How to score well on GMAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Time: 19 minutes

“People have always been divided about whether Reading is an art or a science. Proponents of “Art-Reading” claim that reading is an art because they believe that any science should actually be measurable. Since one cannot “measure” how much one needs to read to reach a certain level of proficiency, they argue, how can reading be a science?
 
On the other hand, are the critics who offer several objections to the hypothesis stated above. These proponents of “Science-reading” claim that since there are various techniques that can be conceived, devised, taught and learnt to improve reading skills, it can be considered a Science.”
 
GMAT Reading Art or Science
 
Did you read that?
 
Really??
 
You must be a GMAT aspirant! 🙂 If you have found your way to this blog, you are probably struggling with an issue that is common to most GMAT aspirants – Making sense of dense RC passages on obscure topics, reading words you have never heard before! We hear you!
 
The problem is, we are usually not accustomed to the level of reading that the GMAT requires of us.
 
So, how much RC is there in the GMAT anyway?
 
The number of RC passages vary, but the number of questions would be in the range of 12-15. RC passages can be characterized as short or long passages. Short passages are 1-2 paragraphs, less than 50 lines long, and usually have 3 questions. Long passages are usually 3-4 paragraphs, more than 50 lines long, and usually have 4 questions.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Question Format tips
 
In this blog, we will show you how to score well on GMAT Reading Comprehension, using a bunch of powerful techniques, that will work, regardless of how much reading you have done in your life or how much you used to score on your English exams at school!
 
Here’s a peek into what you will get in this blog –
 
1. A quick note on active and passive reading, to get you into the right frame of mind to tackle RC questions
2. A step-by-step approach to answering RC questions
3. The types of RC questions you will encounter
4. Practice exercises
 
 

Active Vs Passive Reading

Imagine yourself in front of the TV. You’re watching the news and simultaneously flipping through a magazine..You’re bored!
 
You chance upon a lifestyle article ( think ‘How to exercise right’ or ‘How to stay healthy in a scorching summer’), and you begin reading.
 
How do you think you would read?
 
Would you delve deep into the subject and try to absorb every detail? Would you try and correlate three things from the text and try to apply it to your current life? Would every fibre of your concentration be focused on that article?
 
Probably not.
 
What you would probably do is Passive Reading.
 
A passive reader –
 
1. Reads quickly
2. Has a short attention span
3. Will just skim through difficult points, or stop reading altogether.
 
GMAT Passive Reading Tips
 
On the other hand, imagine yourself on a cold December Sunday morning, snuggling in your couch while it is raining outside.
 
You have a novel by your favourite author in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.
 
In this situation, how would you read?
 
Would you relate to the characters in the book and imagine the different scenes that you are reading? Would you lose yourself in the book to such a degree that you are not aware of time passing by? Did we hearing you saying yes?
 
Well, this is Active Reading!
 
An active reader –
1. Reads with purpose
2. Asks questions to uncover the purpose and meaning of the text
3. Notes down the main points ( either mentally or down on paper)
GMAT Reading Comprehension Active Reading
As you may have guessed, Passive Reading isn’t much use on the GMAT..Active Reading is the way to go!
 
 

A Step-by-Step Approach to GMAT RC

There’s a lot of advice out there about HOW to solve an RC question.
 
Should you skim through the passage?
 
Should you speed-read?
 
Or should you read it carefully?
 
Should you look for keywords?
 
Should you read a few questions before you read the passage for the first time?
 
There’s way too much advice out there, and it can get overwhelming!
 
Let’s help you keep it simple.
 
Hit the erase button on all the contradictory advice you have heard on the subject, and listen carefully.
 

1. Skim through the passage once

 
(a) Read the passage once. Do not try to speed-read, and do not read too slowly.
 
(b) As you are reading, remember this mantra – R-O-S-I ( Read Opinion; Skip Information).
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips
 
This means that you do not need to remember data points. The data is provided only to support an opinion.
 
The opinion/inference of the author is what you need to focus on. Narrowing your focus thus will reduce the mental bandwidth you need to use, and will also significantly reduce the time you need to read the passage.
 
(c) While you are reading, ensure that you understand –
 
• The first few lines of the passage and the last sentence of the passage – This is because the first few lines of the passage supply the main idea of the passage. Even if you take a day to read the entire passage over and over again, you’ll find that main idea is in the first few lines 🙂
 
• The first and last sentence of each paragraph – Do this exercise. Pick an RC passage, pick the second paragraph, and remove all sentences except the first and the last one. You will see that MOST of the message of the paragraph is still retained! Even if you haven’t quite grasped a sentence in the middle of the paragraph on your initial reading of the passage, don’t fret about it. Just make sure you understand the first and the last sentence.
 
• Pay attention to keywords that indicate a shift of direction – There are certain ‘directional’ words, such as moreover, however, but, rather, etc, that indicate the flow of meaning between different sentences and paragraphs.
As you read, make a mental note of these words and the changes they indicate.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension First Time Read tips
 

2.Make an RC map as you skim

 
The single most effective technique on the Reading Comprehension section is note-taking..Or what we call RC maps.
 
We see many students resist the idea of taking notes.
 
And we get it.
 
On the face of it, making a map might look like a waste of very precious time. You may think that you could just make a mental note of it.
 
But here’s why it is important – Remember, you’re not tackling the RC question when you’re feeling your best and brightest. You have already used up a lot of mental energy on previous sections of the test. You need to conserve your energy until the end of the test.
 
Do you really want to coax your brain into memorising what each passage contains?
 
Or do you want to use it more effectively, to actually solve questions?
 
On the RC, use your brain as a processing unit, not a storage unit!
 
Trust us on this..mapping will help you even if you otherwise have a knack for reading, even if you otherwise have a fantastic memory that can remember all sorts of irrelevant details. The very fact that you are tackling the RC section under stress changes the rules of the game, and makes mapping essential!
 
Road Map GMAT Reading Comprehension
 
How should your RC Map look? Here are the two things you need to remember as you frame your RC map.
 
 
(a) Your map should be brief:
 
Your RC map should contain only a few words ( or a few diagrams, if you’re a visual learner) of summing up for each passage. Remember..your map is only a way for YOU to answer quicker. It is not supposed to be a reference for anybody else.
 
So write just enough so that, a few minutes later, you will be able to track down answers using the map. You want to use shorthand or your own secret code or squiggly figures? Go ahead! 🙂
 
(b) Your map should not contain data:
Every sentence in a GMAT passage is either one where the author expresses and opinion or one where the author presents data.
 
