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The difference between TOEFL and GMAT SC grammar


Erin
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This is such a common question that I decided to make a new post for it.

 

Both TOEFL grammar and GMAT Sentence Correction grammar are both based on Standard Written English (SWE), but the difference comes when we are answering these questions. When we answer GMAT SC questions, we need to think about meaning, ambiguity, redundancy, and other things; when we answer TOEFL grammar questions, we are normally looking only for a grammatically correct pattern (save those questions, for example, in which we must choose between "although" and "because").

 

For example, some GMAT SC questions make you choose between "in which" and "where/when" (which many students learn are equivalent), but we never have to do that on the TOEFL.

 

Examples

 

Look at the following example of a TOEFL-like question:

 

New York, which is the largest city in the United States, serves as the center of commercial for the country.

 

Okay, before we proceed, let's get the correct answer out of the way--commercial should be changed to commerce. This is a word form question--"commercial" is an adjective; "commerce" is a noun, and we need the noun form here to function as the object of the preposition "as."

 

Now, here's how to tackle the problem:

 

First, we should understand that TOEFL asks us simply for what is correct; GMAT asks us for what is best. There's a big difference. So, if you know we're working at the TOEFL-level of SWE (Standard Written English), then you would first notice that "commercial" is definitely wrong, and you would choose your answer confidently. However, some people, if they are confused about which level of SWE we are working at, might spend some time thinking about whether "which is" is redundant. It is in fact unneccessary in this sentence, but we need to remember this: if it's grammatically correct, it's acceptable on the TOEFL. Knowing that should ease your burden a bit, I think.

 

Now, GMAT SC wouldn't give you exactly the same question, but they could test the same grammar point in a similar way. And the way GMAT would test it, I think it would be obvious that they were targeting redundancy/superfluity. Here's what this question would look like were it to appear on the GMAT Sentence Correction Section:

 

New York, which is the largest city in the United States, serves as the center of commerce for the country.

 

(A) which is the largest city in the United States

(B) being the largest city in the United States

© because it is the largest United States city

(D) the largest city in the United States

(E) larger than all American cities

 

D is the answer. I don't want to get into why in this thread (not the point of the thread), but you should see clearly that GMAT is focusing on this grammar point in this question.

 

Finally, we should remember one more important thing--the TOEFL is designed to target trouble areas for non-native speakers; GMAT SC is designed to target trouble areas for native speakers. Many of the errors you see on the TOEFL are very simple ones for native speakers, and are not challenging at all. GMAT SC, on the other hand, can be challenging for native speakers.

 

 

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Dear Erin, :)

[/size]Many thanks for your work and your site.[/size]

 

Day by day I realize that the more I come in this forum, the more knowledge I get, and more importantly, I turn out to be more confident.;) And I have changed my homepage in my PC's Internet Explorer to your forum for days. [^]

 

To tell you the truth, TOEFL learning facilities in Vietnam are not so good as those in many other countries.

 

But now thank to your kindness and patience I can get the most for my TOEFL prep.

 

Really I don't know how to express my deep thank to you and my sincere wish for your work. So forgive if I use the most common one

Thank you very much.

 

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  • 6 months later...

Thank you Erin for the great piece of information.

But does your example of a GMAT question mean that there could be grammatical mistakes in the sentence : New York, which is the largest city in the United States, serves as the center of COMMERCIAL for the country. Or is it just a typo?

 

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Originally posted by Hippo

 

Thank you Erin for the great piece of information.

But does your example of a GMAT question mean that there could be grammatical mistakes in the sentence : New York, which is the largest city in the United States, serves as the center of COMMERCIAL for the country. Or is it just a typo?

 

[:o)] :o Ooops! It's a typo. I'll correct it.

 

Thanks for pointing this out!

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