One of the frequent things that test-takers keep telling us is that despite memorizing all the rules, they are unable to move beyond a particular level of accuracy on GMAT® Sentence Correction! Well one of the big reasons behind this is that once test-takers have mastered the rules they are able to immediately spot the error and pick option that rectify the error.
There is only one catch, they ignore the fact that while major error has been corrected, another error that might have been introduced in another part of the sentence.
The question below best exemplifies this.
Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, there is a disinclination on the part of many people to recognize the degree to which their analytical skills are weak.
(A) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, there is a disinclination on the part of many people to recognize the degree to which their analytical skills are weak.
(B) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, which they admit they lack, many people are disinclined to recognize that their analytical skills are weak.
(C) Unlike computer skills or other technical skills, analytical skills bring out a disinclination in many people to recognize that they are weak to a certain degree.
(D) Many people, willing to admit that they lack computer skills or other technical skills, are disinclined to recognize that their analytical skills are weak.
(E) Many people have a disinclination to recognize the weakness of their analytical skills while willing to admit their lack of computer skills or other technical skills.
Test-takers who learn the rule that they should make the right comparison and hence compare apples with apples tend to answer this question very quickly by marking option C.
They know that “Unlike computer skills or other technical skills” should be immediately followed by some other skills, in this case “analytical skills” (this concept has been explained at length here and here).
The first option that does this is option C and hence test-takers who have completed their study of rules would jump at this option. Once they do this they tend to ignore the other two options or read them without really reading them.
Option C corrects the major error but introduces another error in the rest of the sentence — that of altered or unclear meaning: analytical skills bring out a disinclination in many people to recognize that they are weak to a certain degree; weak to a certain degree in what?
Since by the time they reach option C they know the meaning of the sentence, test-takers assume that the meaning is understood but what counts is the meaning as it expressed in the particular option.
If test-takers had not jumped at C, despite being bullish about it, and read option D they would have or rather should have noticed another big difference between the two — option C is passive while A is active.
On the GMAT being able to pick options in passive voice is a huge advantage since between active and passive options, the GMAT always gives a preference to active voice!
This does not mean that the option in passive voice will be grammatically correct without any other error except that it is in passive voice (since passive voice is grammatically correct). They will always introduce a minor error of some type.
So we are left with D & E. Option D conveys the full meaning of the sentence without any error.
Option E is incorrect since have a disinclination is wordy (the verb disinclined is preferred) and, when followed by while willing creates an incomplete construction (since while X has to be followed by Y).
In the next Sentence Correction post we will discuss a few more questions of the same type.
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