Analyzing GMAT Sentence Correction

by on December 2nd, 2017

1If you hit the road over the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., you joined millions of other Americans who traveled more than 50 miles to get to their feast of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. And more likely than not, you probably sat in traffic for some portion of that journey and enlisted the help of at least one travel app to try and find another less-congested route. The moment of truth comes when you have to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on the seemingly longer and more circuitous route or stick with your original plan of schlepping north on I-95 while staring at brake lights.

The GMAT presents many of these decision points especially in Sentence Correction where you can potentially bank some additional time if you’re working expeditiously. The key to making the right decision (and not ending up in GMAT purgatory … or Newark if you’re still schlepping up I-95) is recognizing the rules of grammar that apply.

1. Don’t accept the status quo.

Just because you read the sentence, and it sounds right (or close enough to right) doesn’t mean you can skip answer choices B-E. By definition, Sentence Correction is asking you to pick the answer choice that is “most effective … without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.”

2. Is that really a shortcut?

Read the whole sentence. Some sentences like the one below from will appear simple due to the shorter underlined portion, but it’s important to identify your subject and verb, any relevant markers (commas or other punctuation), modifiers and clauses. Also, note the use of parallel structure. Once you recognize that “cost” needs to agree with “are prohibitive,” you can eliminate A and D. To maintain the parallel structure created by the introduction of prepositional phrases, you need to keep “with” thus making answer choice B the only logical and correct option.

While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.

(A) cost associated with

(B) costs associated with

(C) costs arising from

(D) cost of

(E) costs of

While the above example is much simpler in structure than many other Sentence Correction questions you might see, it’s still important to analyze the whole sentence. If you just looked at “costs …are prohibitive,” answer choices B, C and E still make sense. The only difference is in the prepositions, and until you find the other prepositional phrase “with the development … ” it’s not obvious which preposition should be leveraged.

So as you evaluate your travel options—do I take the route that has no “red” congestion, but maxes out at 40 mph or stick with the interstate and hope for service station with a 24 hour Starbucks to make the drive more enjoyable—remember that the seemingly easier path isn’t always the best option. It’s important to evaluate all routes and answer choices. The extra time on the front end will save you more on the back end and get you closer to that target score.


The above GMAT Tip comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry.

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