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Types of Errors in GMAT Sentence Correction: Part 2

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  Types of Errors in GMAT Sentence Correction: Part 2

Posted by michael on Sun 19 Oct 08 at 4:53pm

Below are the last four errors in GMAT sentence correction.


Parallelism refers to repetition of the same word structures when used in a repetition of three or when used with conjunctions such as ‘and’. Consider the following example.

The end of the eighteenth century saw the emergence of prize-stock breeding, with individual bulls and cows receiving awards, fetching unprecedented prices, and excited enormous interest whenever they were put on show.*

In the above sentence there is a repetition of three. Bulls and cows did three things: received awards, fetched unprecedented prices, and excited enormous interest. All three word structures should be the same. What makes this sentence incorrect is the word ‘excited’. Excited is parallel to ‘receiving’ and ‘fetching’. As a result excited should be changed to ‘exciting’.


Rhetorical Construction just means clear and concise sentence structure. Consider the following example:

The loss of tens of billions in mortgage-backed securities by many US banks could make it harder for first time homeowners to purchase homes and for current homeowners to sell their homes, both of which could lead to what would be a severe drop in housing market prices.

In the sentence above, the phrase ‘what would be’ could simply be removed from the sentence, making the sentence shorter and more effective.


For those of you who have studied English as a second language, this term may be the most confusing. Most of the idioms non-native speakers study are colloquial idioms such as ‘nest egg’, which have meanings that are impossible to derive from the words themselves. Similar to colloquial idioms, GMAT idioms are simply correct as a result of common usage. However, GMAT idioms usually only concern prepositions (words that relate space e.g. above, on, around) and correlative conjunctions (two words used to tie an idea together e.g. either . . . or). Consider the following sentence:

Hemingway's wives - Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gelhorn, and Mary Welsh - were all strong and interesting women, very different than the often pallid women who populate his novels.*

In the sentence above ‘different than’ is used to contrast Hemingway’s wives to the women in his novels. The appropriate form is ‘different from’. This is an example of a mistake with a prepositional idiom.


Verb form just means verb tense. In general, test-takers should be concerned about past, present and future tenses. Each of these simple tenses has a perfect tense, which is used when discussing multiple times. The perfect tenses are easy to identify because they will include the words ‘had’ when used in the past tense, ‘have’ or ‘has’ when used in the present tense, and will use the phrase ‘will have’ when used in the future tense. Consider the following example:

In astronomy the term "red shift" denotes the extent to which light from a distant galaxy had been shifted toward the red, or long-wave, end of the light spectrum by the rapid motion of the galaxy away from the Earth.*

In the sentence above, the use of the verb ‘had shifted’ is in the past perfect tense, which would indicate that it was an action in the past that had completed before another action in the past occurred. However, the verb ‘denotes’ is in the present tense. The sentence could be corrected by changing ‘had’ to ‘has’, indicating that the shift was something that occurred at some time in the past and continues to occur in the present.



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