Just thought I'd weigh in on this one, since the official answer seems to be lacking.
The answer is A. In C, the "during" is unclear, because it makes it sound as if WE are seeing them NOW as if we were seeing them during the formation of the universe. This isn't the intended meaning of the sentence.
In D, the comparison is incorrect. It makes it sound as if they appear to us NOW as they appeared to us during the formation of the universe. But we weren't there back then. Sadly. E does this in an even more egregious way.
In A and B, we have to choose between the past tense and the past perfect. However, we should only be concerned about the tenses in the independent clause that comes after the semicolon. The only verb there is "see" which is in the present, so we only need to use the simple past tense to express an action occurring BEFORE the "see" action. The only time we would need past perfect would be if we had a verb in the clause that was already in the past tense, and we wanted to express an action occurring before THAT.
Hope that helps!
Quasars are so distant that their light has taken billions of years to reach the Earth; consequently, we see
them as they were during the formation of the universe.
(A) we see them as they were during
(B) we see them as they had been during
(C) we see them as if during
(D) they appear to us as they did in
(E) they appear to us as though in
Tommy Wallach | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | San Francisco
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