The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an assessment test taken by students who are aspiring to pursue a management course at business schools around the world. Almost every business school has a similar application process with students applying for their candidature with an application form along with their GMAT score.
THIS BLOG INCLUDES:
1. Top GMAT Grammar Rules You Must Know
2. GMAT Sentence Correction
3. Tips to Tackle Inverted Sentence Structures in GMAT
4. GMAT Word Problems: Basic Approach
5. GMAT Idioms of Comparison
6. How to Write an Introduction to a GMAT AWA Essay?
7. GMAT Short Passages – Easy or Tricky?
The GMAT exam is a computer adaptive test. It has 4 sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Analysis (AWA).
The general perception is that the GMAT Quantitative section is tougher than Verbal Reasoning. This may not always be true, especially for non–native English speakers. The verbal reasoning section can be equally challenging.
Therefore, it becomes important to focus on brushing up on some basic GMAT sentence correction grammar rules for GMAT. GMAT verbal reasoning section has 36 multiple-choice questions based on Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.
GMAT Sentence correction questions not only test GMAT grammar fundamentals but also test the correct usage of words and phrases. Therefore, while preparing for GMAT sentence correction questions focus on two aspects–
Sentence correction questions measure language proficiency, based on an effective expression that is grammatically sound. Each question will have a sentence or a part underlined, to be restructured, by choosing the right answer from the multiple choices given. While picking the right answer one has to base the choice on context, grammar, word choice, and sentence construction.
While attempting GMAT sentence correction questions identifying grammatical errors alone will not be enough. A grammatically correct sentence should also retain the correct meaning of the original sentence based on its context.
Here are some basic GMAT sentence correction rules that you need to know to answer questions related to them appropriately:
The agreement is a match between words and phrases, which is essential for clarity of expression. Various parts of speech should agree with each other in number, person, gender, and case to convey a thought properly.
Subject–verb agreement refers to an agreement between the subject and verb.
The rule to remember here is
E.g. He acts (singular), they act (plural)
If answer choices in the test differ based on singular and plural verbs, the question is testing the subject–verb agreement. To pick the right answer, identify whether the subject in question is singular or plural. Based on that information, fit in the right verb following the rule mentioned above.
In English, it refers to the use of matching sentence structure, phrases, or longer parts to balance ideas of equal importance. It is also sometimes called a parallel structure or parallel construction.
A modifier is a word, a group of words or clauses that function as adjectives or adverbs which are used to describe other words in a sentence. They affect nouns, other verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in a sentence.
The Green Coat. “Green” as an adjective is a modifier describing the noun “Coat”
The match was exciting. “Exciting” is used as a modifier here to describe the “match”
GMAT Modifiers are optional words in a sentence. Adding or removing them does not change the meaning of a sentence. However, when used properly they make writing more descriptive and interesting. GMAT sentence correction questions contain dangling or misplaced modifiers–related questions.
Place them as close as possible to the words or phrases they help modify. Not doing so will make it difficult for the reader to identify which word the modifier is associated with within a sentence.
Most commonly made mistakes with GMAT SC modifiers:
When the writer includes a modifier but forgets to mention the subject it is describing (modifying), it leaves the modifier dangling.
Incorrect – Thirsty, the drink was gulped.
Here “thirsty” is a dangling modifier, as the subject is missing.
Correct – Thirsty, we gulped the drink
When the placement of the modifier is away from its subject or is misplaced, it is called a misplaced modifier. Incorrect placement makes it difficult for the reader to understand the meaning of the sentence.
Incorrect – Anita only paints on weekends.
The sentence means, Anita does not do anything but paint on weekends.
Correct – Anita paints only on weekends.
The sentence rightly conveys that Anita paints only on weekends.
Faulty comparison occurs when a similar comparison pertaining to people, things or a set of groups is missing in a sentence.
Incorrect – I like sandwiches, but Café Coffee Day’s sandwiches are better than Barista’s.
Here the comparison is incomplete as café coffee day’s sandwiches are being compared with Barista (the café). This makes the sentence illogical.
Correct – I like sandwiches, but Café Coffee Day’s sandwiches are better than Barista’s sandwiches.
Here the comparison is between the sandwiches available at both cafes, which is a balanced comparison.
Nouns and verbs ending in –ing are called gerunds. Sometimes verbs and adjectives ending in –ing are also called participles. The general opinion is that gerunds weaken the writing as they make a sentence wordy.
“James is running daily”. This is a wordy sentence.
“James runs daily”. This is less wordy and clear.