When you read a passage for the first time it is important to understand the opinions of the author and the general direction of the passage, but not the actual data.
 
If your question demands factual knowledge, you can always do a quick re-read of the relevant section.
 
GMAT Road Map Reading Comprehension
 
For this reason, do not bother clogging your mind or your RC map with data!
 

3. Answer the questions!

 
Now that you have a basic understanding of the passage, start solving the questions.
Read the question slowly and carefully. Once you have understood what the question is asking you, quickly glance through the map to understand where you need to go looking for the answer.
 
Let’s say that the map indicates that the answer will be found in paragraph 3. The next thing you need to do is scan through paragraph 3.
 
Scanning is nothing but going through large sections of text rapidly with the intent of zeroing in on a sentence or a set of sentences.
 
As soon as you have arrived at a sentence which looks like it may contain the answer to your question, slow down, read carefully and understand what this section of the passage is conveying.
 
Now read through ALL the answer options.
 
Use the process of elimination to filter out the incorrect options and narrow down to the answer.
 
Unlike the Sentence Correction Section, where you can employ techniques such as Vertical Scanning to quickly eliminate a couple of answer choices, you have to read EACH option carefully on the RC section, to ensure that you choose the most optimal answer!
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Answering Process
 
And there it is! You have just solved an RC question 🙂
 
Remember..Not all RC questions are created equal. Some of them may require a little more effort and time as compared to others.
 
Read the next section for a breakdown of the common types of RC questions that appear on the GMAT!
 
 

QUESTION TYPES on the RC

 

1. Big Picture Questions/Main Idea questions:

Big picture questions or main idea questions ask you to identify the central theme of a passage. The below questions are the most commonly asked questions on this theme –
 
Which of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?
 
The primary purpose of the passage is to
 
The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?
 
The author of this passage is primarily concerned with
 
The main point made by the passage is that
 
How do you tackle this question type?
 
This is the simplest type of question to answer, because you might not even need to refer to the passage again. The main idea is usually in the first few sentences of the passage, and you may even have down on your map. However, if you are in doubt about whether you got it down correctly, by all means go back and quickly refer the first paragraph and the last couple of sentences of the last paragraph of the passage.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips Question Types
 

2. Supporting Idea Questions

 
Supporting idea questions are easy to recognize. They often start with “according to the passage” or “the passage states that”. These questions test your ability to find a specific piece of information contained in the passage.
 
The below questions are common among this type –
 
According to the passage, a questionable assumption about x is that
 
The passage states that ‘a’ occurs because
 
According to the passage, which of the following is true of ‘a’
 
The passage mentions each of the following EXCEPT
 
According to the passage, if ‘a’ occurs then
 
How do you tackle this question type?
 
These questions are not as easy to answer as main idea questions because you will have to recollect, or re-read a specific portion of text. Start by looking at the map to zero down on which paragraph is the relevant one. Now quickly scan over this paragraph and use the POE technique on the answer options, to arrive at the answer.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Supporting Idea
 

3. Inference/Implied Questions

 
These questions are very similar to Supporting Idea questions. But they ask you to go a little further and think about what the author implied in a particular set of lines, rather than just what he/she said.
 
Remember, you do not have to stretch your imagination to answer this one- you still have to stay very close to the truth. Just look for the implicit, unwritten message in what the author said.
 
The passage implies that which of the following was true of x
 
It can be inferred from the passage that
 
The passage suggests which of the following about x
 
The author implies that x occurred because
 
The author implies that all of the following statements about x are true EXCEPT
 
How do you tackle this question type?
 
The answer to this question is usually a fairly obvious logical consequence of some sentence in the passage. First, look at the map to zero in on the paragraph you need to read. Next, look at the answer options and use POE. You may have to switch back and forth between the answer options and the paragraph a few times.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips Inferred Implied
 

4. Structural questions

 
Structural questions test you on your awareness of the logical structure of the passage.
 
Some common questions in this type are –
 
The main function of the second paragraph of this passage is to
 
The author uses the adjective ‘a’ in line ‘b’ to express that
 
Which of the following best describes the relation of the third paragraph to the passage as a whole?
 
How do you tackle this question type?
 
This is one of the question types where your map will come to your aid. Even just chalking down the map would have given you an idea of the flow of the passage, even if you have not written down anything in specific about the structure. However, this question could occasionally require a re-read of a section of the passage, with particular attention on words that indicate a shift in direction.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Structural Tips
 

5. Extrapolation Questions

 
Extrapolation questions require you to go one step further and extrapolate the given information to hypothetical situations.
 
These questions are likely to be in the below form –
 
The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following?
 
Which of the following statements would provide the most logical continuation of the final paragraph?
 
[an idea or action described in the passage] is most similar to which of the following?
 
How do you tackle this question type?
 
These questions will need some thinking through, and could take a little longer to answer. Amongst these question options given above, those that reference a particular section ( the 2nd and 3rd options ) will probably require lesser effort to answer.
 
The first type will require you to understand everything the author has opined, before you can take a guess at what else the author could say.
 
GMAT Reading Comprehension Extrapolation Questions Tips
 
 

Illustrative Passage

 
Let us now solve a sample GMAT RC passage.
 
The human species came into being at the time of the greatest biological diversity in the history of the Earth. Today, as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago. The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful. That, in essence, is the biodiversity crisis.
 
The history of global diversity can be summarized as follows: after the initial flowering of multicellular animals, there was a swift rise in the number of species in early Paleozoic times (between 600 and 430 million years ago), then plateau like stagnation for the remaining 200 million years of the Paleozoic era, and finally a slow but steady climb through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras to diversity’s all-time high. This history suggests that biological diversity was hard won and a long time in coming. Furthermore, this pattern of increase was set back by five massive extinction episodes. The most recent of these, during the Cretaceous period, is by far the most famous, because it ended the age of the dinosaurs, conferred hegemony on the mammals, and ultimately made possible the ascendancy of the human species. But the cretaceous crisis was minor compared with the Permian extinctions 240 million years ago, during which between 77 and 96 percent of marine animal species perished. It took 5 million years, well into Mesozoic times, for species diversity to begin a significant recovery.
 
