Never before had circus-goers confronted so much excitement at once as they had in 1871 when the Ringling brothers first opened their circus.
A. so much excitement at once as they had in
B. at once as much excitement as
C. at once as much excitement that there were with
D. as much excitement at once as they confronted in
E. so much excitement at once that confronted them in
One of the most useful techniques for solving Sentence Correction problems is using splits among the answer choices to narrow down your options.
In this case, (A) and (E) start with "so much," (B) and (C) start with "At once," and (D) starts with "as much."
Well, "so much" doesn't work here. (D) looks better, because of the correct idiomatic structure "as much....as." "So much...as" means something completely different, and is incorrect in this context.
Now, (B) and (C) do both use "as much...as," but they move the modifier "at once." Well, "confronted at once ________" is just awkward; it isn't the correct place. That's enough to rule out those two choices, but both make grammatical errors as well; (B) compares "excitement" with "1871" due to an improperly constructed comparison, and (C) uses "were" to refer to the uncountable singular "excitement."
Either way, we've ruled out every choice, so (D) is correct!
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