Cambridge University dictionary describes idioms as a group of words whose meaning considered as a unit is different from the meanings of each word considered separately.
The most common mistake students make in the GMAT sentence correction section is using prepositional idioms interchangeably. The correct usage is given below:
Be aware of these rules for sentence correction GMAT while reading, writing, and speaking in general. This will help you become conscious of the context, which in turn will speed up your learning and will help you perform better in the GMAT sentence correction questions section.
Can there be some error in the non-underlined part of a GMAT Sentence Correction question? This is a common question asked by a lot of people preparing for the GMAT. Instead of answering this question upfront, let me take an example.
Especially in the early years, new entrepreneurs may need to find resourceful ways, like renting temporary office space or using answering services, that make their company seem large and more firmly established than they may actually be.
A) that make their company seem large
B) to make their companies seem large
C) thus making their companies seem larger
D) so that the companies seem larger
E) of making their company seem large
The question that is likely to crop up in our mind is: how can “like” be used to introduce examples?
Do not ever worry about errors in the non-underlined portion of the sentence in a GMAT Sentence Correction question. There won’t be any.
Let’s consider this example. Here “like” is not used to introduce examples. The new entrepreneurs need not find resourceful ways such as “renting temporary office space” or “using answering services” because these “ways” are already there. The new entrepreneurs need to find other resourceful ways that are similar to the two mentioned above.
This is another difference between “like” and “such as”: “such as” includes, “like” excludes.
When I was in the USA, I used to eat fruits such as bananas and apples. — Fruits that I used to eat included bananas and apples.
When I was in the USA, I searched for fruits like wooden apples, but could not find any. — I didn’t search for wood apples – perhaps, I knew that I would not get wood apples, so I searched for fruits that were similar to wood apples – not wood apples.
In the sentence under reference, “renting temporary office space” and “using answering services” are resourceful ways already found out. New entrepreneurs may need to find resourceful ways other than these — they don’t need to find these resourceful ways. They need to find (new) resourceful ways similar to these.
Therefore, the use of “like” here is justified.
Further, note that you do not need to worry about this part of the sentence to get to the right answer.
Even if there is a mistake in the non-underlined part, refer to Rule 1.
One of the biggest challenges in the GMAT test is the question type called ‘Sentence Correction’. The questions are deliberately structured in a way that the right answers seem wrong and the wrong ones seem right. Such questions certainly do not sound or read like how we normally speak or write. Such a structure is called the ‘inverted structure’ of the sentence.
The money was kept on the table – a simple sentence
On the table, was my money – an inverted sentence
In a typical sentence, the subject precedes the verb, however in an inverted sentence, as it is rightly called, the verb precedes the subject. The clue for such a construction is typically a prepositional phrase – in this case, “on the table”, followed by a verb. It is important to recognize that the object of the prepositional phrase, “table,” cannot be the subject of the verb, “was,” so we know that the subject will come after the verb.
Let’s look at an actual example of an inverted structure from an official GMAT question:
The Achaemenid empire of Persia reached the Indus Valley in the fifth century B.C., bringing the Aramaic script with it, from which was derived both northern and southern Indian alphabets.
(A) the Aramaic script with it, from which was derived both northern and
(B) the Aramaic script with it, and from which deriving both the northern and
(C) with it the Aramaic script, from which derive both the northern and the
(D) with it the Aramaic script, from which derives both northern and
(E) with it the Aramaic script, and deriving from it both the northern and
So what do we think the alphabets were derived from? From the Aramaic script.
Notice that in options A and B, the closest referent to “which” is “it.” It would be confusing for one pronoun, “which,” to have another pronoun, “it,” as its antecedent. Moreover, “it” here seems to refer to the Achaemenid Empire. Can we say that the alphabet is derived from the empire? No, we cannot. Thus, the first two options get canceled. Option E also indicates that the alphabet is derived from the empire, so it also is canceled.
We’re now left with options C and D. We have the clue “from which,” followed immediately by the verb “derive” or “derives.” Thus, the subject for this verb is going to come later in the sentence, in this case, the northern and southern alphabets. If we were to rearrange the sentences so that they had a more conventional structure, our correct answer would lie between the following options:
C) Both the northern and the southern Indian alphabets derive from [the empire.]
D) Both northern and southern Indian alphabets derive from [the empire.]
The correct verb to pair with “alphabets” is “derive.” Therefore, option C is the answer you would choose in this case.
Therefore, if you see a prepositional phrase with a verb, it is in most likelihood an inverted sentence. In that case, you need to look for the subject after the verb instead of before to arrive at the correct answer.