Within the past 10,000 years biological diversity has entered a wholly new era. Human activity has had a devastating effect on species diversity, and the rate of human-induced extinctions is accelerating. Half of the bird species of Polynesia have been eliminated through hunting and the destruction of native forests. Hundreds of fish species endemic to Lake Victoria are now threatened with extinction following the careless introduction of one species of fish, the Nile perch. The list of such biogeographic disasters is extensive.
 
Because every species is unique and irreplaceable, the loss of biodiversity is the most profound process of environmental change. Its consequences are also the least predictable because the value of Earth’s biota (the fauna and flora collectively) remains largely unstudied and unappreciated; unlike material and cultural wealth, which we understand because they are the substance of our everyday lives, biological wealth is usually taken for granted. This is a serious strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. The biota is not only part of a country’s heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centered on that place; it is also a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and other commercially important substance.
 

(I) Stop here. Read the above passage.

 
Done?
 
On your initial reading of the passage, we hope you focused on the highlighted sentences as below. This passage has a LOT of data about various eras. All of it is unnecessary information at this point. The important bits, that is, the opinions, are highlighted.
 
The human species came into being at the time of the greatest biological diversity in the history of the Earth. Today, as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago. The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful. That, in essence, is the biodiversity crisis.
 
The history of global diversity can be summarized as follows: after the initial flowering of multicellular animals, there was a swift rise in the number of species in early Paleozoic times (between 600 and 430 million years ago), then plateau like stagnation for the remaining 200 million years of the Paleozoic era, and finally a slow but steady climb through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras to diversity’s all-time high. This history suggests that biological diversity was hard won and a long time in coming. Furthermore, this pattern of increase was set back by five massive extinction episodes. The most recent of these, during the Cretaceous period, is by far the most famous, because it ended the age of the dinosaurs, conferred hegemony on the mammals, and ultimately made possible the ascendancy of the human species. But the cretaceous crisis was minor compared with the Permian extinctions 240 million years ago, during which between 77 and 96 percent of marine animal species perished. It took 5 million years, well into Mesozoic times, for species diversity to begin a significant recovery.
 
Within the past 10,000 years biological diversity has entered a wholly new era. Human activity has had a devastating effect on species diversity, and the rate of human-induced extinctions is accelerating. Half of the bird species of Polynesia have been eliminated through hunting and the destruction of native forests. Hundreds of fish species endemic to Lake Victoria are now threatened with extinction following the careless introduction of one species of fish, the Nile perch. The list of such biogeographic disasters is extensive.
 
Because every species is unique and irreplaceable, the loss of biodiversity is the most profound process of environmental change. Its consequences are also the least predictable because the value of Earth’s biota (the fauna and flora collectively) remains largely unstudied and unappreciated; unlike material and cultural wealth, which we understand because they are the substance of our everyday lives, biological wealth is usually taken for granted. This is a serious strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. The biota is not only part of a country’s heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centered on that place; it is also a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and other commercially important substance.
 

2. Make an RC Map.

 
So this is what our Map looks like –
 
Paragraph 1:
Introducing the biodiversity crisis -> caused by human populations.
 
Paragraph 2:
Biological diversity was hard won. 5 extinction episodes.
 
Paragraph 3:
Effect of human activity on biodiversity – specific examples.
 
Paragraph 4:
Ignoring this problem is an error because- part of heritage, source of potential wealth.
 
Let us examine each of the following questions in detail –
 

1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?

 
(A) The reduction in biodiversity is an irreversible process that represents a setback both for science and for society as a whole.
 
(B) The material and cultural wealth of a nation are insignificant when compared with the country’s biological wealth.
 
(C) The enormous diversity of life on Earth could not have come about without periodic extinctions that have conferred preeminence on one species at the expense of another.
 
(D) The human species is in the process of initiating a massive extinction episode that may make past episodes look minor by comparison.
 
(E) The current decline in species diversity is human-induced tragedy of incalculable proportions that has potentially grave consequences for the human species.
 
Solution:
 
(A) The passage does not indicate that reduction in biodiversity is irreversible; just that recovery is slow. Also, the main idea of the passage is about the role of human populations in this process.
 
(B) This is not indicated anywhere in the passage.
 
(C) Not true. In fact, the passage says that these extinctions slowed down the increase in diversity.
 
(D) Humans may be causing this tragedy by their deeds, but they are not in the process of ‘Initiating’ a massive extinction episode.
 
(E) This is the correct answer. From the map, this is indeed the main idea.
 

2. Which one of the following situations is most analogous to the history of global diversity summarized in lines 10-18 of the passage?

 
(A) The number of fish in a lake declines abruptly as a result of water pollution, then makes a slow comeback after cleanup efforts and the passage of ordinances against dumping.
 
(B) The concentration of chlorine in the water supply of large city fluctuates widely before stabilizing at a constant and safe level.
 
(C) An old-fashioned article of clothing goes in and out of style periodically as a result of features in fashion magazines and the popularity of certain period films.
 
(D) After valuable mineral deposits are discovered, the population of a geographic region booms then levels off and begins to decrease at a slow and steady pace.
 
(E) The variety of styles stocked by a shoe store increases rapidly after the store opens, holds constant for many months, and then gradually creeps upward.
 
Solution:
 
The passage talks of a steep increase, then stagnation, then a slow climb. Let us look for a parallel analogy.
 
(A) This option talks of a decline and comeback. Hence incorrect.
(B) This talks of a fluctuation and then stabilization. Hence incorrect.
(C) This is completely irrelevant as an analogy.
(D) This is incorrect because of the decrease after the plateau – we are looking for an increase after the plateau.
(E) This is the correct answer.
 
3. The author suggests which one of the following about the Cretaceous crisis?
 
(A) It was the second most devastating extinction episode in history.
 
(B) It was the most devastating extinction episode up until that time.
 
(C) It was less devastating to species diversity than is the current biodiversity crisis.
 
(D) The rate of extinction among marine animal species as a result of the crisis did not approach 77 percent.
 
(E) The dinosaurs comprised the great majority of species that perished during the crisis.
 
Solution:
 
(A) This is a trap answer. Though the passage says that the Cretaceous crisis was minor compared to the Permian extinctions, it does not say that the Cretaceous crisis was the second most devastating extinction.
 
(B) No. In fact, the passage explicitly says that it was NOT the most devastating.
 
(C) Though the passage does say that current crisis is cause for concern, there is no information to indicate a comparison between the current crisis and the Cretaceous crisis.
 
(D) This is the correct answer. Since the Cretaceous crisis was minor compared to the Permian extinction, which had a 77% -96% rate of extinction, it can be inferred that the Cretaceous crisis did not have this high rate.
 
