Why Knowledge Is No Longer Power

Sentence Correction

Even today, lions can be seen ruling the African plains, hunting almost any animal that crosses its path and intimidating all but the most intrepid hunters.

(A) lions can be seen ruling the African plains

(B) lions are able to be seen ruling the African plains

(C) lions rule the African plains

(D) the lion rules the African plains

(E) the lion species rules the African plains

Most test-takers know that the GMAT tests pronoun agreement (its vs. their, it vs. they) frequently in Sentence Correction.  But truly savvy test-takers know that the GMAT likes to hide it at times – while an average-level question might include “its” in two answer choices and “their” in three, more-challenging questions will fix the pronoun outside the underline, forcing you to infer for yourself that it’s a pronoun problem.  Here, “its” is fixed outside the underline, meaning that “the lion” has to be the subject.  And since an animal can’t cross a species’ path, only an animal’s path, the correct answer is D.

Again, more important than any one question is the takeaway – when you see a pronoun fixed outside the underlined portion, that’s a pretty big clue that you’ll be asked to make a singular/plural distinction somewhere in the answer choices.  Looking for clues – pronouns, words that signify time (“since”, “from”, “after”), etc. – will help you to quickly identify the decision that the question is asking you to make, and will guide that decision for you.  Yes, some grammatical rules are important to know, but like a town with money or a horse with a spinning wheel, if you don’t know what to do with that knowledge you’re sunk.

How can you implement this toward success?  Don’t focus you energy solely on learning and mastering content.  Make sure that when you go through questions you don’t simply walk away with “what” (what did you need to know?) but also “how” (how were you supposed to determine that you could use that rule or principle?).  And since most people are used to studying “what” but a lot less accustomed to studying in terms of “how”, you should make a concerted effort to emphasize “how” as you study.  Remember that knowledge is an increasingly small part of the battle nowadays, but knowing when and how to act on that knowledge is in short supply and high demand. The GMAT offers you a chance to show schools and future employers that you have that ability.  Show them that you know how to use it.

Brian Galvin will run the free seminar

Brian Galvin will run the free seminar

Brian Galvin is Director of Academic Programs at Veritas Prep, a GMAT prep and graduate school admissions consulting provider. This is his second column for Poets&Quants.com. His contrarian views appear monthly.


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