Knewton GMAT Prep

GMAT Sentence Correction

The Sentence Correction portion of the GMAT is nothing more than choosing the best version of a sentence, between 14 and 16 times. On each question, there is a very concrete reason for eliminating four of the five answer choices. Choosing one option over another when both sentences seem error-free also comes down to learning what makes one sentence better than another. If you ready to test your knowledge try some sample Sentence Correction questions here.

For those of you who read a lot and have a good grasp of grammar, relying on your intuition will get you through most questions. Learning the concrete, “math-like” way that a seemingly alright sentence violates GMAT a grammar guideline will get you through those tougher questions. Famous authors often violate GMAT grammar guidelines, and it’s important to learn what the GMAT specifically deems wrong.

For those of you who are not so confident in your grammar skills, non-native speakers and math whizzes alike, take a deep breath. Luckily, the Sentence Correction portion is actually quite math-like. There are specific words and phrases that you can use to eliminate options, and you can learn how each piece of a sentence must fit together in order to form a “correct” sentence. Though the English language is full of nuances and exceptions, a GMAT sentence is either right or wrong, no two ways about it!

To ace the SC section, learn how to identify the 9 errors most commonly tested on the GMAT: sentence structure errors, subject-verb agreement errors, modifier errors, verb tense errors, pronoun errors, parallelism errors, comparison errors, idiomatic errors, and style errors. You can train yourself to notice the “clues” that the GMAT is testing a certain error. Sometimes, especially when there is not a lot underlined, it’s easier to spot an error by noting the differences between answer choices.

Sentence Correction Tips
  • Do answer choices use different prepositions? Check for idiomatic errors.
  • See the word, “which,” in an answer choice? When “which” introduces a clause (called an adjective clause), make sure that the clause introduced by “which” IMMEDIATELY follows the noun idea it modifies. Just as an adjective must describe a noun, so an adjective clause must describe a noun. If the clause introduced by “which” describes an abstract idea and not a specific noun, you’ve found a modifier error.
  • If a sentence is about some sort of numerical quantity (ex. “the percentage of homeowners in Minneapolis” or “the number of women studying French”) check for idiomatic errors (remember: “fewer” describes a countable quantity, like people; “less” describes an uncountable quantity, like sugar). Also check for redundancy (ex. “went up by a 20% increase”).
  • The words “as,” “than,” and “like” should send you looking for comparison errors. Make sure that the items compared make sense.
  • If an option is wordy or awkward, do not immediately eliminate it unless you find a concrete error. Hold on to the choice unless you find another choice that also contains no errors. Compare the two constructions, and if you still cannot find an error in either construction, choose the less wordy, less awkward, and/or more active construction.
  • Don’t forget about the logic of the sentence. When down to those last two options, plug each one back into the sentence and see which one makes more sense. Check for clear and logical modification.
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