(E) There is nothing to suggest that dinosaurs formed the majority of species that perished.
 
4. The author mentions the Nile perch in order to provide an example of
 
(A) a species that has become extinct through human activity
 
(B) the typical lack of foresight that has led to biogeographic disaster
 
(C) a marine animal species that survived the Permian extinctions
 
(D) a species that is a potential source of material wealth
 
(E) the kind of action that is necessary to reverse the decline in species diversity
 
Solution:
 
(A) The Nile Perch has not become extinct. It is the species that endangered many others.
(B) This is the correct answer.
(C) There is nothing to connect the Nile Perch to Permian extinctions.
(D) This is not suggested anywhere.
(E) No – the Nile Perch example is used to explain how the decline is being caused – not what needs to be done to reverse the decline.
 

5. All of the following are explicitly mentioned in the passage as contributing to the extinction of species EXCEPT

 
(A) hunting
 
(B) pollution
 
(C) deforestation
 
(D) the growth of human populations
 
(E) human-engineered changes in the environment
 
Solution:
 
(A) Hunting is mentioned as a reason in the third paragraph.
 
(B) This is the correct answer. Pollution is not mentioned anywhere in the passage.
 
(C) Destruction of native forests is mentioned in the third paragraph.
 
(D) Growth of human populations – This is suggested not in the third paragraph, but in the very first couple of sentences.
 
(E) This is suggested – The Nile Perch is an example.
 

6. The passage suggests which one of the following about material and cultural wealth?

 
(A) Because we can readily assess the value of material and cultural wealth, we tend not to take them for granted.
 
(B) Just as the biota is a source of potential material wealth, it is an untapped source of cultural wealth as well.
 
(C) Some degree of material and cultural wealth may have to be sacrificed if we are to protect our biological heritage.
 
(D) Material and cultural wealth are of less value than biological wealth because they have evolved over a shorter period of time.
 
(E) Material wealth and biological wealth are interdependent in a way that material wealth and cultural wealth are not.
 
Solution:
 
(A) This is the correct answer. This is suggested by the above lines.
(B) This is not indicated in the passage.
(C) This is not at all indicated.
(D) This comparison is not made.
(E) Though the passage indicates that biological wealth can increase material wealth ( in the last sentence), there is no comparison made between cultural wealth and biological wealth.
 
7. The author would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements about the consequences of the biodiversity crisis?
 
(A) The loss of species diversity will have as immediate an impact on the material of nations as on their biological wealth.
 
(B) The crisis will likely end the hegemony of the human race and bring about the ascendancy of another species.
 
(C) The effects of the loss of species diversity will be dire, but we cannot yet tell how dire.
 
(D) It is more fruitful to discuss the consequences of the crisis in terms of the potential loss to humanity than in strictly biological loss to humanity than in strictly biological terms.
 
(E) The consequences of the crisis can be minimized, but the pace of extinctions can not be reversed.
 
Solution:
 
(A) The impact on the material of nations vs the impact on biological wealth – This comparison is not made in the passage. It just says that the biodiversity crisis could have an impact on material wealth as well.
(B) This is not suggested at all.
(C) This is the correct answer, as indicated by this line – ‘The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful.’
(D) We cannot ascertain this. The author does not express a preference for discussing it in one way or the other – he talks about it in biological terms AS WELL as in terms of potential loss to humanity.
(E) The author does not say anything indicating that the consequences can be minimized.
 
With a structured approach to reading, mapping and solving questions, you can turn RC from a many-headed monster to your friend on the GMAT!
 
We hope that this post helps you better your performance on GMAT RC.
 
Now that you’ve cracked the RC section of the GMAT, would you like to learn powerful techniques to help you on other sections on the GMAT as well?

 

 

Pro Tip: Think you are ready for an interactive video lesson? Try out our free GMAT Online Trial course.

How to Solve Fully Underlined Sentence Correction Questions

Reading Time: 5 minutes

While attempting the questions in the Verbal section on the GMAT, one type of question that makes your hearts skip a beat is definitely the fully underlined sentence correction question.

 

In your mind, Sentence Correction is already full of gruelling grammar rules and exceptions – add to that a fully underlined question and you probably don’t even know where to begin! Imagine getting such a question in the last 15 minutes of your test – a brain shutdown or heart attack in this circumstance cannot be overruled 🙂

 

One reason that can be attributed to this mind-freeze is purely psychological. So let’s look at how to work out these questions. The first question that we need to ask ourselves is this; “Why does GMAC underline the complete sentence?” “Is it just to make life more complicated?”

 

Actually, not!

 

We think that an SC question tests us on too many concepts. However, somewhere at the back of our mind, don’t we know that many concepts tested means easier error-identification? The most challenging part of a fully underlined SC question is the fact that you cannot use the vertical scan technique to eliminate options. This is because every option begins differently.

 

Here’s the good news though. Research on hundreds of official GMAT questions show that fully underlines SC questions very often test 2 concepts: Modifiers & Parallelism. So, if you are thorough with these two concepts and are able to identify underlying patterns and traps, tackling fully underlined questions can become very easy!

 

The Modifier Rule(s):

 

We all know the basic rule for Modifiers, don’t we? Let’s quickly list down those rules here.

 

1. A modifier must be placed closest to what it modifies.

 

Ex: Arranged in secret, the discovery of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding was not as expected – Wrong!

 

Arranged in secret, Romeo and Juliet’s wedding was discovered in the most unexpected way – Right!

 

2. Whatever the modifier modifies must exist in the sentence. Otherwise it would create a dangling modifier.

 

Ex: Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, upto 1000 times magnification can be achieved while trying to study blood cells – Wrong!

 

Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, a technician can achieve upto 1000 times magnification while trying to study blood cells – Right!

 

3. Make sure that the modifier doesn’t modify the possessive form of the noun that it is supposed to modify.

 

Ex: A developing nation, India’s status is slowly rising. – Wrong!

 

A developing nation, India is slowly rising in its status – Right!

 

4. “Which” is a non-essential modifier and “That” is an essential modifier. However both of them refer to the noun that immediately precedes them.

 

Ex: I am trying to sell my washing machine, which was brought 20 years ago. – Right!

 

This is the antique clock that was owned by the Queen herself – Right!

 

5. Adverbial modifiers usually take the place after the object of the verb.

 

Ex:Ram killed with one arrow Ravan – Wrong!

