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GMAT Tips – GMAT Sentence Correction Question Type: Modifiers

Today’s GMAT Tip comes to us from Kaplan. In this article, Kaplan GMAT instructor Bret Ruber provides helpful advice on answering Sentence Correction questions with modification errors:

Of all of the common errors that appear in the sentence correction portion of the GMAT, modifiers are usually the last type for which test-takers look.  However, modification errors are among the most common types of errors on the GMAT and finding these errors right away can often lead you directly to the correct answer.

When checking for modifier errors, you should keep in mind that the GMAT will feature three kinds of modifiers.  The first is adjectives.  Adjectives are used to modify nouns.  For example, in the phrase, “the blue chair,” ‘blue’ is an adjective modifying the noun ‘chair.’

The second is adverbs.  Adverbs are used to modify all parts of speech except nouns.  Therefore, adverbs will be used to modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.  Adverbs are usually created by adding ‘ly’ to the end of an adjective.  For example, the adjective, “quick” becomes the adverb, “quickly.”

Whenever you encounter a modifying word on the GMAT, make sure it is in the correct form (adjective vs. adverb) and that it is unambiguous – you should know without a doubt what is being modified.

The final type of modifier that appears on the GMAT is the modifying phrase.  Modifying phrases are dependent clauses that usually show up at the beginning of a sentence.  These phrases must be immediately followed by whatever it is they are modifying, and this type of question is the more common type of modifier issue you’ll see on test day.  To see this in action, look back to the first sentence of this article.  The phrase at the very beginning (‘Of all…’) is not an independent clause and is followed by a comma.  It is therefore a modifying phrase.  Because the phrase refers to the word ‘modifiers,’ that word must come directly after the comma.  If, instead, the sentence were changed so that the comma was followed by, ‘students usually look for modifiers last,’ the sentence would be incorrect, as the initial phrase does not refer to ‘students.’

By watching out for all three types of modifiers you will be able to quickly move through many sentence correction problems and the test more efficiently.

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