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Top Ten Most Common GMAT Idioms

UPDATE: You can find this blog and others about idioms in our new GMAT Idiom eBook!

On the GMAT, very few concepts are more daunting than idioms. There are several reasons for this. First off, there are literally hundreds of them to memorize. Secondly, and related to the first point, many are arbitrary. For instance, we regard X as, but we do not consider X as, or for that matter to be (see below).

Indeed, idioms have been known to change over time. A preposition that is considered (remember no ‘as’ or ‘to be’) barbaric in a formal context can, as long as it is bandied about enough, eventually be accepted as correct usage. Of course you do not need to learn the history of idioms, simply which idioms are likely to show up on the GMAT, especially in Sentence Correction.

Even then, not all 500 possible idioms are weighted equally. Some are more likely to show up than others. So without further ado, here are the top 10 idioms you have to know for the GMAT.

 

Require that X be Y

Correct: The new regulations require that prospective employees be
subjected to rigorous screening.

Incorrect: The new regulations require prospective employees to be subjected to rigorous screening.

 

Estimate to be

Correct: The fossils are estimated to be more than 65 million years old.

Incorrect: The fossils are estimated as more than 65 million years old.

 

Prohibit X from Y

Correct: The ban will prohibit those without adequate documentation from purchasing guns.

Incorrect: The ban will prohibit those without adequate documentation to purchase handguns.

 

Believe X to be Y

Correct: Astrophysicists believe the recent disturbances in radio transmissions to be a result of solar flares.

Incorrect: Astrophysicists believe that the recent disturbances in radio transmissions to be a result of solar flares.

 

Consider X Y (no ‘to be’)

Correct: Most musicologists consider Joseph Haydn the father of the sonata.

Incorrect: Most musicologists consider Joseph Haydn to be the father of the sonata.

Incorrect: Most musicologists consider Joseph Haydn as the father of the sonata.

 

X expected to Y

Correct: Tax rates are expected to increase next year.

Incorrect: Tax rates are expected to be increasing next year.

 

Not only…but also…

Correct: Idioms are not only difficult to memorize but are also easy to mix up.

Incorrect: Idioms are not only difficult to memorize but are easy to mix up.

 

Neither…nor…

Correct: Studies show that neither studying alone nor studying in groups is optimal.

Incorrect: Studies show that neither studying alone or in groups is optimal.

 

Just as…so too…

Correct: Just as caffeine can boost arousal so too can vigorous walking.

Incorrect: Just as caffeine can boost arousal vigorous walking can also.

 

Prefer X to Y

Correct: The blue macaw prefers lush tropical habitats to the dry climate found in the southeastern part of Brazil.

Incorrect: The blue macaw prefers lush tropical habitats over the dry climate found in the southeastern part of Brazil.

 

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