 

Ram killed Ravan with one arrow – Right!

 

Now that we have revised the basic rules, let’s look at how we can use the above pointers to solve a question.

 

Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage there, now has reason to fear the European Common Market.

 

A) Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage there, now has reason to fear the European Common Market.

 

B) Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, the diminished economic leverage of the U.S. there is, according to economists, one reason to fear the European Common Market.

 

C) Because it controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe, a place where the U.S. have diminished economic leverage, economists argue that they now have a reason to fear the European Common Market.

 

D) Because it controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S.’s diminished economic leverage is a reason for the U.S. to fear the actions of the European Common Market.

 

E) Economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage in Europe, now has reason to fear the actions of the European Common Market, which controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe.

 

If you notice, when the whole sentence is underlined, then the options are different versions of the questions by itself. Hence, comparing the options to find the error might be tedious.

 

So let’s try to identify the error, which is clearly misplaced modifiers in this case. The core sentence in this question is “Economists argue that the U.S, now has reason to fear the European Common Market” and the modifying phrases are “Controlling … Europe” and “with … there”.

 

The phrase modifies “Economists” incorrectly whereas the second phrase modifies “U.S” and hence is right. Yaay 🙂 Error identified!!

 

A – Eliminated for the above stated reason.

 

B – The phrase “Controlling … Europe” incorrectly modifies the diminished Economic Leverage – Eliminated.

 

C – Look at the phrase “ A place where the U.S have …” U.S is singular and have is plural – SV Agreement error – Eliminate.

 

D – The phrase “Because ….. Europe” again incorrectly modifies “Economists” – Eliminate.

 

E – OA – The phrase “ with … Europe” modifies U.S and the phrase “which .. Europe” modifies European common market.

 

And there, you have the answer. 🙂

 

The Parallelism Rule:

 

Whenever there is a list, the items of the list must be balanced. By balanced we mean that the items in the list need to be of the same grammatical structure.

 

Ex: My cricket coach told me that I should diet, follow a strict fitness regimen and I should lose my weight – Wrong! The clauses in the sentence (list) don’t follow similar grammatical structure.

 

My cricket coach told me that I should diet, follow a strict fitness regimen and lose my weight – Right! All the clauses in the list follow a similar grammatical structure.

 

Parallelism, again as said, isn’t a grammatical rule by itself. It is just a way in which a sentence needs to be constructed so that it looks elegant and neat! However remember that sometimes when a complete sentence is underlined, then check out whether there is a list and use parallelism to arrive at the answer.

 

Other Grammar Rules to be Remembered:

 

When the complete sentence is underlined, remember that it’s easy for GMAC to play around with phrases and clauses. So keep the following in mind as well.

We might be too engrossed in trying to figure out modifiers and parallelism that we might miss out to identify run-on sentences. If you remember, run-on sentences are two dependent clauses connected with a comma.

Ex: I took the GMAT, I scored 750. Wrong!

 

I took the GMAT and scored 750.

Because of modifiers or additive phrases in between, the Subject and the Verb might be placed far from each other and hence identifying subject verb agreement errors might also be a problem.

If figuring out run-on sentences is on one hand, so is figuring out sentence fragments. Again, a sentence fragment is a phrase that ends up making a sentence incomplete. Since multiple manipulations are possible with a completely underlined sentence, it is easy for GMAT to leave a sentence fragment and since we have SCTVS (Sentence Correction Tunnel Vision Syndrome :)) we tend to only look at the erroneous part and neglect the other part where there are errors.

Who said completely underlined SC questions are a trouble now? Just don’t lose your cool and have a methodical approach! 🙂

 

Here are some fully underlined SC questions for more practice:

 

OG 12 :

 

Qn 96, 100, 107, 108, 110, and 113

 

Verbal Review :

 

Qn 59, 88, 104, 109 and 111.

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Comparison Questions on GMAT Sentence Correction

comparison-on-GMAT-SC
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Comparison questions in GMAT SC can get a little tricky because they may test not just comparisons, but often, idioms and parallelism too. In this blog let’s see how to do comparison questions.
 

Basic Rules for Comparison:

 
Which is better – a rose or a mango?
 
You’re probably thinking, “What a stupid question – why would you compare a flower with a fruit?” That’s exactly the point – only similar items can be compared. i.e. flowers with flowers; fruits with fruits; people with people and so on.
 
On the GMAT, similarity happens on 2 fronts – logical similarity (as seen above) and grammatical similarity. Let’s look at the basic rules for comparison:
 
Items that are compared in a list must be logically similar
 

The number of people having a smart phone in 1990 is less than half of 2000 X

 
This sentence is wrong because, we are comparing the number of people having a smart phone in 1990 to the year ‘2000’. This is an illogical comparison. How would be rewrite this sentence?
 

The number of people having a smart phone in 1990 is less than half of the number in 2000.

 
In this sentence we are comparing the number of people on both sides.
 
In terms of grammar, the items that are compared must be of the same part of speech. i.e. Nouns to Nouns, Adjectives to Adjectives and Verbs to Verbs.
 

He types faster than my typing speed.

 
What are we comparing here? My typing speed and his.
 
However, the first part of this comparison is a verb: ‘types faster’ and the second is a noun ‘my typing speed’; this is a structurally dissimilar comparison. How would we rewrite this sentence?
 

His typing speed is more than mine. OR
 
He types faster than I do.

 
In the first case, we are comparing typing speeds whereas in the second case, we are comparing how two people type.
 
 

OG Illustration #1:

 
Let’s take a look at Qn 9 from OG 13.
 
First, read the sentence given and identify what is being compared.
 
Option A: This option compares the rice production in 1979 to THOSE of the 1978 harvest. Here, A = Rice production in 1979 Ideally, B has to be rice production in 1978.
 
What does THOSE really refer to here? Rice production?
 
Can “Those” refer to “Rice production”? Certainly not, because “those” is plural and “rice production” is singular. So, A is incorrect.
 
Now let’s take a look at option C. Here, A = Rice production in 1979 and B = 1978. In essence, this option is comparing rice production in one year with another year (not the production in the other year) – this is illogical. So C is also wrong.
 
Option B, on the other hand, compares the right things. A is the rice production in 1979 and B is the ‘1978 harvest’.
 
Now you may be wondering – shouldn’t B be ‘rice production in 1978’? Not necessarily – 2 items need to be similar – not necessarily the same. ‘harvest’ and ‘production’ are similar quanities – so this is perfectly acceptable.
 
