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How to Make a Subjective GMAT Sentence Correction Question Objective

The GMAT Verbal section, the Sentence Correction portion in particular, ranks among the trickiest parts of the entire application process.

Some simply “get it,” while others toil at it for weeks with little noticeable improvement.

What makes it so difficult, you might ask?

Basically, the section has nothing to do with spoken English.

Unless you very much enjoy reading and writing academic American English, the language structures used might seem pretty damn unfamiliar.

The best preparation is GMAT English would be to be raised by parents who are university professors, then to grow up writing papers for academic journals.

With this knowledge, you can read through the Chicago Manual of Style—the closest approximation to the crazy world of “GMAT Grammar”—and then have a good ear for what “sounds correct.”

I am, of course, joking. However, the joke is not far from what the testwriters seem to think constitutes a good performer in the Sentence Correction section!

So how can you sidestep the testwriters’ intentions?

How can you turn futility into success?

What is necessary to convert your English into GMAT English?

This is where we encounter the mindset shift:

Do you understand the Content? Does the Structure reflect the Content?

The goal of the GMAT Sentence Correction section is this: the Content—that is, what the sentence is trying to say—will be clear from an average of the five choices.

However, the Structure will only be correct on one (or perhaps two) of the answers.

So how can you learn to determine which structure is correct?

There is more to this than simply learning a lot of grammar rules (although that doesn’t hurt anything)!

To reach your goal, you must think as a computer thinks. This is learned.

Imagine that your brain cannot understand anything that is not perfect grammar.

As programmers used to say, “Garbage In; Garbage Out.” That is, the computer is perfectly logical.

A command that is phrased wrong will simply not compute: SYNTAX ERROR.

If you install a SYNTAX ERROR warning in your mind, accepting only logically and grammatically correct sentences, you are halfway home.

That is not to say that you can skimp on learning grammar. Unfortunately, you do need to know what constitutes a “Syntax Error.”

How do you install that warning? How do you learn to trigger it?

Talk to a GMAT Coach today.

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p.s. Stay tuned for the release of the Last Minute Guide to Sentence Correction, soon to be published on Amazon.

p.p.s. Learning what “sounds correct” is a viable option! However, that is only when GMAT grammar becomes intuitive.

About the author

Rowan Hand

Head Coach Rowan Hand has been a GMAT tutor and content developer for more than 10 years. Rowan has coached hundreds of clients in private and group classes. Former clients have gone on to Harvard, LBS, INSEAD, Wharton, and other excellent business schools.