GMAT: SC “Modification” Question of the Day!

“Modification” on the GMAT refers to words, phrases, or clauses that function as descriptors. Some modifiers include adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc. Try this Sentence Correction question on your own, then review the correct answer below!

No matter how patiently they explain their reasons for confiscating certain items, travelers often treat customs inspectors like wanton poachers rather than government employees.

(A) travelers often treat customs inspectors like wanton poachers rather than government employees
(B) travelers often treat customs inspectors as wanton poachers instead of government employees
(C) travelers often treat customs inspectors as if they were not government employees but wanton poachers
(D) customs inspectors are often treated by travelers as if they were wanton poachers rather than government employees
(E) customs inspectors are often treated not like government employees but wanton poachers by travelers

The main error here is one of modification. An opening clause describing an action with a comma at the end of it must be immediately followed by the person or thing DOING the action.

“No matter how patiently they explain their reasons for confiscating certain items,” is the opening clause here. We can ask, who is logically doing the “confiscating”? It wouldn’t be the travelers, since it’s illogical that they would confiscate their own belongings.

Based on this logic alone, we can eliminate A, B, and C.

For E, there are several issues. “By travelers” is far from its verb “treated” and has faulty parallelism. Since the first part of the idiom begins with “like”, we would want “like” to follow the word “but” as well.

That is why the correct answer is (D).

GMAT CR: “Resolve the Argument” Practice Question

In September of last year, the number of people attending movies in theatres dropped precipitously. During the next few weeks after this initial drop the number of film-goers remained well below what had been the weekly average for the preceding year. However, the total number of film-goers for the entire year was not appreciably different from the preceding year’s volume.

Which of the following , if true, resolves the apparent contradiction presented in the passage above ?

A) People under the age of 25 usually attend films in groups,rather than singly.
B) The gross income from box office receipts reamined about the same as it had been the preceding year.
C) For some portion of last year , the number of people attending movies in theaters was higher than it had been during the previous year .
D) The number of people attending movies in theaters rises and falls in predictable cycles .
E) The quality of films released in September and October of last year was particularly poor.

Explanation:

– In Sept, # of attendees dropped
– In Oct, # of attendees stayed below previous year’s weekly avg
– TOTAL number of filmgoers was not different from previous year

Question: How come?

Prediction: The months outside of Sept/Oct made up for the drop & allowed the year to remain consistent

A – irrelevant
B – irrelevant, we’re talking filmgoers not $$
C – boom, matches our prediction!
D – potentially, but more vague than C
E – irrelevant, we’re talking # of people not quality

Clearly it comes down to C and D. C is my choice since it most closely matches our prediction.

Tough GMAT: “Idiom” Sentence Correction – Problem of the Day!

Try this Idiom question from the Official Guide!

That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault: Alvin Toffler, one of the most prominent students of the future, did not even mention microcomputers in Future Shock, published in 1970.

(A) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault
(B) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said to be at fault
(C) It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators who have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology
(D) It can hardly be said that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology
(E) The fact that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said


Think of “that educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputers technology” as one long noun. We could replace it with something like “This fact….” If we did that the original sentence would read:

This fact can hardly be said that it is their fault.

“that it is their fault” is incorrect. Something is “said TO BE” something, idiomatically. It would need to read, “can hardly be said TO BE their fault.”

Thus, A is eliminated.

E takes a different approach. If we replaced the full noun again with “this fact,” the sentence would read: “This fact can hardly be said.” This meaning is unclear. The focus is not that this fact literally can’t be said; the focus is that there are no grounds for saying the educators are at fault.

Looking at D, it makes it very clear what “can hardly be said” by neatly putting the noun-verb “educators are” after the “that.” Everything starting with “for…” is a long prepositional phrase that we could eliminate.

D would then read: “It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators.” Clear, concise, logical. The correct answer is (D).

GMAT Problem of the Day: Drawing Conclusions on CR

This harder critical reasoning question requires us to draw our own conclusion based on information provided in the question-stem. Set a timer for 2 minutes, then dive in! Scroll down to check your work against my explanation!

At Legal Services, LLC last year, the average annual salary for attorneys was $75,000, while the average salary for paralegals was $50,000. The average annual salary for all Legal Services, LLC employees was $45,000.

If the information above is correct, which one of the following conclusions can properly be drawn on the basis of it?

A) There were twice as many attorneys at Legal Services, LLC as there were paralegals last year.
B) There were more paralegals than attorneys at Legal Services, LLC last year.
C) There were two attorneys and three paralegals at Legal Services, LLC last year.
D) There was at least one Legal Services, LLC employee who earned less than the average paralegal earned last year.
E) At least one paralegal made less than $50,000 last year.

