into intuition. The last and crucial piece is to take your presumed answer and compare the meaning to choice A, which is one of the common tricks I've seen in that level of question. Obviously you need to backtrack if the meanings differ.

Hello! Thanks for the post. How do you deal with fluff?

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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13 Apr 2017, 17:59
Terabyte,

this is a great question. I have recently started to focus on sentence correction, and at this point I have just about finished Manhattan's sentence correction strategy guide.
Now, I am focusing my time on getting to the core of the sentence, otherwise known as "removing the fluff," and usually start off a SC problem with the following approach:

1. scan answer choices for decision points
2. read the entire sentence (sometimes I attempt to remove the fluff during this phase)
3. go back and remove the fluff
4. eliminate answers based on decision points and/or incorrect core sentence structure.

I am using this approach to better understand how to remove fluff. However, it is quite time consuming and I don't think I will be using this strategy on test day (unless i get really good at eliminating the fluff as i read the sentence.)

Kudos to those who share their SC strategy/approach.

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Re: The Most Efficient Approach to GMAT Sentence Correction   [#permalink] 13 Apr 2017, 17:59
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