Options D and E create new errors on the question. They use the word “fewer” to talk about production, which is not a countable quantity. Can one say “fewer” production? 🙂
 
Looking at options D and E, we realise that sometimes the right words need to be used while making a comparison. So the obvious next question is whether there is a list of words or other idiomatic rules that apply to GMAT comparisons. We’ve attempted to compile some of the main rules:
 
1. When countable things are being compared use words like fewer, more and number.
 
2. When uncountable things are being compared use words like amount, lesser, and greater.
 
3. When comparing 2 items, use the comparative form of the adjective; when comparing more than 2 items, use the superlative form of the adjective.
 
For example:
 

Ram is taller than Shyam (comparative form ‘taller’)

 

Ram is the tallest person in the class (superlative form ‘tallest’)

 
4. When comparing 2 items, use ‘between’; when comparing more than 2 items, use ‘among’.
 

Between Ram and Shyam, Ram is taller.

 

Among Ram, Shyam and Ashwin, Ram is the tallest.

 
5. We use ‘like’ to denote similarity and ‘as’ to denote sameness.
 

Swapan looks like his father.

 

Swapan writes with his left hand, as does his father.

 
 

OG Illustration #2:

 
Let’s look at another example: Qn 11 from OG 13.
 
First, read the sentence and try to identify what is being compared. The non-underlined part of the sentence starts with James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. This means that we are comparing people. i.e. B = James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. So what should be A?
 
Option A: Implies that A is ‘the idolization’ – illogical comparison between ‘idolization’ and people
 
Option B: Same as option A
 
Option C: has the pronoun ‘that’ which has no legitimate antecedent. Doesn’t make sense
 
Option D: As what is? The meaning is ambiguous
 
Option E: Bingo! Compares the Brontes and the Brownings – writers – with Joyce and Woolf. i.e. people with people. Logical comparison. Hence, correct.
 
 

More Official Practice Questions:

For more practice, solve the following official questions:
 
OG 13: 11,24,32,43,85,98,99,108,124,125,130,136,139.
 
Verbal Review: 13,25,32,41,44,66,85
 
Happy Comparing and See you in our next blog!
 
 
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
 
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  • September, 30th, 2014
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Building Your Strength in Reading Comprehension

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Reading newspapers and books may improve your general reading habit, but not your ability to crack GMAT RC. This is because the subject matter and structure of GMAT RC passages are quite different, and therefore, the mindset with which you approach them must also be different.

The best way to get better at GMAT RC is to practice official passages using the techniques taught in the CrackVerbal RC classes. However, if you have a 3-4month plan for the GMAT and want to build your strength in RC during this time, or if you don’t want to ‘use up’ official passages, here is a great way to build your strength in Reading Comprehension.

Go to resources – magazines and websites – that host passages similar to GMAT RC passages, and practice your techniques on them. Here are some sources we recommend –

economist.com – business, technology, culture.

historytoday.com – history

blogs.nature.com – science
sociology.org – social sciences

Now that you have identified WHAT to read, here is HOW you should read them –

Give yourself 2-3 minutes to read each passage.Don’t forget to practice the critical reading, skimming and scanning techniques taught in class.

Make a map.If you don’t think the first map you made was useful, review and revise it. Practice till you master the art of capturing the essentials – and only the essentials – of any passage in a map.

Answer the Big Picture question.All GMAT RC passages will have a big picture question. And you already know how these will be worded. So try to answer the big picture questions about the article you read – what is the central theme? what is the primary purpose?

Analyze the Structure.Was the article a description of something? Was it an opinion or perspective? Were there opposing viewpoints? Was it an analysis or evaluation?

Understand the Tone.Was it positive or negative? Did it question facts or events? Did it criticize any steps taken or conclusions formed?

 

Let me take an example:

 

Work on the world’s first underground railway started in 1860 when the Metropolitan Railway began building a tunnel more than three miles long from Paddington to Farringdon Street. It was largely financed by the City of London, which was suffering badly from horse-drawn traffic congestion that was having a damaging effect on business. The idea of an underground system had originated with the City solicitor, Charles Pearson, who had persuaded the City Corporation to put up money and he was probably the most important single figure in the underground’s creation. The first section linked the City with the railway stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross, which had been built in the previous 30 years. A deep trench was excavated by the ‘cut and cover’ method along what are now the Marylebone Road and the Euston Road and turning south-east beside Farringdon Road. Brick walls were built along the sides, the railway tracks were laid at the bottom and then the trench was roofed over with brick arches and the roads were put back on top, though the last stretch to Farringdon was left in an open, brick-lined cutting. Stations lit by gas were created at Paddington, Edgware Road, Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Euston Road and King’s Cross on the way to Farringdon. The line was opened to the public on the following day, a Saturday, and people flocked to try it out. More than 30,000 passengers crowded the stations and pushed their way into packed trains. The underground had been mocked in the music halls and derisively nicknamed ‘the Drain’. There were predictions that the tunnel’s roof would give way and people would fall into it, while passengers would be asphyxiated by the fumes, and an evangelical minister had denounced the railway company for trying to break into Hell. In fact the railway was a tremendous success and The Times hailed it as ‘the great engineering triumph of the day’. In its first year it carried more than nine million passengers in gas-lit first-class, second-class and third-class carriages, drawn by steam locomotives that belched out choking quantities of smoke. As far as the City was concerned, the corporation was able to sell its shares in the Metropolitan Railway at a profit and the underground did ease congestion for a time. A more lasting consequence was to make commuting far easier and so cause London to sprawl out even more from its centre, while the number of people actually living in the City itself declined sharply. [Source: ‘First Day of the London Tube’, Richard Cavendish, History Today Volume 63 Issue 1 2013. http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/first-day-london-tube]

 

Take 2 minutes to read this passage and create a map. Afterwards, spend 5-6 minutes thinking about the following questions:

What is the primary purpose of this passage?

What is the organization of the passage?

What is the author’s tone?

What are the interesting words/phrases/ideas in this passage?

Here is how I would work>:

 

What is the primary purpose of this passage?

 

As I read, I realize that the article is about the origin of the London Tube. The author is not evaluating or questioning anything, but merely repeating facts. So, I would say that the primary purpose is to ‘describe the birth of the London Tube’. Now that I have this ‘pre-phrased’ answer in mind, I can eliminate other options and arrive at the right answer.

