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# GMAT Tip: Sentence-Correction Secrets

Photograph by Dimitri Vervitsiotis

The GMAT Tip of the Week is a weekly column that includes advice on taking the Graduate Management Admission Test, which is required for admission to most business schools. Every week an instructor from a top test-prep company will share suggestions for improving your GMAT score. This week’s tip comes from Mike McGarry, lead GMAT content creator at Magoosh.

On GMAT sentence-correction questions, you are supposed to read the prompt sentence carefully, and then read each of the five answer choices carefully, right? Wrong! You may make that mistake if you are new to the question, but that is a huge time-sink. First, never read answer choice (A), because it’s always identical to the underlined text of the prompt. More generally, after you read the initial sentence, your task is not so much to read as to identify splits. To demonstrate, I will do a “case study” solution of a particularly challenging GMAT-like sentence-correction question.

Inverse beta decay, the subatomic interaction by which an electron and a proton are “crushed” into a neutron, the process in which the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, pushes out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and transforming the stellar nucleus into a neutron star.

(A) the process in which the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, pushes out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and transforming

(B) the process where the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, are pushing out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and transforms

(C) the process in which the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, pushes out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and are transforming

(D) is the process in which the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, pushes out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and transforms

(E) is the process where the energy released, on a massive scale of an entire stellar nucleus, pushing out the outer layers of the star in the cataclysmic explosion of a supernova and transforms

That is exactly how the question will appear on the GMAT, confusing technical language and all. Now this is what someone highly adept in approaching GMAT sentence correction problems sees in these answer choices:

(A) the…in which…pushes…transforming

(B) the…where…are pushing…transforms

(C) the…in which…pushes…are transforming

(D) is the…in which…pushes…transforms

(E) is the…where…are pushing…transforms

Notice we have eliminated everything that is identical among the five answer choices and focused only on what makes them different. The differences among the answer choices are the “splits.” This question presents us with three splits: (1) “the” vs. “is the;” (2) “in which” vs. “where;” and (3) “pushes/are pushing” vs. “transforming/transforms/are transforming.”

First, we need a verb for the main clause—everything following “which” is part of the modifier—so we need “is the” not just “the.” Second, on the GMAT, the word “where” refers exclusively to physical locations, so “in which” is correct.

Finally, the two verbs pushing and transforming must be in parallel, either as verbs or as participles. The only answer that has the correct option on all three splits is (D)—the correct answer. This question lent itself particularly elegantly to this strategy, but you can always use it in some form.

If you are reading every answer choice, you are doing far too much work. Efficient GMAT sentence correction solutions involve following the splits and using them to quickly eliminate answer choices, thereby narrowing down to the correct answer without wasting any time.

Mike McGarry scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT. He is an expert in standardized test preparation, and has been a teacher for over 20 years. McGarry earned both a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in comparative religion from Harvard University.