Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog

Boring is Sometimes Best on GMAT Verbal

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Boring is Sometimes Best on GMAT Verbal 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 particular exercise I like to do with students who overthink Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning problems. (I initially got it from fellow instructor Ceilidh Erickson, who developed this exercise for her own GMAT classes.) It involves answering GMAT RC and CR problems without looking at the passage or the argument. With a little training, my students can often reach 50% accuracy or better! That might seem impossible — but keep reading to learn the secret. Read more

Two Minutes of GMAT Quant: A Breakdown (Part 3)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Two Minutes of GMAT Quant a Breakdown Part 3Did 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.


Ready for the long awaited conclusion of how to tackle a quant problem in two minutes? We’ll finally get to the point where you can submit an answer! If you haven’t been keeping up, catch up here. Read more

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.

Taking the new mini-GMAT for EMBA? Here’s how to prep! – Part 2

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Taking the New Mini-GMAT for EMBA Candidates? Here's How to Prep (Part 2) by Stacey KoprinceDid 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.


Last time, we talked about the IR and Verbal sections of the new Executive Assessment (EA) exam for EMBA candidates. Today, we’re going to dive into Quant and also talk more about your overall study. Read more

Think Like an Expert: How & When to Work Backwards on GMAT Problem Solving

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Working Backwards on GMAT Problem Solving by Ceilidh EricksonDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


What does it take to be a GMAT expert? It’s not just content knowledge (although of course that’s necessary). A GMAT expert knows how to quickly identify patterns and choose quickly from a variety of strategies. In each of these segments, I’ll show you one of these expert moves and how to use it. Read more

Taking the new mini-GMAT for EMBA? Here’s how to prep! – Part 1

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Taking the New Mini-GMAT for EMBA Candidates? Here's How to Prep (Part 1) by Stacey KoprinceDid 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.


The Executive Assessment exam was launched in March 2016 to provide a more streamlined version of the GMAT for EMBA candidates at certain schools. Follow that link for logistics.

I’ve spoken with multiple students who are planning to take the exam and they all have the same question: How should I prepare for this test? Read more

Two More Official Practice GMAT Exams Released!

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMAC Releases Two More Official GMAT Practice Exams! by Stacey KoprinceGMAC® has released two new official practice CATs for your studying pleasure. In addition to the 2 free tests and the 2 previously-released paid tests, this brings to 6 the total number of official practice GMATs you can take as you get ready for the real test.

The GMATPrep® Exam Pack 2 contains 2 full-length practice tests for $49.99 and, as with the Exam Pack 1 product, you’ll receive an enhanced score report providing you with your overall scores and some detailed performance data by question-type.

GMATPrep Exam Tips

We do recommend that you time yourself per question while taking the GMATPrep® exams. Almost everyone has at least minor timing issues in at least one of the sections, so this is useful data to gather. Grab your smartphone and disable the screen saver (or make it so long that it won’t go dark on you between questions).

Pull up a timer or stopwatch app and play with it until you figure out how the lap timing function works. The lap timer allows you run a timer continuously as you hit the lap button periodically. Every time you hit the lap button, the timer will record how long it has been since you last hit the lap button, but the timer won’t stop. It’ll continue running.

Every time you finish a problem and click Next and Confirm, train yourself to hit a third button: Lap. Your sequence is always Next-Confirm-Lap and on to the new problem. When you’re done, you’ll have your per-question timing data.

Read more

GMAT Grammar Biweekly: Noun Modifiers

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMAT Grammar Biweekly: Noun Modifiers by Emily MadanDid 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’ve been following these posts, you already have one kind of  noun modifier safely stashed away – opening modifiers. Let’s expand your repertoire using the same sentence: Read more

GMATPrep Reading Comp: Tackling a Tough Passage (part 2)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMATPrep® Reading Comprehension: Tackling a Tough GMAT Passage - Part 2 by Stacey KoprinceDid 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.


In the first installment of this series, we deconstructed a challenging Reading Comprehension passage from the GMATPrep® free exams. Pull up that page, as I’m not going to repeat the full text of the passage here.

I also gave you the first problem to try. Let’s talk about it now!

Here’s the problem again: Read more

Five Simple Tips for GMAT Word Problems

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Five Simple Tips for GMAT Word Problems 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.


This article won’t teach you how to solve GMAT word problems from scratch. (Check out our Word Problems Strategy Guide for that!) However, it will suggest five easy changes that’ll help you save time, earn points, and reduce stress. Make just a few small changes to how you solve word problems, and watch your Quant score improve. Read more