Sentence Correction Approach on the Entrance Tests

cat verbal

Sentence correction questions appear in the Verbal section of the ENTRANCE TESTS exam.The Verbal section uses multiple-choice questions to measure your ability to read and comprehend written material,to reason and evaluate arguments,and to correct written material to conform to standard written English.Because the Verbal section includes passages from several different content areas,you may be generally familiar with some of the material;however, neither the passages nor the questions assume detailed knowledge of the topics discussed.Sentence correction questions are intermingled with critical reasoning and reading comprehension questions throughout the Verbal section of the exam.You will have 65 minutes to complete the Verbal section, or about 2 minutes to answer each question.


Sentence correction questions present a statement in which words are underlined.The questions ask you to select from the answer options the best expression of the idea or relationship described in the underlined section.The first answer choice always repeats the original phrasing.Whereas the other four provide alternatives.In some cases,the original phrasing is the best choice.In other cases, the underlined section has obvious or subtle errors that require correction.These questions require you to be familiar with the stylistic conventions and grammatical rules of standard written English and to demonstrate your ability to improve incorrect or ineffective expressions.


You should begin these questions by reading the sentence carefully.Note whether there are any obvious grammatical errors as you read the underlined section.Then read the five answer choices carefully.If there was a subtle error you did not recognize the first time you read the sentence,it may become apparent after you have read the answer choices.If the error is still unclear, see whether you can eliminate some of the answers as being incorrect.Remember that in some cases,the original selection may be the best answer. 


Let us begin at the beginning. It may seem a bit pedagogical, but it is in our best interest to brush the fundamentals before we look into problems and their advanced applications.


Sentence Correction Terminology:


  1. Noun: a word that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action and can function as the subject or object of a verb, or as the object of a preposition.
  2. Pronoun: a word that functions as a substitute for a noun.
  3. Preposition: a word, such as ‘in’ or ‘to’, or a group of words, such as ‘in regard to’, that is placed before a noun or a pronoun and indicates a grammatical relation to a verb, adjective, or another noun or pronoun.
  4. Adjective: a word that modifies a noun. Adjectives are distinguished chiefly by their suffixes, such as -able, -ous, and -er, or by their position directly preceding a noun or noun phrase.
  5. Verb: a word that expresses action, existence, or occurrence.
  6. Adverb: a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
  7. Phrase: two or more words occurring in sequence that form a grammatical unit that is less than a complete sentence.
  8. Clause: a group of words containing a subject and a verb that form part of a sentence.


Anatomy of a Sentence Correction Problem:


Directions: The question presents a sentence, part of which or all of which is underlined.  Beneath the sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part.  The first of these repeats the original; the other four are different.  If you think the original is best, choose the first answer; otherwise choose one of the others.




Dirt roads may evoke the bucolic simplicity of another century, but financially strained townships point out that dirt roads cost twice as much as maintaining paved roads. (Original sentence)


  1. dirt roads cost twice as much as maintaining paved road (Repeats the original)
  2. dirt roads cost twice as much to maintain as paved roads do
  3. maintaining dirt roads costs twice as much as paved roads do
  4. maintaining dirt roads costs twice as much as it does for paved roads
  5. to maintain dirt roads costs twice as much as for paved roads


IMS Methodology for Sentence Correction on the Entrance Tests


Each question contains a sentence of between thirteen and 54 words (with part or the entire sentence underlined) and five answer choices.  


Sentence Correction calls on your ability to identify and analyze sentences for clarity and proper grammar.  Questions appear in order of difficulty based on how well you are doing on the exam.  


Address every Sentence Correction problem with a series of questions:


  1. Is the sentence correct?  
  2. If yes, read through all the answer choices briefly to confirm.  If you are still confident that the original sentence is correct as written, click the first answer choice and move to the next problem.  
  3. If no, work through the checklist.  You should skip “I” and examine “M” (modifiers) first, then continue in order: “P” (pronouns), “A” (agreement), “C” (comparisons), “T” (tense), “S” (sentence construction), and, finally, “I” (idioms).




Two new studies indicate that many people become obese more due to the fact that their bodies burn calories too slowly than overeating.


