Articles tagged "GMAT"

GMAT Sentence Correction Tests Good Grammar, Not Good Writing

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Sentence Correction Tests Good Grammar Not Good Writing by Chelsey CooleyDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


There’s a type of sentence known among linguists and grammar mavens as a “garden path” sentence. These sentences earned this name by leading readers “down the garden path” — you think the sentence is going in one direction, but halfway through, you suddenly realize that it’s saying something else entirely. Here’s the classic example:

The horse raced past the barn fell.

Believe it or not, this sentence is grammatically correct. The core of the sentence is The horse fell. “Raced past the barn” is just a modifier describing the horse. The sentence is equivalent to this one:

The horse that was raced past the barn fell. 

The second sentence is written much more clearly. The phrase “that was” makes it obvious that a modifier is about to start, so you don’t expect raced to be the main verb of the sentence. Yet grammatically, they’re both technically fine. It’s okay to start modifiers with that was, but it’s also okay to start modifiers with just a past participle, like in these examples.

The man trampled by the horse has made a full recovery.

                The mural created last year won several awards.

In English grammar, it’s often okay to leave out the that was or who was. Doing so sometimes leads to a poorly written or difficult to read sentence, which is why writers are cautious about it. But the GMAT tests grammar and logic, not clear writing. The right answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions will sometimes phrase things in awkward-sounding or unclear ways.

Another example is the infamous appositive. Here’s a grammatically correct sentence from the GMAC’s GMATPrep software:

Architects and stonemasons, the Maya built huge palace and temple clusters without the benefit of animal transport or the wheel.

The phrase “architects and stonemasons” at the beginning of the sentence throws many readers off. It seems as if two nouns have been stuck onto the front of the sentence with no attention to how they fit in. This type of modifier — in which a noun, set off by commas, can modify another noun — sounds awkward to many readers. We almost never use appositives in speech, and many writers rarely use them. However, they’re acceptable in formal English grammar, and they’re acceptable on the GMAT.

In his recent self-help book, the author and diet guru proposed a revolutionary new way of losing weight, a method that allowed dieters to eat dessert after every meal and do only minimal exercise.

The phrase beginning with “a method” is also an appositive. Making matters worse, the appositive contains yet another modifier inside of it: that allowed… modifies method. Yet the sentence is still grammatically correct! You don’t need to memorize the technical details of this type of modifier, but you should remember that even if they sound strange, that’s just because they’re rare. They’re grammatically correct and okay on a GMAT Sentence Corrrection problem.

I’ll leave you with one last bizarre sentence. You might think that it’s never possible to have two verbs right next to each other! But this sentence would be correct on the GMAT:

The threat of dehydration that desert reptiles, such as the northern blue-tongued skink and the red diamond rattlesnake, face results from the dry and hot environment.

This sentence sounds strange because of the two verbs, face and results, that appear immediately next to each other. It’s also difficult to read because these two verbs can both also be used as nouns! However, structurally and grammatically, the sentence is correct. It actually has two modifiers nested inside of each other. The core is The threat of dehydration results from the dry and hot environment. The next phrase, that desert reptiles face, modifies threat of dehydration. And finally, such as the northern blue-tongued skink and the red diamond rattlesnake modifies reptiles.

The threat of dehydration that desert reptiles, such as the northern blue-tongued skink and the red diamond rattlesnake, face results from the dry and hot environment.

That’s a hideous sentence — but it’s not wrong. And what can you do about this? Here are three major ideas to use as you practice Sentence Correction:

  1. Learn the grammatical constructions that tend to sound wrong to you, so that when you see them on the test, you’ll know not to eliminate them by accident.
  2. It’s okay to use your ear, but use grammar first. GMAT Sentence Correction tests grammatical and logical rules, not writing style. Your ear might not know the difference between wrong grammar and just plain lousy writing.
  3. Don’t ever eliminate an answer choice just because it seems poorly written — unless it’s totally incomprehensible, or you can’t find any more grammatical or logical issues to work with.

To learn all things Sentence Correction, check out our Sentence Correction Strategy Guide. 📝


Want full access to Chelsey’s sage GMAT wisdom? Try the first class of one of her upcoming GMAT courses for absolutely free, no strings attached. 


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GMAT Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.

Your Dream MBA: 5 Steps to Getting In – Free Webinar Series featuring Columbia and Yale

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Manhattan Prep mbaMission Your Dream MBA: 5 Steps to Getting in Webinar Series 2016Manhattan Prep is teaming up with mbaMission to cover every base in helping you prepare for the 2016–2017 MBA admissions season. Join us for a free, five-part webinar series, Your Dream MBA: 5 Steps to Getting In. Get expert advice from our test prep masters on how to approach your prep in order to maximize your score, learn all the nuances of MBA applications and admissions from mbaMission’s Senior Consultants, and participate in a Q&A session with admissions officers from Columbia, Yale, and other top B-Schools. Read more

Decoding Divisibility and Primes on the GMAT – Part 2

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Decoding Divisibility and Primes on the GMAT Part 2Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Welcome to the 2nd installment of our dive into Number Properties. If you haven’t yet tried the first problem, start with the first article in the series.

Let’s dive right into our second problem from the GMATPrep® free exams: Read more

Two Minutes of GMAT Quant: A Breakdown – Part 2

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Here's How to Use Your Two Minutes on GMAT Quant Part 2Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


If you read the first post in this series, then you already know how to get the most you can out of the first 5 seconds of a GMAT Quant problem. But what about the other 1:55? Let’s continue to delve. Read more

GMATPrep® Reading Comprehension: Tackling a Tough GMAT Passage (part 1)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMATPrep Reading Comprehension: Tackling a Tough Passage (Part 1)Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Halfway through a GMATPrep® free practice test, I hit the passage I’m going to discuss in this series—and I groaned aloud the second it appeared on the screen.

Why? Here’s what I saw (without really reading much of anything!): Read more

The Top 6 GMAT Quant Mistakes That You Don’t know You’re Making

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blog-quantDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Sometimes, as you solve a GMAT Problem Solving problem, everything seems to go smoothly. You get an answer that matches one of the choices perfectly, so you select it and move on to the next problem. But much later, when you’re reviewing the problem, you realize that you picked the wrong answer entirely. Why does this happen, and how can you stop it?

Read more

Decoding Divisibility and Primes on the GMAT – Part 1

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blog-decoding-pt1Most of my students are driven crazy by GMAT Number Properties. On the face of it, the topic seems straightforward: I know what positive and negative, odd and even are. Divisibility stuff is a little more complicated, but come on: this was taught in school when we were 10! How hard can it be? Read more

Here’s Why You May Be Misinterpreting Your GMAT Score

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blog-gmatscoreHere’s a scenario that might seem familiar to many of you: you take your first GMAT practice test, then you see the score. Ouch! Probably lower than you were hoping for, right? Read more

Two Minutes of GMAT Quant: A Breakdown – Part 1

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blog-minutes-pt1Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Two minutes is not a huge amount of time. Yet if you want to finish the entire GMAT Quant section in 75 minutes, two minutes is about all you have to solve each problem. Don’t interpret that to mean you just have to go quickly or skip important steps like checking your work. Instead, seek out a more efficient process for dealing with GMAT problems.

Better yet, read along as I detail an efficient process for dealing with your two minutes. Read more

GMAT Sentence Correction: What can the underline tell you?

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blog-underlineI ran across the GMAT problem below when I was reviewing a GMATPrep® test that I took a while back, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to share it with you. There are some really intriguing aspects to this one. Read more