Over nearly ten years teaching people the GMAT, one thing comes up repeatedly.
For almost everyone, the place to gain points most quickly is Sentence Correction.
Most people thoroughly misunderstand the section and tend to rely on “doing it by ear.” While this technique works a good chunk of the time—the easier it is to do the better your Standard American English is—it will not help in sticky circumstances.
So you’re already good at Verbal?
Look, even if Quant seems like a greater concern over all, spending even two or three hours improving your Sentence Correction could reflect very favorably on your ultimate GMAT score.
First, you want to understand how the GMAT perceives grammar.
Are there any true gaps in your grammar knowledge? For most of us, there are.
Are there things that you thought were correct but you’ve found not to be correct?
Are there things that you didn’t actually know were grammar errors?
Enter Last Minute GMAT Grammar – my new book, free on Amazon until 28 November 2014.
The book is meant to be a quick and effective review of GMAT grammar.
You can read it in one to two hours, and no matter where you find yourself in your GMAT prep—from just beginning to taking the exam tomorrow!—you will be able to find actionable points immediately.
As GMAT takers understand—sometimes all too well—a grammar review is necessary for both native and non-native English speakers.
Sentence Correction is one of the most underestimated sections on the GMAT. People just seem to think it’s easy!
This is certainly untrue.
Check out some facts:
–I’ve taught GMAT for nearly ten years. During this time, I’ve noted that the Sentence Correction section is the section where students see the most progress in the shortest span of time.
–Still, I find the Sentence Correction section to be the place where students never quite get it right. In point of fact, difficult—mostly idiom-based—questions will always require a certain amount of memorization of what the testwriters expect of you in a certain situation.
Is that actually grammar? Arguably, no. However, that’s the way it is and there’s no use in fighting the test. Better just to beat it on its own (unfair) terms.
All in all, it is easy to gain competence at Sentence Correction, but it is difficult to gain total mastery for the reasons addressed above.
This separates it from the other sections—in the others, sufficient training can lead to actual mastery. That is, if you “get it,” you will be able to reach 95-100% mastery on Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions.
Perhaps—and maybe I’m wrong here—this is because Sentence Correction is the section that requires the testtaker to hold the most specific information in her head for the longest period of time.
That is, you have five answer choices, sometimes with 3-5 errors per choice. Not to mention you have no reason to assume that the correct choice will sound “poetic” or “appealing.”
Like all parts of the GMAT Verbal section, the Sentence Correction section is more about eliminating incorrect answer choices than about choosing a correct answer choice.
That is, you must be able to throw out bad answer choices before you’ll be totally certain that your preferred choice is in fact the best among a bad lot of choices.
Notice that many of the answers won’t sound good or even right to the ear. They might seem a somewhat off, but not all that much. Often there is an answer choice that “sounds better.” That is, it sounds more like speech.
However, that doesn’t matter at all to the GMAT. GMAT grammar uses what it calls “Standard Written American English.”
Of course there is no true standard of American English (or, more correctly, there are a handful of them and none of them are 100% consistent).
However, all of these points are covered in Last Minute GMAT Grammar. When GMAT usage differs from standard usage, I will note this.
What is the best move for you, today, to improve your Sentence Correction score? Put simply, download a free copy of Last Minute GMAT Grammar — FREE on Kindle until 28 November 2014.
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