Of the 41 questions on the Verbal section of the GMAT® approximately 15 will be Sentence Correction questions. Of these 15 questions around 7 questions will clearly have options that display a 3/2 split. This split is one of the fastest ways to solve SC questions under 1:49, which is average the time available per question on the GMAT®.
Let us look at the example below to understand what we mean by a 3/2 split.
Some psychiatric studies indicate that among distinguished artists the rates of manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times as prevalent as in the population at large.
(A) the rates of manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times as prevalent as in
(B) the rates of manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times more prevalent than in
(C) the rates of manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times more prevalent when compared to
(D) manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times as prevalent when compared to
(E) manic depression and major depression are ten to thirteen times more prevalent than in
If you look at the 5 options of this GMAT® question, 3 of them start with “the rates of manic depression and..” and 2 options start with “manic depression and..”
In 9 out of 10 cases, between these two types of options, only 1 will be correct. So by deciding which one of the two is the correct beginning, you will straightaway be eliminating 3 or 2 options.
The clue to choosing between 3/2 can lie either in the underlined part or in the non-underlined part (that precedes or succeeds the underlined part).
In this particular case the clue lies in the underlined part — ten to thirteen times as prevalent. ‘Prevalent’ means ‘widespread’; now will the ‘rate of depression’ be widespread or ‘depression’ be widespread?
Obviously the ‘rate of a disease’ cannot be widespread, it has to be the disease (to better understand it let us look at a similar sentence, Cancer is now more widespread… or The rate of cancer is now more widespread…) So straightaway we can eliminate options A, B and C.
Between D and E, D is incorrect since “as prevalent” has to be followed by an “as” for the comparison to be made. On the GMAT, test-setters introduce long phrases after the first “as” to examine to divert the test-taker from the structure that has to be followed – as X Y Z A B C as.
Once you have eliminated four options correctly, the last option standing, as it is always case on the GMAT, has to be always right answer! Hence (E).
By identifying the 3/2 spilt solving this is relatively long SC question gets reduced to making just 2 choices: first between the 3/2 spilt and then between D and E.
In this sentence the 3/2 split was easy to spot since it was right at the beginning of each option. But it might not be so obvious in other cases. In the next post we will look at a few tricky variations of the 3/2 split as well as ways of choosing between them.
All questions discussed on this blog are taken from the GMAT® Official Guides or the GMAT® Prep Software.