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# According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the

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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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09 Nov 2017, 11:50
aceGMAT21 wrote:
r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. that they were

Hello Experts,

I have one question, if I replace the option B. than born with B. than were born --> Does this change makes option B correct? Please comment.

As per my understanding, the above sentence becomes,

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than were born under it.

This sentence is making the comparison logical. So, it seems correct to me. Please review.

mikemcgarry

Thanks.
-aceGMAT21

Dear aceGMAT21,

I'm happy to respond. My friend, here's what I'll say. First of all, please read this blog:
Dropping Common Words in Parallel on the GMAT

I'll also say that students who think of the GMAT SC as a test of grammar are mistaken. The GMAT SC always tests grammar and logic and rhetoric together--on a correct answer, those three elements come together coherently to produce meaning.

In this question, (C) is pretty bad, but I would say that (B) & (D) & (E) are arguably grammatically correct. Those three are simply awkward as a pig on roller skates! They are ugly and jarring. Adding another word to (B) does not make the problem any better--it's like giving a drowning man a glass of water.

Think about the sentence this way:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than babies that were born to women under the age of thirty.
That monstrosity would be the sentence if we repeated in the second branch of the parallelism every single word from the first branch. This is 100% grammatically correct, and despite this, it's an abomination so bad that it should be taken out back and shot.

The elegant thing to do, the rhetorically sound thing to do, is to drop all the repeated words in red--the last phrase gets replaced with a pronoun. The result of that action is (A). Choice (A) is sublime--it is an exquisite work of art, a masterpiece. In writing (A), the writer took the bold and decisive step of dropping every single repeated word, understanding that it all would be implied.

By comparison, the authors of (B) & (D) & (E) are lily-livered and irresolute, stuck in a wishy-washy halfway place, dropping some things and leaving others, awkward and incomplete because they were not able to make a bold decision.

Do you know what happens to people in the business world who can't make bold decisions? They lose money and squander opportunities.

It's very important to realize: how you do anything is how you do everything. Ultimately, success on the GMAT SC or CR or RC reflects the skills you will need for success in the business world.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2017, 00:21
r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. that they were

Just found wonderful explanation from another forum that helps me solved this problem :

1. We identify the words following comparison mark than : under it.
2. This sentence seems to compare two numbers of the baby delivered by two groups of women.
3. "Under it" or "under [the age of thirty]" can be directly compared with "over the age of thirty" in the left hand side.
4. Because other things on the left side are same "more babies were born to women", ellipsis can happen.

Thanks.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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21 Nov 2017, 05:16
GMATNinja wrote:
This is one of those classic comparison questions that can be really, really annoying if you’re not systematic and strict and literal with the meaning of the sentence. In my opinion, two of the WRONG answers sound better than the right answer. But my opinion doesn’t matter, and neither does “sound.” (Plus, who the heck starts having babies when they’re over the age of thirty? That’s really, really old. Oh, wait… crap. I’m over 30, huh?)

We also covered this one in a recent YouTube webinar on comparisons, so feel free to click here if you prefer your explanations in video form.

Before we look at the individual answer choices, hopefully the word “it” jumps out at you. It’s a singular pronoun, and… well, I guess it has to refer to “the age of thirty.” It’s really the only plausible singular referent, since “women” and “babies” are plural. And that’s one of the big keys to making sense of the question.

Quote:
A. than

So now we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under the age of thirty.”

I’ll be honest: I don’t love this answer choice. It sounds a little bit weird to me, but it’s also perfectly logical: the heart of the comparison revolves around the ages of the women. So I guess we have to keep (A), and see if there’s anything better down there somewhere.

Quote:
B. than born

(B) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under the age of thirty.” Wait, that arguably sounds OK, but it’s nonsense: literally, (B) is telling us that the BABIES were born under the age of thirty. I mean, sure: babies are definitely under thirty, but that’s not the point that the sentence is trying to make.

So (B) is out.

Quote:
C. than they were

In (C), we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under the age of thirty.”

First of all, what does “they” refer to? You could argue for either “women” or “babies”, but neither makes much sense:

• “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than babies were under the age of thirty.” → nope, that’s complete garbage
• “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than women were under the age of thirty.” → also very confusing nonsense

So (C) is out, too.

Quote:

(D) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than there had been under the age of thirty.”

Why would we use the past perfect tense “had been” here? When you think about the timeline, that doesn’t make any sense: the action in past perfect tense has to occur before another action in simple past. So this is literally saying that “there had been” babies born to women under the age of thirty BEFORE “babies were born to women over the age of thirty.” That makes no sense at all.

(D) is gone.

Quote:

I actually think that (E) sounds pretty good, but it’s wrong for exactly the same reason as (D): the past perfect tense is illogical in this situation.

