4 techniques to ace gmat sentence correction questions
Posted on
Apr 2021

4 Techniques to Ace GMAT Sentence Correction Questions

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Andrej Ivanovski
Date: 29th April 2021

The GMAT Sentence Correction questions are one of the three question formats that comprise the Verbal section, with the other two being Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. Test takers should expect to come across anything between 11 and 16 sentence correction questions on the exam. Each GMAT Sentence Correction question contains a part that is underlined, and you will be prompted to identify the mistake in the sentence and replace it with one of the five options provided. Even though this might sound like a piece of cake at first glanceglimpse, there is a catch. The reason that most GMAT test takers find the Sentence Correction questions challenging is the fact that the sentences provided are usually several lines long and the grammatical mistakes are not very apparent. If you follow these 4 GMAT Sentence Correction techniques you will find it a lot easier to spot the mistakes and ace the GMAT Sentence Correction questions.

Get rid of the extra information

The GMAC intentionally makes the GMAT Sentence Correction problems long by including a lot of fluff and descriptive information which very often covers up the error and makes it very difficult to spot. Therefore, getting rid of that extra information would not only make the sentence shorter and simpler, but it would also make it easier for you to uncover the mistake. But, how do you know which part of the sentence to get rid of?

  • Look for parts of the sentence set off by commas. Oftentimes, the part that is set off the comma only serves to better explain or give more details about the subject, and when removed it would not affect the meaning of the sentence. Here’s what extra information looks like in a sentence (note that there are no mistakes in the given example):

Maria, Stephen’s youngest and most talented daughter, moved to Sweden. 

Maria, Stephen’s youngest and most talented daughter, moved to Sweden. 

In the sentence above, the part set off by commas is not necessary to convey the meaning of the sentence. So, even if you get rid of that part, you would still be left with a complete sentence. However, one caveat to keep in mind is that the extra information does not necessarily have to be separated by two commas, as it can come at the beginning or the end of the sentence (a modifier), in which case it would only be set off with a single comma.

  • Look for adjectives and adverbial phrases. These could be a little more challenging to find, as they are not set off by commas and one needs to understand the meaning of the sentence in order to identify them.

A group of young men coming from Dubai held a conference in New York.

The sentence above can exist without the two underlined parts: of young men and coming from Dubai. Even though they make the sentence more descriptive, they do not convey the main meaning of the sentence, and can therefore be taken out of the sentence for the sake of simplicity and spotting the mistake more easily.

Pay attention to the meaning

We have already established that grammar is vital if you want to do well on the GMAT Sentence Correction problems. Is grammar necessary? Absolutely! Is grammar everything that you need? Definitely not! No matter how good you are at grammar, solely relying on it is guaranteed to get you stuck at one point or another.

It is often the case that GMAT Sentence Correction problems are free of grammatical errors, but contain logical ones. GMAT test-makers are actually hoping that test-takers will only rely upon grammar and would not pay attention to less formal errors, so if you want to do well on this type of question you absolutely need to pay attention to the meaning of the sentence.

In order to do so, you first need to read the sentence carefully and try to understand the meaning behind it. Oftentimes, it might seem that the sentence is perfectly correct and free of grammar mistakes, and you would not be able to find a logical gap or an inconsistency. In that case, you will want to look through the answers provided and try to assess the message that they are trying to convey. When doing that, you might get an idea of what could be wrong with the original sentence and in that way find the correct one.

Use “splits”

Another strategy which includes using the answer choices in order to successfully answer the GMAT Sentence Correction problems is the so-called “splits” strategy. This strategy involves trying to find similarities and dissimilarities, or any kind of patterns in the answer choices. In order to explain this strategy, we will use a GMAT Sentence Correction problem from the GMAT Official Guide.

The overall slackening of growth in productivity is influenced less by government regulation, although that is significant for specific industries like mining, than the coming to an end of a period of rapid growth in agricultural productivity.

  • the coming to an end of
  • the ending of
  • by the coming to an end of
  • by ending
  • by the end of

In a question like this, the mistake might not be apparent at first. Therefore, in order to get an idea of what the mistake could be, we will have a look at the answer choices. In there, we can see two patterns: C, D and E all contain “by”, whereas A and B do not. If we look at the sentence, we can see that the first part of it says “is influenced less by”, which implies that the second part of the questions has to begin with “…than by”. Therefore, the split AB, and we continue looking for the answer in the CDE split. If we try to plug each of these three answers into the sentence, we can see that E is the only one that is grammatically correct and therefore we get E as an answer.