GMAT Word Problems may involve Arithmetic Estimation, thus, it is very important to have consistent “Basics of sentence correction for GMAT”. Learn here the best approach:
In common parlance, a Word Problem is a math question where significant information is provided as text rather than in the form of mathematical notation.
Although the Official Guide GMAC presents examples of “Word Problems” of 10 types, these are not the only type of Word Problems that you will come across in the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning Section.
You may get a Word Problem that may involve Arithmetic Estimation. Therefore, it is very important to know GMAT sentence correction basics to handle Word Problems.
With a few exceptions, Word Problems are usually long and contain several pieces of information. If you read the full question in one go, you may become overwhelmed as you finish reading the full question. It is, therefore, advisable that you use the Bite-Sized Pieces approach not only while solving the question but also while reading the question.
Keep noting down small pieces of information as you read the question. As regards the application of the Bite-Sized Pieces approach while solving the question, you will, however, need to determine which Bite-Sized Piece you should start with, and, for that, you will also need to figure out beforehand the steps involved in solving the problem.
While you will note down certain pieces of information as they are mentioned in the question, in certain cases it makes better sense to jot down a certain piece of information in mathematical form.
For example, “Mark sold 10 boxes less than n and Ann sold 2 boxes less than n” can easily be jotted down as “M = n ─ 10″ and “A = n ─ 2″. Similarly, “Makoto, Nishi, and Ozuro … each was paid in proportion to the number of hours he or she worked … Makoto worked 15 hours, Nishi worked 20 hours, and Ozuro worked 30 hours” can be easily jotted down as “M: N:O = 15:20:30”.
It’s very important to pay attention to what the question is asking. If a question is asking “how many more integers are there in set Y than in set X”, you should not end up answering “how many integers are there in set Y”. The question asks “of those consumers who indicated one of the four techniques listed, what fraction indicated either coupons or store displays?” One may land up with answer option (C) if one fails to take note of what the final question is asking and the fact that “the table shows partial results of a survey”.
Often by looking at the answers, you may be able to eliminate a few answer choices. In a few cases, it may be possible for you to figure out whether the question is amenable to ball-parking or estimation. In some other cases, by looking at the answers you will be able to figure out what technique you may be able to use to solve that question. Treat the answer choices as part of the question when attempting a Word Problem.
Idioms are commonly tested on GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Many people usually think of idioms as proverbs or adages — like the ‘muhavaras’ (मुहावरे) we learned in school!. But those idioms do not matter on the GMAT. When we talk about idioms on the GMAT, we often mean standard use of language.
Sentence Correction questions have three types of errors related to idioms of comparison. For one, the sentence may use a non-standard idiom. Second, the comparison may be faulty. Finally, the comparison may not be properly parallel. Let us look at each of these errors.
Standard usage is about using the right words and combining them in the right way. Since English grammar for GMAT allows comparisons to be made in so many different ways, there is great scope for confusion and error.
However, the most essential comparison idioms for the GMAT are also the simplest.
A related point is the use of between vs among Use between for comparing two things and among for comparing more than two.
Equally simple and equally essential is the basic usage of as and then. The right idioms are as (something) as and more (something) than.
|Correct: Life is as strange as fiction. ✓Incorrect: Life is as strange as fiction. ✗||Correct: Life is stranger than fiction. ✓Incorrect: Life is strange as fiction. ✗|
Quantitative comparisons are frequently tested on the GMAT. One important point is the use of fewer vs less. The Official Guide says, “Fewer refers to a specific number, whereas less refers to a quantity.” Thus we say fewer cars and less traffic, not fewer cars or less traffic. However, more work for both countable and uncountable quantities: more cars, more traffic.
A common point of confusion is the difference between like and as when the words are used for comparisons. The usual explanation is that like is used to compare nouns and pronouns; as is used to compare actions or states.
Correct: Mr. Raju grew up in Hyderabad, as did Mr. Reddy. ✓
Correct: As did Mr. Reddy, Mr. Raju grew up in Hyderabad. ✓
Correct: Like Mr. Reddy, Mr. Raju grew up in Hyderabad. ✓
Incorrect: As Mr. Reddy, Mr. Raju grew up in Hyderabad. ✗
On the GMAT, getting an idiom right is often about using the right preposition.
Look at these sentences:
We say similar to and identical to, but we must say different from and same as. We can’t say different to or same to that would be wrong English. But why? Is there any logical reason to use from with different, as with same, and with similar and identical? None at all — that’s just the way it is! Such GMAT grammar basics, which come naturally to native speakers of any language, are a challenge for those learning a foreign language.