Plus, we still have a pesky comparison issue, even if you ignore the verb tense problem: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under the age of thirty.” This is similar to the logical problem in (B): it sounds like we’re saying that BABIES were born under the age of thirty, and that’s clearly not what we’re trying to say.

So (E) is gone, and we’re left with (A). Whether you like the way it sounds or not.

Very well explained. I used to get confused with similar comparison type questions which looks pretty easy but in reality these questions are the one where i often get wrong.

Can you suggest some key rules or hint to overcome this problem?

Thanks.

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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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21 Nov 2017, 17:04
anirbandatta27 wrote:
Very well explained. I used to get confused with similar comparison type questions which looks pretty easy but in reality these questions are the one where i often get wrong.

Can you suggest some key rules or hint to overcome this problem?

Like most things on the GMAT, there aren't a whole lot of clear-cut rules that will ALWAYS apply to comparison questions. Just some general principles, especially the idea that you always want to think strictly and literally about what, EXACTLY, is being compared in each sentence.

If you haven't already, you might want to take a look at our YouTube webinars on comparisons -- basically, we cover a few of the key tools and principles, and then illustrate how to use them with a half-dozen examples. Here's comparisions part I, and here's part II.

I hope this helps!
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2017, 21:34
souvik101990 wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were

mikemcgarry ,sayantanc2k , RonPurewal , daagh ,GMATNinja ,egmat ,AjiteshArun -- In the given question, how do we determine what does the pronoun it stands for?
Do we find the antecedent of it using parallelism? -- since in the part preceding than , preposition 'over' is followed by the phrase "the age of thirty" and thus preposition 'under' is followed by it , which stands for the noun phrase "the age of thirty".

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

In general, a pronoun can stand any of the following - noun , object of preposition or the entire noun phrase?
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2017, 00:06
1
Skywalker18 wrote:
mikemcgarry ,sayantanc2k , RonPurewal , daagh ,GMATNinja ,egmat ,AjiteshArun -- In the given question, how do we determine what does the pronoun it stands for?
Do we find the antecedent of it using parallelism? -- since in the part preceding than , preposition 'over' is followed by the phrase "the age of thirty" and thus preposition 'under' is followed by it , which stands for the noun phrase "the age of thirty".

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

In general, a pronoun can stand any of the following - noun , object of preposition or the entire noun phrase?
1. I'd like to see what the others think about this, but (and I'm not sure whether I'm remembering this correctly) there is no rule for how a reader should identify the antecedent in this situation. Parallelism is a technique that can be used (for example) to lead the reader to associate the pronoun with the correct noun, but it is not a rule. For example (ignore the scientific details):

Even the scientists who study the surface of Europa feel that life is more likely to be found above the galactic plane than under it.

In this sentence, the parallelism strongly suggests that the author is trying to say
(a) Even the scientists who study the surface of Europa feel that life is more likely to be found above the galactic plane than under the galactic plane.

and not
(b) Even the scientists who study the surface of Europa feel that life is more likely to be found above the galactic plane than under the surface of Europa.

If the reference is reasonably clear (the logical noun exists), we should just ignore the pronoun altogether and focus on the more important concepts. Use pronoun ambiguity only if you have to decide between (let's say) a couple of options and don't see a more reliable way to break that tie.

2. Yes, a pronoun can refer to any of those things.

a. Europa's surface is made of ice.
An it here would most likely refer to the noun phrase Europa's surface (and not Europa). However, this is not an absolute rule.

b. The presence of water will be confirmed.
An it here would most likely refer to the noun phrase the presence of water. However, that it could also refer to water.

c. Liquid water is essential.
An it here would refer to the noun phrase liquid water. Keep in mind that the it would not refer to just water.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2017, 02:21
1
Quote:
In the given question, how do we determine what does the pronoun it stands for?

the INTENDED antecedent of a pronoun (= what the pronoun "should" stand for) is just a function of CONTEXT + COMMON SENSE.

like other "shoulds" in sentence correction, this is not a grammar issue at all.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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09 Dec 2018, 14:44
r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were

POE:

A) Correct
B) This makes it sound like the sentence is trying to say "more babies were born to women over age of thirty than babies born under age of thirty". Since all babies are born under 30, this doesn't make much sense.
C) Who is THEY referring to?
D) THERE needs to point to a location or place. There is no antecedent here. Also past perfect needs another marker of time to create some sort of sequence in the sentence. That does not happen here
E) Same as D
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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15 Feb 2019, 04:03
[quote="r019h"]According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were

look at choice B.
the cut off part must be ONE phrase not 2 phrases.
we can not make the full sentence as
than "babies were " born "to women under age of thirty".
in this "babies were" and "to women under age of thirty" are 2 phrases separate. we can not make ellipsis this way. the cut off part must be one phrase

choice B allow us to make the following

than "baby were born under age of thirty".

