If you want to master the GMAT or GRE, you must not overlook the importance of English grammar to your overall score. Sure, the math, or “quant,” sections are difficult for most students and require extensive preparation, but some believe that scores on verbal sections contribute more heavily to your overall score.
For both tests, you will need an advanced understanding of English grammar, not just for the verbal sections, but also for the reasoning and critical thinking sections as well. Both tests require you to write in English, and those scores are not based solely on the message, but on the delivery as well.
English grammar use in GMAT
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is composed of four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal. A thorough knowledge of English grammar is crucial to your score on three of these sections, with only the quantitative section relying more on other skills, mostly math.
Of the sections testing English grammar skills, the verbal section will test it the most. It is subdivided into three sections: reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. According to GMAT, the verbal section:
measures your ability to read and understand written material, to evaluate arguments, and to correct written material to conform to standard written English.
Sample GMAT English grammar question
Here is an example of a GMAT English grammar question in the category of sentence correction https:
While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.
- Cost associated with
- Costs associated with
- Costs arising from
- Cost of
- Costs of
English grammar use in GRE
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is composed of three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. You must have mastered English grammar to get a good score on two of these three sections: verbal reasoning and analytical writing. Only the quantitative section relies almost solely on math skills.
Of those two sections that require excellent English grammar usage and identification, the verbal reasoning section will likely test proper English grammar the most. There are three types of questions in the verbal reasoning section: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence.
According to ETS, the company that makes and administers the GRE, the verbal reasoning section measures your ability to do the following:
- Analyse and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative, and author’s intent;
- Select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarise text; understand the structure of a text; and
- Understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts
Sample GRE English grammar question
Here is an example of a GRE English grammar question in the category of sentence equivalence:
Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterise the work as __________.
Answer: (C) and (F)
Explanation: The word “Although” is a crucial signpost here. The work contains some pioneering ideas, but apparently it is not overall a pioneering work. Thus the two words that could fill the blank appropriately are “original” and “innovative.” Note that “orthodox” and “conventional” are two words that are very similar in meaning, but neither one completes the sentence sensibly.
Studying English grammar
Studying English grammar for the GMAT or GRE Sentence structure means not only studying the eight parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections), but also their proper placement in sentence structure. This includes being able to decipher word meanings and draw reasonable assumptions about the text.
Native vs non-native English speakers
Overlooking the study of the nuances of English grammar is a mistake made by both native and non-native English speakers alike. Native English speakers may feel that just because they have spoken the language all their life, their ability to correct sentence fragments or verb tenses, for example, will come easily and naturally. They may take this knowledge for granted, assuming they will do fine.
Check out: What Do GMAT and GRE Essays Assess?
Non-native English speakers may feel at a competitive disadvantage, but this is not always the case, either. This group has the advantage of having dissected the basics of English grammar rules regarding sentence structure and pronoun usage, for example, while learning the language itself. A native English speaker, for example, talks in complex sentences long before learning the definitions of words like verbs or adjectives.
So do not make the mistake of many and neglect English grammar in your preparation for the GMAT or GRE. It is not just important; it is absolutely crucial to getting a good score on either test. There are plenty of preparatory testing services available to you, both online and in person, both paid and free. Take advantage of some of these resources to help you better prepare and get a higher score overall.