GMAT Test Tips from Veritas Prep

GMAT Tip: Why Grammar Isn't Enough on Sentence Correction Questions


GMAT Tip: Why Grammar Isn't Enough on Sentence Correction Questions

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This tip on improving your GMAT score was provided by Vivian Kerr at Veritas Prep.

With so much talk about how important “meaning” is on the GMAT, you can still get most Sentence Correction questions correct with a solid grasp of the tested grammar concepts, but occasionally you might see a question for which more than one answer choice seems grammatically correct. What to do? Take this problem from The Official Guide for GMAT Review (note: Your job is to select the answer choice that properly expresses the underlined portion of the sentence prompt):

In 1527 King Henry VIII sought to have his marriage to Queen Catherine annulled so as to marry Anne Boleyn.

(A) so as to marry

(B) and so could be married to

(C) to be married to

(D) so that he could marry

(E) in order that he would marry

So what is the “sense” here?  The main idea here is that Henry sought something in the first half of the sentence, and then the second half explains why. He sought annulment, in order to marry Anne. The sentence is an explanation. Looking at the answer choices, we ask: Which of these mean Henry took an action in order to get a result? The correct answer is (D). Answer choice (E) might be tempting, but notice how the use of “would” changes the meaning. His marrying of Anne doesn’t seem to be a question of will power, but rather clearing obstacles so that he “could.” One more from Veritas Prep:

In his book, “Earth in the Balance,” former vice-president Al Gore describes a Global Marshall Plan, one that must focus on strategic goals and emphasize actions and programs that are likely to remove the bottlenecks presently inhibiting the healthy functioning of the global economy in order to foster an inclusive system that does not leave entire regions behind.

(A) Plan, one that must focus on strategic goals and emphasize actions and programs that are likely to remove the bottlenecks presently inhibiting the healthy functioning of the global economy in order to foster an inclusive system that does not leave entire regions behind.

(B) Plan as one that must focus on strategic goals, emphasize actions and programs, remove the bottlenecks presently inhibiting the healthy functioning of the global economy, and foster an inclusive system that does not leave entire regions behind.

(C) Plan; in order to foster an inclusive system that does not leave entire regions behind, the Plan must focus on strategic goals and emphasis on actions and programs that are likely to remove the bottlenecks presently inhibiting the healthy function of the global economy.

(D) Plan; in order to foster an inclusive system that does not leave entire regions behind, it must focus on strategic goals, emphasizing actions and programs, and remove the bottlenecks presently inhibiting the healthy function of the global economy.

(E) Plan as one that must focus on strategic goals and emphasize actions and programs in the removal of bottlenecks inhibiting the healthy functioning of the global economy in order to foster, at present, an inclusive system, which does not leave entire regions behind.

Here, the correct answer is (A). This sentence is incredibly wordy, but unlike the other options, contains no grammatical errors or confused meanings. In answer choice (B), what are these actions and programs for? This is described in the third clause, which should be used to modify the second clause and not be given equal weight. Note also the odd meaning of (E): “at present” here indicates the fostering is taking place in the present, rather than the inhibiting.

Remember, we can take comfort in the fact that the correct choice on an Sentence Correction problem will not only be grammatically correct, but will also be logically correct, 100 percent of the time.

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