Everything you need to know about GMAT – Verbal Section (II)

July 29, 2011

Sentence correction

For GMAT you do not only need to know English, but you need the basic and correct English.

First, some definitions:

  • Noun = a word that is used to name a person, place, thing or idea
  • Verb = a word that expresses action
  • Adjective = a word that modifies a noun
  • Adverb = a word that modifies a verb, adjective or adverb
  • Preposition = a word that notes the relation of a noun to an action or a thing
  • Phrase = a group of words acting as a single part of a speech. A phrase is missing either a subject or a verb or both
  • Prepositional phrase = a group of words beginning with a preposition
  • Pronoun = a word that takes the place of a noun
  • Clause = a group of words that contains a subject and a verb

Pronoun errors that you meet in the GMAT problems can be identified asking the following questions:

  • It is completely clear who or what the pronoun is referring to?
  • Does the pronoun agree in number with the noun it is referring to?

Common pronouns:

  • Singular: I, me, he, him, she, her, you, it, each, another, one, other, such, mine, yours, his, hers, ours, this, either, neither, each, everyone. Everybody, nobody, no one.
  • Plural: we, us, they, them, both, these, those.
  • Can be singular or plural: some, any, you, who, which, what, that.

Misplaced modifiers

  • When a sentence begins with a participial phrase (a phrase that starts with a verb ending in “ing”), that phrase is supposed to modify the noun or pronoun immediately following it.
  • Check that the noun is modified comes directly after the modifying phrase.

Parallel construction

If a sentence contains a list of things, or actions or is broken up into two halves, check to make sure the parts of the sentence are parallel.

Again, if your native language is not English, verify your knowledge tenses:

  • Present
  • Simple Past
  • Present Perfect
  • Past Perfect
  • Future

Subject-verb agreement

  • “The number of …” – singular
  • “A number of …” – plural
  • Singular pronouns: each, everyone, everybody, nobody

Quantity words

  • If two items: between, more, better, less.
  • If more than two items: among, most, best, least.
  • Countable items: fewer, number, many.
  • Non-countable items: less, amount, quantity, much.

Reading comprehension

The texts that you need to analyze in the reading comprehension part of the GMAT are mostly from social science, science, and business.

The questions are general (the main idea, the structure) are specific at the level of a certain row in the text.

Once you start reading work on two levels:

  • Understand what the GMAT text is about
  • Look for landmarks:
    • Trigger words: but, although, even though, however, yet, despite, in spite of, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, except, while, unless, on the other hand
    • Trigger words that signal a conclusion: therefore, thus, so, hence, implies, indicates
    • Words that continue an idea: in addition, by the same token, likewise, similarly, this (implies a reference to preceding sentence), thus (implies a conclusion)
    • Opposite words:
      • Generally – however, this time
      • The old view – however, the new view
      • The widespread belief – but the in-crowd believes …
      • Most scientists think – but Mr. Y thinks
      • On the one hand – on the other hand

      An answer choice that is general and vague is indisputable and is therefore often the correct answer.

      Words that make everything vague: usually, sometimes, may, can, some, most.

      Always the meaning of the texts will:

      • Respect all professionals.
      • Avoid sentences that can express strong emotions

      The tone is always positive. Any answer choice that expresses negative views is certainly wrong.

      Critical reasoning

      Critical reasoning was the hardest part for me in the GMAT test. Probably not because is hard, but for the feeling that I do not know with what to start.

      The texts are in form of an argument with three parts:

      1. Conclusion = what the author is trying to convince you of.
      2. Premises = pieces of evidence the author gives to support the conclusion.
      3. Assumptions = unstated ideas or evidence without which the entire conclusion might be invalid.

      To describe the eight questions types I will use the classification that I found in the book Cracking the GMAT (The Princeton Review):

      Assumption questions = ask you to identify an unstated premise of the passage from among the answer choices.

      • Gaps of logic:
        • Causal assumption = takes an effect and suggest a cause for it.
        • Analogy assumption = compares one situation to another, ignoring the question of whatever the two situations are comparable.
        • Statistical assumption = uses statistics to prove its point.
      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?
        • The argument above assumes which of the following?
        • The claim above rests on the questionable presupposition that …
      • Guideline:
        • Assumptions are never stated in the passage. If you see an answer choice that comes straight from the passage, it is not correct.
        • Assumptions support the conclusion of the passage.
        • Assumptions frequently turn on the gaps of logic (see up).

      Strengthen-the-argument questions = ask you to find the gap in the logic of the argument and then fix it with additional information.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the author `s argument?
        • Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the author` s hypothesis?
      • Guideline:
        • The correct answer will strengthen the argument with new information.
        • The new information you are looking for will support the conclusion of the passage.

      Weaken-the-argument questions = ask you to find a hole in the argument and expose it.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the conclusion drawn in the passage?
        • Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?
        • Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the argument above?
      • Guideline:
        • The statement you will look for should weaken the conclusion of the passage.
        • Frequently trade on the gaps of logic: cause for an effect, the representative of the statistics, analogy of a situation.

      Inference questions = they do not really ask you to make an inference.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following can be inferred from the information above?
        • Which of the following must be true on the basis of the statements above?
        • Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the passage?
        • Which of the following conclusions could most properly be drawn from the information above?
      • Guideline:
        • The answer is basic
        • Search for a situation described in the passage but do not go too far
        • These questions will concern the premises, not the conclusion

      Mimic-the-reasoning questions = ask you to recognize the reasoning in the passage and follow the same line of reasoning in one of the answer choices.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following most closely parallels the reasoning used in the argument above?
        • Which of the followings supports its conclusion in the same manner as the argument above?
        • Which of the following is most like the argument above in its logical structure?
      • Guideline:
        • If A, then B

      Resolve-the-paradox questions = ask you to resolve an apparent paradox or explain a possible discrepancy.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • Which of the following, if true, resolves the apparent contradiction presented in the passage above?
        • Which of the following, if true, best explains the discrepancy described above?
        • Which of the following, if true, forms a partial explanation for the paradox described above?
      • Guideline:
        • Find the answer choice that allows both of the facts from the passage to be true

      Evaluate-the-argument questions = ask you to ‘evaluate” or “assess” part of an argument.

      • Contain one of the following wordings.
        • The answer to which of the following questions would be most useful in evaluating the significance of the author `s claims?
        • Which of the following pieces of information would be most useful in assessing the logic of the argument presented above?

      Identify-the-reasoning questions = ask you to identify a method, technique or strategy used in the passage, or identify the role of a bolded phrase in the passage.

      • Contain one of the following wordings:
        • The bolded phrase plays which of the following roles in the argument above?
        • The argument uses which of the following methods of reasoning?
      • Guideline:
        • Identify the conclusion and the premise and think about how they are related.
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