GMAT Sentence Correction, GMAT Verbal
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GMAT SC: Reading for Parallel Structure

One of the most important skills needed to master GMAT Sentence Correction is the ability to read for the structure and not the content of the sentence. Most of the time test-takers focus on trying to identify a specific rule (that they have learnt) that the sentence is breaking. The exercise of reading the sentence thus becomes similar to going over the words from left to right using a microscope that magnifies grammatical errors.

To take your GMAT Sentence Correction skill to the next level you need start reading the structure of the sentence — errors of structure (a very advanced form of parallel structure) are ones that are hardest to pick since they to do not fall into the standard categories of subject-verb, tenses, modifiers, parallelism of verbs and so on.

The GMAT Sentence Correction examples below will illustrate how to read for structure and to identify errors associated with faulty structure.


THAT + THAT

SENTENCE 1

Australian embryologists have found evidence that suggests that the elephant is descended from an aquatic animal, and its trunk originally evolving as a kind of snorkel.

(A) that suggests that the elephant is descended from an aquatic animal, and its trunk originally evolving
(B)  that has suggested the elephant descended from an aquatic animal, its trunk originally evolving
(C)  suggesting that the elephant had descended from an aquatic animal with its trunk originally evolved
(D)  to suggest that the elephant had descended from an aquatic animal and its trunk originally evolved
(E)  to suggest that the elephant is descended from an aquatic animal and that its trunk originally evolved

The sentence has the following structure:

  • ABC have found evidence that suggests THAT the elephant is x AND its trunk

The evidence is making two suggestions – THAT the elephant is x AND…

The second suggestion should be preceded by THAT. So the correct sentence should read as follows:

  • suggests THAT the elephant is x AND THAT it….

In the previous post we had discussed how GMAT Sentence Correction is a lot like Algebra, where the structure (or brackets) changes the implication of the sentence.

When the second THAT is not used, the sentence conveys the meaning that there is only one suggestion THAT the elephant is X and Y.

THAT + THAT as a structure can be seen on the tougher level GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Your ability to spot the same depends upon your ability to read for the structure of the sentence rather than for the content of the sentence or for a specific error.

SENTENCE 2

That the new managing editor rose from the publication’s “soft” new sections to a leadership position is more of a landmark in the industry than her being a woman.

(A) her being a woman
(B) being a woman is
(C) her womanhood
(D) that she was a woman
(E) that she is a woman

When read for structure, this is how the sentence will read:

  • THAT the new managing editor did x is more of a landmark THAN

What should follow THAN?

  • THAT the new managing editor did x is more of a landmark THAN THAT…

IN + IN

While the structure-based errors revolve primarily around THAT, once you understand the underlying approach, you will that there are other words as well that are used to set up parallel structure such as the word IN, used in this GMAT Sentence Correction question.

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.

(A)  did its return in 1910–1911
(B)  had its 1910–1911 return
(C)  in its return of 1910–1911
(D)  its return of 1910–1911 did
(E)  its return in 1910–1911

When read for structure, this is how the sentence will read:

  • IN no other historical sighting did did Halley’s Comet cause XYZ as it DID

What should follow DID?

  • IN no other historical sighting did did Halley’s Comet cause XYZ as it DID IN…

Once you perfect the technique of reading for structure, not only will your accuracy rate on such questions go up but your time-taken will also come down drastically. The above question for example becomes a 10-seconder, giving you ample time to solve CR and RC questions!

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