GMAT Grammar Time: The Complete Consort Dancing Together

Need more GMAT tips?

The good news: This is a “dance” you can learn!

The GMAT Verbal section overall tends to focus less on individual words and more on the meanings of whole sentences.  When comparing the GRE vs the GMAT, vocabulary is essential on the GRE, but students need worry considerably less about vocabulary on the GMAT.  If GRE Verbal tests words, GMAT Verbal tests sentences.

The GMAT Sentence Correction expects you to recognize well-constructed sentences.  What is a well-constructed sentence?  The title, a line from the fourth of the Four Quartets by TS Eliot, gives Eliot’s rather fanciful description of a well-constructed sentence.  Let’s be a little more practical.

Of course, good grammar is essential.  The GMAT will expect you to have subjects and verbs agree, to use correct tenses, and to recognize the difference of that vs. which.  Every nugget of grammar has to be correct, but that’s just the start.

By way of analogy, part of a city planner’s job is to make sure every traffic light in a city is working, but getting each individual light working is only part of the challenge.  An effective city planner has to think about “higher level” issues — timing of the lights, patterns of congestions, etc.  How does the whole picture of city traffic, the “complete consort,” fit together?

Similarly, the GMAT expects you to analyze sentences not just at the level of grammar but at the higher levels of syntax and meaning.  Parallelism is a perfect example.  It’s hard to define parallelism precisely because it higher level — we can put individual words in parallel (noun, verbs, adjectives, etc.) or, as is much more typical for the GMAT, we can put entire phrases and clauses in parallel.  If we have structure such as “not only [phrase #1] but also [phrase #2]“, it’s not enough that each individual phrase be free of grammar mistakes —- the two phrases must “match” (e.g. both participial phrases, or both infinitive phrases).  Parallelism is about whether different parts are “dancing together.”

A very different issue of words “dancing together” concerns idioms. How important are idioms for GMAT Sentence Correction?  Very!  Here, we mean idioms in the sense of which words “belong” with each other.  For example, we would say “an ability to do X”, not “an ability for doing X” or “an ability in doing X.”

Higher level issues extend to logical problems, such as misplaced modifiers or pronouns with unclear antecedent.  Finally, the sentence overall must be work rhetorically — it must be unambiguous yet succinct, overall making a direct and powerful statement.  That, indeed, is the “complete consort dancing together”!

Part of achieving a good score on the GMAT entails mastering this hierarchy of sentence-construction skills.  How you learn this stuff?  It’s important to find a tried and true GMAT study schedule, and to avail yourself of the best GMAT material.

It’s important to read high-brow material, such as the Economist magazine.  With good materials and practice, this is a “dance” you can learn!

MBA 5 Fatal Flaws

MagooshThis post was written by Mike McGarry, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

Related Resources:

• That GMAT Score: Implications for Your MBA Application, free webinar
• The GMAT Score Preview and Application Boxes
• GMAT vs. GRE: Harvard Business School Weighs In

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The GMAT Score Preview and Application Boxes

Linda Abraham on the GMAT Score PreviewMBA applicants, pay heed: two major b-school admissions topics have been on Linda’s mind and in this week’s episode of Admissions Straight Talk, she shares the word.

Listen to the full recording of the show for some very important advice about the GMAT score preview and the growing significance of short application questions.

00:01:30 – The new GMAT score preview feature.

00:02:48 – Ravi’s mistake and 4 decisions to make before test day.

00:09:37 – The shrinking MBA application and the increasing importance of  short answers and boxes.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

*Theme music is courtesy of

Related Links:

•  Preview Your GMAT Score (from the official website of the GMAT)
•  The GMAT in MBA Admissions: Fact and Fiction
•  Get Accepted to Harvard Business School
•  Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business

Related Shows:

• GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep
• How to Edit Your Application Essays
• Linda Abraham on Overcoming Weaknesses

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Got GMAT Questions? Visit GMAT 101 for advice.

GMAT vs. GRE: Harvard Business School Weighs In

HBS’s admissions director, Dee Leopold shares a helpful post on how HBS approaches the GMAT versus GRE issue. I’ll preface this with her preface: Please don’t over-crunch!

In short, the HBS view is agnostic. It’s not about which exam or even the overall score, but about the component scores and how they play into the individual applicant’s profile. For example (and this is her example), an engineer with highly quantitative work won’t need to prove her quant score as much as she’ll need to show off her verbal abilities with a high verbal score (either GMAT or GRE). An English major, on the other hand, will need to step up the quant component of his exam (again, either one) to show that he’ll be able to handle the quantitative work he’ll encounter at HBS.

Here’s a little chart from the original post:

Check out our GMAT 101 Page for great advice and info!

While this data may cause some of you quant jocks to jump to the conclusion that HBS really prefers the GMAT, remember the preface: “Don’t over-crunch.” If you only look at the stats in the table, you may conclude that GMAT takers have a slightly higher acceptance rate and that the GMAT is “preferred.” However that increased rate is probably more reflective of the make-up of GMAT-takers versus GRE-takers. People in the business world who are only pursuing an MBA (and not other degrees) are more likely to take the GMAT. It’s possible that applicants with weaker scores may lean toward the GRE or applicants with liberal arts backgrounds (and weaker quant skills) may have already taken the GRE. Hence the lower acceptance rate may not reflect any preference on Harvard’s part, but more a preference in the applicant pool.

Last point: HBS applicants need to choose to submit either the GRE or GMAT – and not both.

For more info, see the original post.

Applying to Harvard Business School? Check out our HBS 2015 application tips!



Related Resources:

• GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep
• That GMAT Score: Implications for Your MBA Application, a free webinar.
• Harvard Business School Zone