GMAT Sentence Correction questions represent about 40% percent of the questions on the verbal portion of the GMAT. That makes them the most common type of verbal question. Mastering Sentence Correction can go a long way toward getting a great score on the verbal section of the GMAT.

Good Writing (according to GMAC)

Practicing GMAT sentence correction

GMAT Sentence Correction involves finding an error (if there is one) in the original sentence and then finding the answer choice that fixes it. Let’s think like the creators of thet GMAT—the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)—for a moment.

GMAC views Sentence Correction questions as one component of assessing verbal reasoning ability. Sentence Correction questions aim to measure three broad categories of language proficiency:

  1. correct expression
  2. effective expression
  3. proper diction

Put another way, a well-formed sentence is grammatical, clear, and concise.

Intended Meaning vs. Grammatical Meaning

English, of course, has a multitude of grammatical rules—many of which the GMAT doesn’t routinely or ever test. In fact, it’s possible to argue that the GMAT doesn’t set out to test grammar rules at all. Rather, the GMAT sets out to test clarity of expression. The consequence is that certain grammatical rules, such as modifiers need to be in specific locations in a sentence, get used frequently in Sentence Correction examples. After all, when a modifier is misplaced, the intended meaning and the grammatical meaning of the sentence are at odds.

Consider this sentence:

Running down the street, a brick fell on my head.

The grammatical meaning is that a brick was running down the street. The intended meaning is that I was running down the street and as I was running a brick fell on my head. Ouch! When the reader is left to divine the intended meaning of the sentence, the meaning isn’t clear.

In many cases, GMAT sentences are written so that the grammatical meaning and the intended meaning are out of sync. Correct answers to many GMAT Sentence Correction questions pull the intended and grammatical meanings of the sentence into sync. Most of the grammar rules that are routinely broken in GMAT Sentence Correction questions are the rules that, when broken, leave the reader to guess at the intended meaning of the sentence.

GMAT Sentence Correction Tips

1. Learn common GMAT idioms.

A good command of idioms is a great way to eliminate answer choices. In some cases, knowing the correct form of an idiom can get you down to two answer choices. We've got a list of commonly tested idioms in our Cracking the GMAT prep book.

2. Watch for Parallel Construction Errors

Parallelism is an important way to analyze GMAT sentences. But, you need to be careful about what needs to be paralleled in the sentence. 

3. Eliminate Answer Choices

Many examples had answers that obviously repeated the error. So, once you’ve identified an error, take a look at the answer choices to see whether there are any other answers that repeat that same error.

4. Word Order Matters

Some examples played with how the placement of phrases in a sentence affects the meaning of the sentence. In some cases, shifting even one word around can create a disjunction between the intended and grammatical meanings of the sentence. 

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