GMAT Tip: Sentence Correction Strategy

The GMAT Tip of the Week is a weekly column that includes advice on taking the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), 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 Brian Galvin, director of academic programs at Veritas Prep.

A common mistake that GMAT students make on sentence correction problems is to look for the perfect answer. A much more effective approach is to ask the question, “Which of these answer choices is better?” and to ask this question repeatedly until only one answer choice is left standing.

Think about how your eye doctor zeroes in on the prescription that is best for you. The doctor does not lay a bunch of lenses in front of you and tell you to pick the best prescription for yourself. You never would get anywhere. Instead, she presents you with a series of choices: “Which is better? No. 1 or No. 2?” and then, “No. 2 or No. 3?” and so on. This is how you should approach sentence correction problems on the GMAT. If you try to make more than one choice at a time, then you’re trying to do too much.

This approach not only helps you efficiently tackle each question, but it also helps you with your overall stamina on test day. Toward the end of the GMAT, your mind has already made hundreds of calculations and decisions. Just as the eye doctor knows that it will be difficult for you to differentiate the most recent lens from the first lens, which you saw 10 lenses ago, you should recognize that you’ll likely struggle to make multiple concurrent decisions within a sentence that is designed to be extra verbose and descriptive. Making one definitive decision at a time is an efficient way to manage your time, energy, and focus on these problems.

Break it down and keep it simple on sentence correction problems. Think in terms of “What’s better?” not in terms of hunting for perfection.

Brian Galvin is the director of Academic Programs for Veritas Prep. Not many people can say they have earned a 99th percentile score on the GMAT and have completed an Ironman race, but Galvin can. Since joining Veritas Prep as director of academic programs in 2006, he has devoted himself to developing new and better ways to help students master the GMAT. Galvin earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in education from the University of Michigan.

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