are not hard and fast rules of grammar. habits and preferences that have become ingrained
in the English language after many years and decades of repeated use.
But just because they're not rules doesn't mean we can use
them any way we choose to; in fact, idioms can be one of the most
difficult subjects for students to handle, as the GMAT includes many
different idioms, each of which adheres to its own specific rules.
To prepare for idiom questions, take a look at the list of common
idioms below, split them into two lists – those you know, and
those you don't know – and memorize the ones you don't
know. It can also help to start reading every day, as idioms appear
in almost every kind of reading material available.
for these common tricks on GMAT questions:
as, think of...as: there
is no as after consider, while both
regard and think of need the as.
To be/being: In
general, avoid the construction to be/being because
they are usually passive. To be/being are commonly
used in junk answer choices.
Idioms in Bold tend to be
more common on the GMAT.
The company has access to large capital reserves.
The poison pill in the contract acts as a preventative
measure against hostile takeovers.
The design of the robot arm allows for great
Chocolate tastes as good as ice cream.
He associates beer with potato chips.
The poor first quarter results are attributed
to the restructuring.
a responsibility to
The CEO has a fiduciary responsibility to all
a result of
The recent Nasdaq decline is a result of higher
a sequence of
The Sumerian text was a sequence of incomprehensible
The Teamsters do not agree with the Republicans
on many issues.
among Used when discussing more than two items.
was the finest policeman among the hundreds of rookies.
as good as/or better than
The new software is as good as or better than
anything on the market.
as great as
The new house looks as great as I had hoped.
attend to (someone)
The emergency room doctor attended to the injured
attribute X to Y/X
We attribute the results to the new management.
attributed to Y
The extinction of the dinosaurs has been attributed
to an asteroid collision. Back
The results are based on a comprehensive ten
He will begin to study twelve hours before the
believe X to be Y
After seeing the flying saucer, I believe UFOs
to be a real phenomenon
between Used when discussing two things (if there are more
than two, then use
among instead). He could
not decide between Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran. Back
How much do business schools care about your
centers on + noun
The GMAT centers on the knowledge of basic math
and writing/reading skills.
The number of students who choose to go to business
school has increased in the last ten years.
Your grades are not consistent with your abysmal
He contends that the GMAT has a cultural bias.
consider + noun
How important do you consider the test?
continue + to
If you continue to study, you will succeed.
contrast A with B
If you contrast A with B, you can see the difference.
You may convert muscle to fat if you study too
compare A to B
Compare to stresses similarities. The
music critic favorably compared him to Bob Dylan.
compare A with B
Compare with stresses differences. Broccoli
is good for you compared with ice cream.
count on + noun
He counts on management support.
They are concerned with investor relations more
than actual profitability.
When you work at a new company, you should try
to conform to its corporate culture. Back
We decided to continue.
We decided on the new format.
The global economy depends on improving productivity.
The CAT is very different from the paper and
Many students find the CAT difficult to take.
distinguish between X and Y
Distinguish between domestic and international
distinguish X from Y
Juries must attempt to distinguish truth from
depends on whether
Our place in the playoffs depends on whether
we win tonight. Back
to be + essential to + noun
Speed is essential to success in the Internet
He did well on the GMAT, except for the sentence
construction questions. Back
The convict fled from the country. Back
Dell Computer grew from a start-up to a Fortune
500 company in less than fifteen years.
grow out of
Needless to say, they quickly grew out of their
first office. Back
help + noun + to
Their direct business model helped them to grow
Dell's recent stock trouble may indicate that
their growth will not continue to be as rapid.
He is too risk-averse to invest in the stock
His DNA is identical with his twin's.
in contrast to
The candidate claims to support tax cuts, in contrast to
his prior statements.
The Federal Reserve Board is supposed to be independent
from political considerations.
Some countries are indifferent towards human rights. Back
Rapid growth often leads to problems.
Usually used only for direct comparison:
walks like Joe walks.
Most Internet venture capital is localized in
a few areas of the world. Back
mistook + noun + for
I mistook you for an old friend.
The judicial building is modeled after the Parthenon.
more than ever
Companies demand MBA graduates now more than
There is a unique business culture native to
a native of
It infects those who are not even a native of
Living in New York City is an experience everyone
needs to try.
to be + necessary + to
It is necessary to get a high GMAT score to get into Stanford.
Neither Tom nor Sam has the necessary skills to finish the
not only...but also
Stanford not only has the highest GMAT average, but also
the highest GPA. Back
prohibit from + gerund
You are prohibited from using a calculator on
A graduate of a top business school has the
potential to make over $100,000. Back
range from X to Y
The GMAT scores at top business schools will
range from 650 to 750.
If you have any more questions, you should refer
to a grammar book.
Wharton's finance program is regarded as the
finest in the world.
require + noun + to
You require a GMAT score to go to most U.S. business schools.
rivalry between X and Y
The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York
Yankees is one of the most celebrated in professional sports.
The manager is responsible for seven entry level employees.
The tax policy change is retroactive to last year. Back
Save for William, no one else passed the exam.
Many people use business school to save them
from dull jobs.
So should not be used as an adjective:
GMAT preparation is so... boring. Use it with
"that." This guide is designed so that you may raise
Business school students should subscribe to
the Wall Street Journal. Back
The contract should be tied to concessions.
The communications system will transmit to anyone
within range. Back
used + infinitive
Japan used to be the model industrial economy.
to be + used to + gerund
After five practice tests, he was used to the
GMAT CAT format. Back
Whenever you get an idiom question wrong, write down the idiom. Make
a list, and memorize it. There are a finite number of idioms that
could be tested on the GMAT, and with enough practice, you should
be able to cover most of them. Once again -
the most effective way to learn idioms is to practice them.
1. When choosing a car you often have
to choose (between/among) practicality and performance."
"Between" is correct.
Use "between" to distinguish two things, such as "practicality"
and "performance." Use "among" for more
than two things: "The five bank robbers divided the stolen
money among themselves."
2. A small order of french fries has
(fewer/less) fries than the super-sized order.
"Fewer" is correct. "Fewer" answers the question
"How many?", while "less" answers the question
"how much?". That is, "fewer" refers to things
that can be counted (birds, airplanes, french fries, blades
of grass), and "less" refers to things that can't be counted
individually, and are usually referred to en masse, such as pudding,
water, or flour.
3. I prefer Mozart (to/over)
the proper expression.
4. Timothy talks (like/as)
his friends do.
This is one of the few instances
"like" should be used in English. "Like" is
used here as a direct comparison.
5. He was studying (in/at)
a rate of two practice GMATs per day.
The proper expression is "at
a rate of," not "in a rate of."
6. The joint-venture contract covers
such questions (like/as) the division of profits
as" is better here . "Like"
should be used very rarely, only for direct comparisons (Joe looks
like his brother).
7. Dan Marino is regarded (as/to
be) one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play football.
The proper idiom is "regarded
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