Here’s how I broke it down:

Conclusion: Avg. annual salary for ALL employees was $45,000

Evidence: avg sal attorneys is $75,000, and avg. sal paralegals is $50,000

Assumptions: Average = Total Sum / # of terms, so the average of the attorneys and the paralegals together would be $60,000. Since the average salary is less than that, then there must be significant # of employees who are making less than $45,000.

Question Rephrase: What is TRUE based on the evidence?

Prediction: There must be some more poorly-paid employees.

The answer is (D).

(B) is incorrect because it does not HAVE to be true that there were more paralegals than attorneys. There could be the exact same number of paralegals as attorneys. What is weighting the average down to $45,000 is the fact that there is an unaccounted for number of employees making LESS than what the paralegals make.

GMAT CR: “Strengthen” Question of the Day!

Check out this challenging question from the GMAT paper tests offered by GMAC:

Potato cyst nematodes are a pest of potato crops. The nematodes can lie dormant for several years in their cysts, which are protective capsules, and do not emerge except in the presence of chemicals emitted by potato roots. A company that has identified the relevant chemicals is planning to market them to potato farmers to spread on their fields when no potatoes are planted; any nematodes that emerge will soon starve to death.

Which of the following, if true, best supports the claim that the company’s plan will be successful?

(A) Nematodes that have emerged from their cysts can be killed by ordinary pesticides.

(B) The only part of a potato plant that a nematode eats is the roots.

(C) Some bacteria commonly present in the roots of potatoes digest the chemicals that cause the nematodes to emerge from their cysts.

(D) Trials have shown that spreading even minute quantities of the chemicals on potato fields caused nine-tenths of the nematodes present to emerge from their cysts.

(E) The chemicals that cause the nematodes to emerge from their cysts are not emitted all the time the potato plant is growing.

Conclusion: Nematodes = pest; spreading chemicals on fields = starving nematodes

Evidence: They emerge b/c of potato root chemicals; company going to market chemicals to potato farmers

Assumptions: -Nematodes do something bad to the potato; Nematodes will ONLY damage potatoes; the chemicals will not cause any secondary damage to potatoes

Question Rephrase: What will make the plan STRONGER?

Prediction: Proof the nematodes will die (chemicals are effective), that this will effectively protect potatoes with no secondary damage

(A) – Weakens. Makes the chemicals less valuable.

(B) – Weakens. Makes the nematode less dangerous.

(C) – Weakens. Shows chemicals are GOOD for potatoes.

(D) – Strengthens. Shows the chemicals are effective!

(E) – Weakens. This does not relate since the chemicals will be put on fields with no potatoes planted yet.

The correct answer is (D).

GMAT: Sentence Correction Question of the Day!

Try this stumper from Kaplan on your own, then check your work!

Question:

The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

A. The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

B. It seems odd that the name of the twelfth month of the year, “December,” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” until you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months.

C. The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realized that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

D. It makes perfect sense that the word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, so it’s logical.

E. Since December is the twelfth month of our calendar year, it seems odd that the word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

Explanation:

So what’s the easiest way to eliminate here? By noticing that the pronoun “it’s” it ambiguous since it could refer to either “December” or “ten” so A, C, and D are out. Between B and E, E is clearly the more wordy and muddled choice meaning-wise. B is correct.

GMAT CR: Resolve the Argument practice question

This problem is from the GMAC paper tests. Try it on your own, then scroll down for my explanation!

A requirement of traditional pension plans is that an employee work for a company a number of years before gaining full rights to benefits from the company’s plan on retirement. Companies used this requirement to help them retain employees, but recent regulations have substantially reduced the number of years of work a company can require. Nevertheless, companies have not experienced any significant loss of employees.

Which of the following, if true, helps to explain why companies are not experiencing problems in retaining employees?

(A) As the number of years an employee has worked for a company increases, the rate at which the company contributes to the employee’s pension benefits increases.
(B) Potential employees prefer to work for companies that offer them pension plans rather than for those that do not.
(C) Most companies that do not offer traditional pension plans offer plans in which their employees enjoy rights to retirement benefits as soon as they enter employment.
(D) An employee is more willing to leave an employer after gaining full rights to pension benefits than before gaining such rights.
(E) Employers have always been reluctant to lose highly trained employees.

Let’s take apart the argument here:

Conclusion: Companies have not experienced significant loss

Evidence: None given

Assumptions: There is another reason the company hasn’t lost employees, despite the new regulations that reduce the # of years required for a pension

Since no evidence is given, we can predict that there is one of two reasons for the lack of employee loss:

Either there is another reason the employees are staying OR the requirement of years is not in fact as strong an incentive on employee continuation as previously thought.

(A) is correct because it shows why the employees wouldn’t care if the pension plan changed. It’s much better in the long term to have a rate that is constantly shifting higher from year-to-year under the new regulations, than to get a set amount after a set number of years. This choice means more money for the employees.