As part of my attempt to make the official repository of all things related to SAT, ACT, and GMAT grammar, I’ve posted lists of preposition-based idioms for those tests. (For now, they’re the same as the ones in my SAT, ACT, and GMAT grammar books, but I will update them if I come across additional tests with other examples.)

For SAT/ACT idioms, click here.

For GMAT idioms, click here.

Now, before anyone gets too excited, I feel obligated to issue the following disclaimer: preposition-based idiom questions are the very last question types you should spend time studying for, particularly if you are not a native English speaker.

In other words, you should be consistently answering every other question type correctly before you devote serious time to memorizing long lists of idioms.

Unlike other question types, idiom-based questions have absolutely no underlying logic. None. The answer is the answer because English happened to evolve one way and not another, end of story.

Also: there is no way to predict which idiom(s) will appear on a given test. The fact that consist of was tested on a particular exam does not mean that it will appear again soon, or even ever again. In contrast, you can be pretty sure that questions targeting pronoun agreement, dangling modifiers, and parallel structure will show up regardless of when you happen to take the test.

And: in the case of the GMAT, some questions may only appear to test idioms but be answerable by other means. (The GMAC does have a set of non-preposition-based idioms that it tests regularly, but I’ll cover them in a separate post.)

With that said, idiom questions do of course show up, and if they are the only thing standing between you and your score goal, then yes, they’re probably worth spending some time on.