Flip Sentence Correction Upside Down And Watch Your Score Go Up!

by on December 23rd, 2012

For many GMAT test-takers, one of the most challenging tasks on the exam is that of weeding through the clutter on Sentence Correction questions to arrive at an actionable decision point.  Many Sentence Correction questions involve a lot of dense language and not-altogether-enjoyable subject matter, and as a result students spend a lot of time spinning their wheels trying to even get going.

To train yourself to cut through this problem, try this drill:

Flip your book upside down and try to solve five questions that way.

Now, keep in mind that this shouldn’t be the only way you study Sentence Correction, but many students have found it helpful to do a couple sets of 5-10 questions at a time this way. Why?

Having to read questions upside down will help you train your mind to search actively for known binary decision points – pronouns, modifiers, verbs – because you won’t be able to readily read for some of the smaller nuances of grammar and you won’t likely be able to get lost in the verbiage of the sentence. This drill can help you better appreciate  the quickly identifiable clues that signal the key to the sentence. Reading upside down makes you focus on pronouns, differences in verbs (either singular/plural or different tenses), the words before and after a comma that might lead to a modifier error, or the appearance of a semicolon.

And your goal on this test is efficiency – the seek-and-destroy method of Sentence Correction, seeking out the most common errors and eliminating them before you ever consider idiomatic usage or delve too deeply into subject matter, is not only more effective in arriving at correct answers, but also much more time-efficient since once you have eliminated an answer choice it’s gone and you don’t have to read or consider it again. Many high-performing test-takers can answer several questions in a row and not really even know what they are  about, primarily because they’ve trained themselves to identify and eliminate those quick-to-spot errors.

So try this as a drill to bring your accuracy up and time down – try a few questions reading upside down and force yourself to look for those main structural clues.

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7 comments

  • I didn't understand how to read a question upside down ? Does it mean to read the question from last to first? Pelase answer my question as soon as possible. thank you

    • The author means to literally turn your text (paper, book, iPad/Kindle, etc...) upside down and read the text in the order you normally would.  Your brain has to slow down to process the words and can pick up on errors more quickly.  Hope that helps.

    • Thanks, Heath - that's exactly it...it's just a drill, but the idea is that you have to actively search for and notice primary decision points that way because you can't read everything. If you can learn to embrace the most common keywords that signal errors - pronouns, verbs, words that indicate time - you'll be that much more efficient when you see questions right-side-up.

  • Hi, tried to read upside down, my eyes are running everywhere, are you sure it works? cant concentrate...

    • If it's giving you vertigo or driving you crazy after a half-hour, don't do it. It's just a drill, with the intent that you really can't read it completely upside-down, so it forces you to actively look for key decision points and not get bogged down in long modifiers or descriptions. It's been helpful for a lot of students, so if you try it and it clicks with you I definitely recommend it as a 30-minute drill a couple times, but like most things it may not be for everyone.

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  • give us an example of this. we do not understand the article

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