this is not logic clearly

choice A allow us to make the following

than "babies were born to women " under age of thirty

this is logic

we can cut off "babies were born to women" . this is ONE phrase, not two phrases.

choice A is right
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2019, 22:36
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A.than

B.than born

C.than they were

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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2019, 22:37
daagh why shouldn't we use Born after Than
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2019, 22:38
SupreetReddy wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A.than

B.than born

C.than they were

Discussed here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/according-to ... fl=similar
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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15 Aug 2019, 12:16
SupreetReddy wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A.than

B.than born

C.than they were

Merged duplicate posts. Please search the forum before posting a question! (see Rules to post on the Verbal Forum)
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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29 Sep 2019, 21:48
GMATNinja wrote:
This is one of those classic comparison questions that can be really, really annoying if you’re not systematic and strict and literal with the meaning of the sentence. In my opinion, two of the WRONG answers sound better than the right answer. But my opinion doesn’t matter, and neither does “sound.” (Plus, who the heck starts having babies when they’re over the age of thirty? That’s really, really old. Oh, wait… crap. I’m over 30, huh?)

We also covered this one in a recent YouTube webinar on comparisons, so feel free to click here if you prefer your explanations in video form.

Before we look at the individual answer choices, hopefully the word “it” jumps out at you. It’s a singular pronoun, and… well, I guess it has to refer to “the age of thirty.” It’s really the only plausible singular referent, since “women” and “babies” are plural. And that’s one of the big keys to making sense of the question.

Quote:
A. than

So now we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under the age of thirty.”

I’ll be honest: I don’t love this answer choice. It sounds a little bit weird to me, but it’s also perfectly logical: the heart of the comparison revolves around the ages of the women. So I guess we have to keep (A), and see if there’s anything better down there somewhere.

Quote:
B. than born

(B) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under the age of thirty.” Wait, that arguably sounds OK, but it’s nonsense: literally, (B) is telling us that the BABIES were born under the age of thirty. I mean, sure: babies are definitely under thirty, but that’s not the point that the sentence is trying to make.

So (B) is out.

Quote:
C. than they were

In (C), we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under the age of thirty.”

First of all, what does “they” refer to? You could argue for either “women” or “babies”, but neither makes much sense:

• “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than babies were under the age of thirty.” → nope, that’s complete garbage
• “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than women were under the age of thirty.” → also very confusing nonsense

So (C) is out, too.

Quote:

(D) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than there had been under the age of thirty.”

Why would we use the past perfect tense “had been” here? When you think about the timeline, that doesn’t make any sense: the action in past perfect tense has to occur before another action in simple past. So this is literally saying that “there had been” babies born to women under the age of thirty BEFORE “babies were born to women over the age of thirty.” That makes no sense at all.

(D) is gone.

Quote:

I actually think that (E) sounds pretty good, but it’s wrong for exactly the same reason as (D): the past perfect tense is illogical in this situation.

Plus, we still have a pesky comparison issue, even if you ignore the verb tense problem: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under the age of thirty.” This is similar to the logical problem in (B): it sounds like we’re saying that BABIES were born under the age of thirty, and that’s clearly not what we’re trying to say.

So (E) is gone, and we’re left with (A). Whether you like the way it sounds or not.

Hello GMATNinja,

Is "more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than TO under it" correct ?
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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29 Sep 2019, 22:00
egmat wrote:
Hi there,

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

It is important to understand the intended meaning of the sentence.
• This sentence presents comparison. We need to find out what are the entities that are compared here.
• In 1998, Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to woman who were over the age of 30 than to those woman who were under the age of 30.
• The entities compared here the woman over 30 and woman under 30.

Now let’s see what the Errors are in this sentence:
Now there is just one word underlined in this sentence. The idiom used in this sentence is “…more babies are born to X than Y”. Here X and Y should be parallel.
X = woman over the age of thirty (noun phrase)
Y = (woman) under it (it = the age of thirty)
Since bot the entities are parallel here, there is no error in this sentence.

PoE:

A. than: Correct for the reason stated above.

B. than born: Incorrect. This choice leads to illogical comparison. Per this choice, entity Y = (babies) born under it (it = the age of thirty). This means the babies were under the age of 30. This is absolutely non-sensical.

C. than they were: Incorrect. Firstly, pronoun “they” is ambiguous here. If “they” refers to “babies”, then also it leads to illogical meaning and if “they” refers to “women”, then also lead to illogical meaning.

D. than there had been: Incorrect. This choice uses the incorrect verb tense as well as presents illogical comparison.

E. than had been born: Inocrrect. This choice repeats the verb tense error of choice D and illogical comparison error of choice B.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.

Hello egmat

Is "more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than TO under it" correct ?
Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the   [#permalink] 29 Sep 2019, 22:00

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