Let’s start with a true/false quiz.
True or false:
When I read a Sentence Correction prompt, I should search for errors.
Weeeeelll well well. This.
Written almost every day on our Manhattan GMAT forum.
Before we talk about “Should I?”, though, we need to chat about something else first: “Can I?”
Let’s assume, for the moment, “Yes, I can!” In other words, with a long look at choice A, you can reliably — not just every now and then, but reliably — see exactly what’s wrong with it.
Well, first off, there’s nothing special about choice A. It’s just an answer option, no more (or less) “special” than the other four. Sure, it’s lucky enough to be enshrined in the original sentence, but, hey, they had to put something there. (I still wonder why they don’t just put a blank there, but that’s another discussion.)
In short, choice A is just like choice B, choice C, choice D, or choice E.
So… If you could successfully “hunt” for errors in choice A, what would stop you just doing the same thing for every choice?
You’d get every SC problem correct, every time.
Is that your current situation?
If the answer is “Yes!”, then congratulations! You’re a sentence correction all-star. If you’re thinking about channeling your future MBA into a career in writing or editing (certainly a strange decision — but, hey, it’s a free country), then you’re well on your way. That, and, you can stop reading this article.
If the answer is not “Yes!”—in other words, if it’s “No”, or “Sometimes”, or “I really think I can”, or “I reallyreallyreally could, if I only had 30 more seconds per problem”—then the answer to our quiz is “False”. Because it doesn’t work.
Do not “hunt” for errors in the prompt.
If an error jumps out of the prompt, waves its arms, and yells “Hi! I’m wrong!”, then that’s a different story. In that case, sure, you should notice that error — and use it as an entry point into the answer choices.
Catching errors that throw themselves at you, though, isn’t the same as hunting. Don’t hunt.
So, what should you do with the prompt sentence?
We’ll tell you… soon.
Written By Ron Purewal, Manhattan GMAT Instructor & Curriculum Developer.
Manhattan Prep is the world’s leading GMAT test prep provider, offering in-person and live online courses, private tutoring, study books, and digital learning resources.