 

What is the organization of the passage?

 

Para 1 – how the Tube originated Para 2 – the construction of the Tube Para 3 – day 1 of operation Para 4 – outcome and reception

 

What is the author’s tone?

The author is reporting facts, but his tone is overall positive and approving as can be seen from the last paragraph in which he summarizes the outcome. A key indicator of tone would be ‘tremendous success’ in line 1 of paragraph 4.

 

What are the interesting words/phrases/ideas in this passage?

 

To me, the most interesting bits in the passage are in paragraphs 3 and 4, which describe the expected and actual outcome of the London underground. This information is sufficient for me to understand the passage sufficiently for now. The rest of my work depends on the questions I am posed, and the answer choices provided.

 

Do this exercise for 2-3 articles every day, preferably those with different themes. Over a period of time, you will see your ability to read and comprehend GMAT RC passages improving. Have questions on any part of GMAT RC? Please fill in the form and we will get back to you ASAP!

If you have taken the GMAT or have been preparing for it, you know that Reading Comprehension questions are a huge deal. A lot of it is about conserving your mental energy till the end.

Now that you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test, having a strategy on dealing with the Reading Comprehension questions is even more important.

This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog

GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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Reverse Causation in GMAT CR

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Assumption-based questions make up about 40% of the questions in GMAT CR. They test you on your ability to identify and understand the relationships – if any – that exist between the premises and the conclusion. Some of the tricky logical traps that assumption-based questions may contain are based on causality.

 

Today, we will look at Reverse Causation in GMAT CR.

 

Causation means that one event triggers or causes another. The direction of this causation (does X cause Y or vice versa?) is the trap that GMAT sets. Let me take an example:

 

Every day, at 9AM, Ramu the peon rings the school bell and Mrs.Mathews, the Principal, comes out of her room for the school assembly.

 

There are 2 events hereBoy_Thinking_1

 

Event X: Ramu rings the bell

 

Event Y: Mrs. Mathews comes out of her room

 

From this, can we assume that Mrs.Mathews comes out for the assembly because she heard Ramu ring the bell? i.e. can we assume that X is causing Y? It does seem reasonable, doesn’t it?

 

Now, think about this in a different way: Every day, at 9AM, the punctual Mrs.Mathews comes out for the assembly, and upon seeing her, Ramu the peon rings the bell. Also plausible? 🙂

 

This means that Y could be causing X.

 

Thus, a causal relationship exists between X and Y, but its direction needs to be evaluated.

 

Now let me take a GMAT CR question:

 

A researcher discovered that people who have low levels of immune-system activity tend to score much lower on tests of mental health than do people with normal or high immune-system activity. The researcher concluded from this experiment that the immune system protects against mental illness as well as against physical diseases.

 

The researcher’s conclusion depends on which of the following assumptions?lightbulb

 

The argument‘s conclusion is that ISA impacts mental health. We need to identify the underlying assumption. The correct answer to this question is option D: Mental illness does not cause people’s immune-system activity to decrease. This is a classic case of reverse causation.

 

Let us negate option D: Mental illness causes people’s immune system activity to decrease. If this were to be true, it means that mental illness impacts ISA and not vice versa. i.e. Y is causing X and not the other way round. This breaks the argument – since negation breaks the argument, option D is the right answer.

 

Key Takeaway

Whenever you see a cause-effect relationship between 2 events on a GMAT CR question, question its direction. Do not take for granted the direction apparently given in the question stem.

Direction

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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  • September, 17th, 2013
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8 Tips to Tackle GMAT Sentence Correction

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“I am able to eliminate 3 options in GMAT Sentence Correction very easily, but when I choose between the last 2 options, I always pick the wrong one!”

 

You will not believe the number of times I’ve heard students complain about this. 🙂 My answer is always the same,

 

“If you are stuck between A and B, and you think B is correct, but you have a history of picking the wrong option always – go ahead, pick A! That will solve your problem.”

 

I usually get an injured ‘how-can-you-make-fun-of-my-predicament?’ look.

 

The truth is – if you are stuck between 2 answer choices and get it wrong all the time, what it really means is that you are simply unable to identify what is wrong with the choice you picked. This is the underlying problem, and this is what you need to address.

 

Yes, SC can be really tricky – but this is also an area that can help you save time on the GMAT. Whereas many Critical Reasoning questions take up to 2.5 minutes to solve, many SC questions can be cracked in under a minute!

 

Here are some tips that will help you tackle this section better:

 

Identify what SC concept is being tested.

Every GMAT SC question will test at least 2 concepts: and you must be able to identify what these are. If you have no clue what concept is being tested, it means that you need to revisit your SC fundamentals! 🙂

For example, if the concept tested is parallelism, try to figure out what items should be in parallel. If it is modifiers, identify the referent of each clause and their correct placement.

Look for subject verb mismatches.

 

Subject Verb Agreement is one of the easiest errors to identify and in many GMAT SC questions, at least 1 option can be eliminated in this way. So look for these first.

 

Don’t get confused by pronoun ambiguity.

 

Don’t use pronoun ambiguity to eliminate answer options in the first go. Many official answers on the GMAT have pronoun ambiguity. Ambiguous pronouns are a problem only if the meaning of the sentence is affected because of the pronoun. Use this concept only if all else fails.

 

Don’t eliminate answer choices based on idioms right in the beginning.

 

This is because idioms can be confusing – especially when you are under pressure on the test. Secondly, the GMAT is itself ambiguous about the correctness of some idioms.

For example, ‘estimated at’ versus ‘estimated to be’. However, there are a few straightforward idioms, errors in whose usage are easy to identify. For e.g. whether versus if; such as versus like etc. You can eliminate choices on the basis of these without much trouble.

 

Don’t get misled by red herrings.

 

Just because 2 answer options begin with ‘not only’, doesn’t mean that the ‘not only but also’ construct is required in the sentence. The right answer may not use this idiom at all – so don’t jump to any conclusions.

 

Treat options A,B,C,D,E equally.

 

Even if you feel sure that a particular answer choice is right, don’t make up your mind till you have really looked at the other options.

 

Pick up clues from the non-underlined part of the sentence.

 

Often, the non-underlined part of the sentence can give you vital clues about tenses, lists, modifiers and meaning that will help you eliminate 1-2 answer choices. So never ignore this part.

 

meaning image

 

Answer choice A may not always get the meaning right.