The “splits” technique is especially useful in helping you narrow down the choices and find the right answer more easily.

Learn the most common GMAT idioms

In order to do well on the Sentence Correction GMAT questions, you need to have a good command of idioms. If you have already started preparing you might have come across a GMAT idiom list in the prep materials. So, you might be wondering why it is important to learn them and how they will be tested on the GMAT.

First, let us begin by explaining what an idiom is. Chances are, if you are not a “grammar freak” you might not be sure what the exact meaning of an idiom is. An idiom is a common expression or a grammatical structure in a given language, in this case – English. Oftentimes, the term idiom is used to describe a saying such as “let the cat out of the bag” or “a piece of cake”. Even though these are important to know if you want to sound more fluent and natural in English, they are not tested on the GMAT. In the context of the GMAT, an idiom is a formation of two or more words that are often used together, such as “invest in” or “indicate that”.

So, now that we have gotten the definition out of the way, you might be wondering why it is important to learn some of the most common GMAT idioms, and how they will be tested. In the GMAT Sentence Correction problems, oftentimes you will come across an incorrectly used idiom. The mistake can take several different forms. 

  • Preposition

Take, for instance, the expression invest on. Here, the preposition used is on when in fact it should be in. Even though it could be apparent in this case, on the GMAT the mistake can often be subtle and a little more difficult to spot. 

  • Word choice 

This is also a common mistake, especially when it comes to words that are close in meaning. Examples of such words are among/between, fewer/less, whether/if, like/as, and so on.

  • Correlatives

Correlatives are words that are used together to serve a single function in a sentence. Some examples include both/and, either/or and neither/nor. A mistake in correlative pairs is also common, especially when it comes to longer and more complex sentences, as these mistakes could be more difficult to spot in those cases.


Here’s a summary of all of the techniques that we discussed here:

gmat sentence correction

These techniques are not mutually exclusive and they can be used in combination with one another. Applying them and putting them into practice can save you a whole lot of work and help you do better on the GMAT Sentence Correction problems. And if you feel like you could use some more guidance, please make sure to check out our highly personalized one-on-one GMAT tutoring. Our tutoring sessions are delivered by 770+ scoring tutors and are available both online and in-person, no matter where in the world you are.

Read more
Posted on
Sep 2020

How to Prepare for the GMAT: The Verbal Section

How To GMAT: The Verbal Section

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GMAT exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the verbal section. Effective test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GMAT verbal section. 

What is The Verbal Section and What Does It Test For?

The verbal section primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. 

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 49 seconds per question.

How Is it scored

The verbal section, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 60. A 51 is considered a perfect score on both sections. 

The GMAT also ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GMAT scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years. 

Although the scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Business schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Language on the Verbal Section

The language in the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than intermediate, everyday English. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy. 

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times. 

Critical Reasoning

The critical reasoning subsection consists of a brief text outlining an argument (usually less than 100 words) and five answer choices. Critical reasoning questions measure the test taker’s ability to formulate and evaluate arguments. To answer correctly, consider the argument’s logical structure. Each answer choice might strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, or explain the argument’s flaws.   

Although the best tip for critical reasoning questions is to read carefully and watch out for tricky wording, it will help to keep the following questions in mind:

  1. How is the argument structured?
  2. What’s the conclusion?
  3. What evidence supports the conclusion?
  4. Which assumptions link the evidence to the conclusion?

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them. 

In this subsection, you’ll find passages of text followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others  refer to business-related fields. 

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

  1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
  2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
  3. Ask yourself: 
    • What’s the main argument?
    • What does the author state explicitly?  What is implied?
    • How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point. 

Sentence Correction

The sentence correction portion tests a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication isn’t just grammatically correct–it’s clear, direct, and concise. 

In this portion, you’ll find five different versions of the same sentence. The goal is to choose the version that’s grammatically correct and expresses the idea with precision and clarity. Choose wisely!


Taking the quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leave plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section. 

For additional tips related to the verbal section of the GMAT read: How to boost your verbal score next.


Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: 29th September 2020


Read more