  1. due to the fact that their bodies burn calories too slowly than overeating
  2. due to their bodies burning calories too slowly than to eating too much
  3. because their bodies burn calories too slowly than that they are overeaters
  4. because their bodies burn calories too slowly than because they eat too much
  5. because of their bodies burning calories too slowly than because of their eating too much


The error is an “S”.  The members of a comparison (more X than Y) should be expressed in parallel form. D, the best choice, correctly uses parallel clauses introduced by because. The clauses themselves are clear and direct. Choice E uses parallel forms, but the convoluted structures are awkward and wordy. 


Furthermore, the word bodies would need an apostrophe (bodies’) since it is the logical subject of the gerund burning (that is, it answers the question, “Whose burning?”). A, B, and C do not use parallel forms for the two members of the comparison.


In addition, A and B use due to un-idiomatically to mean because; properly used, due to is synonymous with attributable to.


The ENTRANCE TESTS always prefers the sentence that expresses intended ideas most clearly and succinctly. Although style is not usually the only thing that makes an answer choice correct, you can often use style elements such as brevity, redundancy or altered intent to eliminate wrong answer choices.




“Past experience reveals that cancer patients rarely ever exhibit the exact same symptoms.”


Better: Experience reveals that cancer patients rarely exhibit the same symptoms


The phrases ‘past experience’, ‘rarely ever’, and ‘exact same’ are redundant and make the sentence unnecessarily wordy and awkward. 




“Being excited about her upcoming graduation, Kelsey could barely focus on her final exams.”


Better: Excited about her upcoming graduation, Kelsey could barely focus on her final exams


The word ‘being’ almost always indicates a redundancy and an incorrect answer choice.


You should avoid wordiness and redundancy as far as possible. Remember the ENTRANCE TESTS prefers simplicity and clarity.


Altered intent:


In the process of correcting grammatical errors in a sentence be careful not to change the original meaning.


“Red wine, the finding of recent studies, may prevent serious heart problem in many adults.”


“Recent studies have found red wine to prevent serious heart problems in many adults.”

“Recent studies have found that red wine may prevent serious heart problems in many adults.”


The Entrance Tests outlook into Grammar Skills


A noun, as the “Schoolhouse Rock” song would have it, is a person, a place, or a thing. “Piece o’ cake, well, a qualified piece o’ cake.” We have to define thing broadly enough to include things that aren’t particularly thingy. 


“Heat” is a noun; “January” is a noun; “innovation” is a noun; “asperity” is a noun.


Linguists use the term noun phrase to refer to any word or group of words that’s used as a noun: his far-seeing eye, for instance, is a single noun phrase, even though it’s made up of a possessive pronoun (his), an adverb (far), a participial verb (seeing), and a noun (eye). 


 I’ve disavowed any intention of using the terms of contemporary linguistics in this guide (not because they’re bad, but because they’re likely to be unfamiliar to my readers), but this one is worth knowing.




  • Idioms are not hard and fast rules of grammar. 
  • Idioms are fixed expressions, groups of words that are used together.
  • There is really no rule that applies to these expressions-the conventions of English simply demand that they be phrased a certain way.
  • Idiom errors often show frequently in sentence correction
  • The most effective way to learn idioms is to practice them.




The following list contains the idioms most frequently tested on the ENTRANCE TESTS.

  • About 
  • worry… about

Example:  If you worry too much about the ENTRANCE TESTS, you will be stressed. 

  • For 
  • Responsible for 

Example: You are responsible for the child. 

  • From 
  • Prohibited…from 

Example: He was prohibited from entering the public library. 

  • Different …from 

Example: Democrats are not so different from republicans in the United States.

  • Over 
  • Dispute over

Example: The men had dispute over the money.

  • As
  • Define…as 

Example: My ENTRANCE TESTS teacher defines the conclusion as the main point of the argument.

  • regard…as

Example: Art historians regard the Mona Lisa as one of the greatest Works of Art.

  • Not so …as

Example: He is not so much smart as cunning.

  • Think of …as 

Example: Think of it more as a promise than a threat.

  • See …as 

Example: Many people see meditation as an escape from pain.

  • The same …as 

Example: Mom and Dad gave the same punishment to me as to you.