 

Never ever assume that the sentence given in answer choice A has the intended meaning of the sentence. Read all the answer choices and make up your own mind about what the intended meaning is. This meaning trap can be seen especially at 700+ level questions.

 

Always substitute the choice in the original sentence.

 

Substitute the answer choice you picked back into the original sentence and see whether it makes sense.

 

Don’t go in with any blanket rules.

 

Every rule has exceptions! 🙂 Therefore, keep an open mind and do not eliminate any answer choice outright just because it contains ‘being’ or an ambiguous pronoun.

 

However, it is good to have thumb rules.

This means that there are some things that are usually wrong on the GMAT, and which would do you good to remember. For example, the GMAT prefers active voice over passive. It also prefers a concise statement over a wordy one. Use these to identify which answer choices you need to be wary about.

And of course, if you are stuck between the last 2 answer options and have already spent 90 seconds on the question, use one of these thumb rules to take your pick and move on! 🙂

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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  • September, 11th, 2013
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Tackling the To-verb/Verb-ing Dilemma in GMAT SC

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The choice between verb-ing and to-verb in GMAT Sentence Correction is something that has troubled test-takers forever. Though there are no blanket rules that will help you tackle questions that test this, there are certain guidelines you can follow to make the right choice.

 

General Usage Guidelines For To-Verb And Verb-Ing

 

To-verb: This is the short form of ‘in order to’ and is used to convey an intent or purpose. For example,

 

I practiced for nine hours every day to make my moves perfect. cool-green-tick

 

I practiced for nine hours every day for making my moves perfect. cross

 

What was my purpose? My purpose was to make my moves perfect. There is an objective/intent here – therefore, the to-verb form is appropriate.

 

For Verb-ing: This is used to answer the question ‘What for?’ For example,

 

Sandra was praised for showing presence of mind. cool-green-tick

 

Sandra was praised to show presence of mind. cross

 

What was Sandra praised for? Because she did something – she showed presence of mind. Hence, the verb-ing form is correct.

 

Let us look at this official question:guideline

 

New genetic evidence – together with recent studies of elephants’ skeletons, tusks, and other anatomical features – provides compelling support for classifying Africa’s forest elephants and its savanna elephants as separate species.

 

A. provides compelling support for classifying

 

B. provides compelling support to classify

 

What does the new evidence provide support for? It provides support for classifying Africa’s elephants as separate species.

 

There is no intent or purpose evident here. Therefore, A is the correct answer.

 

Now let’s take a look at another official question:

 

…the National Academy of Sciences has urged the nation to revamp computer security procedures, institute new emergency response teams. and create a special nongovernment organization for taking charge of computer security planning.

 

A. and create a special nongovernment organization for taking

 

B. and create a special nongovernment organization to take

 

What is the objective/purpose of the special nongovernmental organization? The purpose is to take charge of computer security planning.

 

Since a clear objective is evident here, option B is the correct answer.

 

Maintaining Parallelism

 

In some questions, the choice between to-verb or verb-ing may be dictated by the overall parallelism of the sentence (including the non-underlined part). The simple rule is this: if other parts of the sentence’s parallel structure use the verb-ing form, pick the verb-ing form; if these parts use the to-verb form, use the to-verb form.

 

Let me take an example:

 

Hundreds of species of fish generate and discharge electric currents…, using their power for finding and attacking prey, to defend themselves, or also for communication and navigation.

 

A. for finding and attacking prey, to defend themselves, or also for communication and navigationparallelism

B. to find and attack prey, to defend themselves, or to communicate and navigate

 

What do the fish use their power for? The fish use their power for finding and attacking prey, for defending themselves etc.

 

What is the objective behind the use of electric discharges? The fishes use their electric discharges to find and attack prey, to defend themselves etc.

 

Now how would you resolve this dilemma? 🙂

 

This is when you need to look at the sentence structure. Choice A has incorrect parallelism between ‘for finding and attacking’, ‘to defend’ and ‘for communication…’ However, choice B rectifies these issues and has accurate parallelism between ‘to find’, ‘to defend’ and ‘to communicate’. Thus B is the right answer.

 

Key Takeaway

 

There is no universal rule to choose between to-veb and for-verb-ing – it depends on the context. Check for intent/purpose, ‘what for?’ questions and parallelism before making your choice.

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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‘Because’ Versus ‘Due to’

BECAUSE GMAT
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though these 2 terms are often used interchangeably in everyday speech, they are actually different and must be treated differently on the GMAT.

 

The use of ‘Because’

 

‘Because’ helps answer the WHY question – why did something happen? For e.g.

 

The flight was cancelled because a storm was brewing.cool-green-tick

 

‘Because of’ modifies entire clauses and is used to explain the verb or the action described in the clause. The flight was cancelled because of the storm.cool-green-tick

 

The underlined clause in the above sentence is the action that is being explained.

 
 

The use of ‘Due to’

 

‘Due to’ is the equivalent of ‘caused by’ and can be used only to modify nouns. For e.g.

 

The show was a great success due to The Beatles playing the season’s hit numbers.cross

 

The show’s great success was due to The Beatles’ performance.cool-green-tick

 

The show’s great success was caused by The Beatles’ performance.cool-green-tick

 

The underlined word in the above sentence is the noun that is being explained.

 

On the GMAT

 
GMAT

 

Let’s look at this OG question:

 

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repairing due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing in the walls.

 

A. due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing

 

B. because moisture exhaled by tourists had raised the humidity within them to such levels that salt from the stone was crystallizing

 

Why were the pyramid chambers at Giza closed to visitors?

 

Option A implies that ‘moisture exhaled by tourists’ was the reason the chambers were closed. This is incorrect, as the ‘moisture’ is not the direct cause. An event happening as a result of this moisture exhalation is the reason why the chambers were closed.

 

Option B puts this right by saying that the chambers were closed because event X happened, X being the effects of the increase in humidity within the chambers as a result of the moisture exhaled by the tourists. Therefore, B is the correct answer.

 
 

Key Takeaways

 
key takeaways
 
‘Because of’ modifies verbs while ‘due to’ modifies nouns
 
Try replacing ‘due to’ with ‘caused by’ and see whether the sentence makes logical sense. If it doesn’t, it is probably incorrect.

 

Thus,

 

The meeting was postponed due to the Chairman’s unavailability.cross

 

The meeting was postponed because the Chairman was not available.cool-green-tick

 

The postponement of the meeting was due to the Chairman’s unavailability.cool-green-tick

 
 
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
 
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