Grammar Order of Operations: Prioritizing GMAT Sentence Correction Rules [Video]

I spend a lot of time on online GMAT forums, and one thing I see all the time is test takers ruling out their first few wrong answer choices based on something relatively unimportant like an ambiguous pronoun. Nobody ever told them that some GMAT Sentence Correction rules matter more than others! In fact, some GMAT Sentence Correction “rules”, are more like “suggestions” — some things that test takers consider “errors” are only wrong if there aren’t any worse errors in the other answer choices.

So how do we ensure that we’re eliminating the most egregious errors first and saving the less important errors for last? In “Grammar Order of Operations: Prioritizing GMAT Sentence Correction Rules”, we walk through which GMAT grammar rules are most important and how to ensure you’re not ruling out a correct answer for an unimportant reason.

When solving a complex math equation, we use the concept of order of operations to determine when to look at each part of the equation. We start by evaluating anything that’s in parentheses, then we apply exponents. Next, we multiply and divide, and finally we add and subtract. If we do these steps in the wrong order, we often end up with the wrong answer for our equation. 

Just like math has PEMDAS, there is an order of operations for GMAT grammar rules. We can use this grammar order of operations to eliminate answer choices in order from most important to least important. So when we evaluate answer choices using our GMAT Sentence Correction rules, we should look for errors in in the following order:

  1. Meaning Errors
  2. Hard Grammar Errors
  3. Rhetoric Errors

This means that if we notice a rhetorical issue (like an ambiguous pronoun), we should wait to eliminate the answer until we are sure that there are no more meaning or hard grammar errors in any of the other answer choices.

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In the video, we walk through the different kinds of errors in GMAT Sentence Correction rules that fall into each category, such as misplaced modifiers, parallelism, concision, etc. We also discuss how Idiom and Diction Errors can sometimes fall into either the Hard Grammar category of GMAT grammar rules or the Rhetoric category, and how test takers need to be especially careful with them — watch the video to find out why!

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Happy GMAT Sentence Correction studies!

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Author: Erika John

Erika graduated from the University of Washington and got a 99th-percentile score on the GMAT. With years of experience teaching standardized test prep and directing a private tutoring academy, Erika is passionate about giving students the tools they need to succeed in cracking the GMAT and GRE.