GMAT Sentence Correction, GMAT Verbal, Test-Taking Strategy
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Sentence Correction – How To Increase Your Speed On Sentence Correction 3

In a few previous posts, this and this, we had discussed the importance of identifying the 3/2 Split as a way of really crashing the solving time on Sentence Correction.

Strategically this is crucial since the average time available per question on the Verbal Section is only 1 min 49 sec. Since most Indian test-takers end up taking at least 2 min. per question on Reading Comprehension questions (including passage reading time), it is imperative that they solve SC and CR in under 1:49 sec per question.

Between Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction questions, the former will take longer purely because the amount of new information that one has to process in each option, both in terms of length and logic, is greater than it is for the latter.

So on average, you should target a time limit of 1 min to 1 min. 10 sec. to solve Sentence Correction questions.

One of the ways to do this is by identifying the 3/2 Split. Another way to crash your solving time is to be very quick off the blocks and find the pattern around the main error as soon as possible.

A prolific architect who worked from the turn of the century until the late 1950’s, Julia Morgan designed nearly 800 buildings in California, perhaps most notably William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon.

(A) Julia Morgan designed nearly 800 buildings in California, perhaps most notably William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon

(B) perhaps the most notable of the nearly 800 buildings in California designed by Julia Morgan was William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon

(C) of the nearly 800 buildings in California designed by Julia Morgan, perhaps the most notable was William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon

(D) nearly 800 buildings in California were designed by Julia Morgan, of which William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon is perhaps the most notable

(E) William Randolph Hearst’s monumental estate at San Simeon is perhaps the most notable of the nearly 800 buildings in California designed by Julia Morgan.

The usual approach is to read the whole sentence and then try to find the error. This might not always be the fastest way to the answer.

As you read the question, you try to determine the error they are testing at every intermediate stage of the sentence — especially major errors. What are the major errors?

On the GMAT Sentence Correction, the three big errors are errors related to Subject, Pronoun Usage and Parallel Structure. All other errors are lower on the pecking order as far as the GMAT is concerned.

So as we read this sentence, we see that a subject is being described. We learned in the previous post that whenever a subject or an action performed by the subject is being described, the description should be immediately followed by the subject.

In this sentence, the description — A prolific architect who worked from the turn of the century until the late 1950’s — is immediately followed by the subject — Julia Morgan.

Since this is a major error type on the GMAT and the sentence can be correct as it is given (option A), you should quickly check if this rule is being violated in other options.

You will see that in all other options this rule is being violated. Given the way the question is structured, all you need to check is the beginning of each option to see if it is starting with the subject.

What would be effective solving time for this question? Not more than 30 seconds!

What is crucial is that you start looking at questions in terms of the errors tested and sentence structure.

This strategy need not be limited only to the major error, it can be extended to all the other rules as well.

Let us look at another sentence on which you can apply a similar approach.

The commission proposed that funding for the park’s development, which could be open to the public early next year, is obtained through a local bond issue.

(A) that funding for the park’s development, which could be open to the public early next year, is
(B) that funding for development of the park, which could be open to the public early next year, be
(C) funding for the development of the park, perhaps open to the public early next year, to be
(D) funds for the park’s development, perhaps open to the public early next year, be
(E) development funding for the park, which could be open to the public early next year, is to be

The moment you read the non-underlined part that says the commission proposed, you should be aware that this sentence is testing the rule pertaining to the imperative mode.

Whenever a sentence involves an action demanded of another person, which you can identify by the presence of words such as proposed, suggested, demanded , ordered, ruled, mandated, requested etc., it is said to be in the imperative form.

Such sentences typically follow the following structure: The judge mandated that he be present for the meeting or He requested that he be exempted from the meeting.

So the moment you read the word proposed, you should look for options with proposed that……be.

A quick scan of the options and you are left with options B and D. In option D the part within commas — perhaps open to the public early next year — is preceded by the park’s development. It is obvious that the development cannot be open to public next year. So you are left with option B, which the right answer.

The key to using this strategy successfully is to use it with discretion on very typical GMAT error types, such as the sentence above. More often than not test-takers use it for everything they think is wrong instead of typical GMAT errors, something that leads to lower accuracy levels.

The best way to reduce the time-taken on SC is the 3/2 Split but on the odd question, the approach discussed in this post can prove to be faster.

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