Fortunately, the knowledge of such “idioms” is essential only on very few sentence correction questions. You can usually reason your way to the answer by applying logic and GMAT grammar rules. And let’s be thankful for that. It’s impossible to ever learn all the idioms in the English language; still, knowing such idioms can be useful. If you spot an incorrect idiom in an answer choice, you can eliminate it immediately and the question will take less time. Therefore, do learn the idioms that are frequently tested on the GMAT.
You may or may not know the exact idiom that a sentence uses, but you can always check whether the comparison makes logical sense. In fact, on GMAT Sentence Correction, that’s the first thing to do for sentences with comparisons.
Whenever the sentence contains a comparison, ask what is being compared to what. Illogical comparison, such as comparing apples to oranges, is a common error on Sentence Correction questions.
Look at these sentences:
Did you spot the faulty comparisons? We cannot compare the act of driving with the metro (train system). The comparison does not make sense. Similarly, we cannot compare the population (a number) with a country (a place).
On the other hand, these comparisons are logical
A related problem is that of incomplete, ambiguous comparisons
Better than what? As good as what? On GMAT sentence correction, such ambiguity is not acceptable.
In addition to making logical sense, comparisons must also be parallel.
Parallel: Driving to work is not as convenient as taking the metro. ✓
Not Parallel: Driving to work is not as convenient as taking the metro. ✗
Parallel: Delhi’s population is more than Australia’s [population]. ✓
Not Parallel: Delhi’s population is more than the population of Australia. ✗
Parallel: What you actually do is a better indication of your true motives than what you say. ✓
Parallel: Your actions are a better indication of your true motives than your words [are]. ✓
Not Parallel: What you actually do is a better indication of your true motives than your words. ✗
The GMAT Essay, better known as GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), is an essential part of the GMAT exam. In the default section order, the AWA is the first thing you’ll see on your test. In the other order selections, AWA is the last section. Ever since GMAC has come up with the option that allows you to select your section order, most of the students don’t choose the default order.
The AWA has a score ranging from 0 to 6 and has a time limit of 30 minutes. There is no word limit, but given the time restriction, we recommend you wrap up your essay within 350 to 500 words. This can be done efficiently if you give your essay a clear structure.
For the AWA task, you are provided with an argument (often called the argument prompt) and the task is to evaluate it. In the thirty minutes provided, a test-taker needs to break down the argument, identify the flaws in it, and suggest ways to improve it by filling the gaps in the argument prompt.
The task remains to be the same irrespective of the argument prompt.
The introduction, for many reasons, is a significant part of your essay. If you manage to write an effective and articulate introduction, you can ace the rest of the essay smoothly. An introduction should be such that it clearly spells out the conclusion and premise in the argument. The last sentence of your introductory paragraph should give the reader an idea that this argument is flawed and you’re going to discuss these flaws in the subsequent body paragraphs.
No doubt, the introduction is an important part of the essay, but the introduction alone cannot fetch you a good score (meaning 4.5 or more). In order to get a good score on the AWA, in your body paragraphs you must point out the most damaging flaws in the argument. Also, the essay must have an effective ending reiterating your thesis.
Reading Comprehension (RC) passages on the GMAT can be very intimidating. You may often feel that the longer RC passages are tougher to solve than the shorter ones. You may also tend to believe that you are more adept at solving short RCs on the GMAT although it may not be so.
While attempting short RC passages you must not take it easy as in shorter RCs often there is loads of information compacted in one paragraph rather than detailed in several paragraphs. You may later realize that the shorter RCs are more complicated than the longer ones as the texts in the shorter ones are not clearly demarcated and you may often need to read thoroughly to find the answers to the questions.
Here are a few ways to tackle short RCs on the GMAT:
As the information in a short RC is often shrunk to a single paragraph, you need to understand the flow of the information. You should not just read for information but also take notes. The relevance of the information in context will enable you to get the main idea of the passage. Important details put down on the note board will help you stay focused.
If you pay attention to transition words, you will get an idea of what to expect next. Words such as ‘but’, ‘although’, and ‘however’ will enable you to understand and grasp the flow of information better. These signpost words play a very pivotal role in comprehending the passages.
You need to understand the importance of the text one sentence at a time – whether the information is a claim, an opinion, a conclusion, or a piece of evidence. If you do so, you will be better equipped to answer specific as well as general questions on the RC.
To sum it up, you must learn to read actively while attempting GMAT RCs. The answer will always be in the passage, so you only need to find the answer from the passage. If you go through the passages properly and understand the structure of the passages — both long and short — answering the questions will be easier.
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