GMAT Tip of the Week: Flipping Sentence Correction Upside Down

GMAT Tip Upside DownFor many GMAT test-takers, one of the most challenging tasks on the exam is that of weeding through the clutter on Sentence Correction questions to arrive at an actionable decision point. So many Sentence Correction questions involve a lot of dense language and not-altogether-enjoyable subject matter, and as a result students spend a lot of time spinning their wheels trying to even get going.

To train yourself to cut through this problem, try this drill:

Flip your book upside down and try to solve five questions that way.

Now, keep in mind that this shouldn’t be the only way you study Sentence Correction, but many students have found it helpful to do a couple sets of 5-10 questions at a time this way. Why?

Having to read questions upside down will help you train your mind to search actively for known binary decision points – pronouns, modifiers, verbs – because you won’t be able to readily read for some of the smaller nuances of grammar and you won’t likely be able to get lost in the verbiage of the sentence. This drill can help you to fall deeper in love with (or just better appreciate) the quickly identifiable clues that signal the key to the sentence. Reading upside down makes you focus on pronouns, differences in verbs (either singular/plural or different tenses), the words before and after a comma that might lead to a modifier error, or the appearance of a semicolon.

And your goal on this test is efficiency – the seek-and-destroy method of Sentence Correction, seeking out the most common errors and eliminating them before you ever consider idiomatic usage or delve too deeply into subject matter, is not only more effective in arriving at correct answers, but also much more time-efficient since once you’ve eliminated an answer choice it’s gone and you don’t have to read or consider it again. Many high-performing test-takers can answer several questions in a row and not really even know what they’re about, primarily because they’ve trained themselves to identify and eliminate those quick-to-spot errors.

So try this as a drill to bring your accuracy up and time down – try a few questions reading upside down and force yourself to look for those main structural clues. Reframing the way you approach Sentence Correction by reading upside down can be an instrumental tool in bringing your score up.

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