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Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa

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Re: Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2019, 21:30
This was a really difficult question. Though I was able to mark the correct OA, felt this was a 700.
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Re: Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2019, 19:55
GMATNinja wrote:
I totally hate this question, and generally start cursing uncontrollably when my students miss it. But I'm cursing at the question -- NOT my students -- because I think the question is ridiculous.

But as usual: the GMAT doesn't really care what any of us think. Let's solve this SOB.

Quote:
(A) Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the same place;one reason is suggested by the finding that there are much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than in soils that are free of such chemicals.

"One reason is suggested by the finding..." Seriously, GMAT? Who the hell writes like that?!

But remember our two-step technique from the SC Guide for Beginners: eliminate DEFINITE errors first, then look for meaning issues. I don't think that this muddy mess is DEFINITELY wrong. The semicolon correctly separates two independent clauses, and the comparison seems OK.

"One reason is suggested by the finding" is awkward and wordy, in my opinion. But that's just my opinion, and my opinion doesn't matter -- and no matter how awesome you are, neither does yours.

Keep (A), perhaps while holding your nose.

Quote:
(B) If used repeatedly in the same place,one reason that certain pesticides can become ineffective is suggested by the finding that there are much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than in soils that are free of such chemicals.

I'm comfortable getting rid of this one right away, because of that very first phrase: "if used repeatedly in one place" would need to be followed by "pesticides," not "one reason." (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) If used repeatedly in the same place,one reason certain pesticides can become ineffective is suggested by the finding that much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes are found in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than those that are free of such chemicals.

(C) has the same issue as (B), plus that comparison seems a little bit off: "much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes are found in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than those that are free of such chemicals." "Than those" would be better if it said "than in those." (C) is out.

Quote:
(D) The finding that there are much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than in soils that are free of such chemicals is suggestive of one reason, if used repeatedly in the same place, certain pesticides can become ineffective.

This isn't horrible, to be honest. Well... actually, yeah it is, but so is (A). I don't think there's a DEFINITE error in (D), but the placement of "if used repeatedly in one place" is definitely suspect: it sounds like "one reason" is the thing that is used repeatedly in the same place. You basically have to re-read the whole thing to figure out that it's the pesticides that are used in one place.

More generally, I think you could make a (not super-convincing) argument that the sentence is so horrendously wordy that you lose track of the subject. "The finding (blah blah blah....) is suggestive of one reason...." In general, please be really careful with this sort of thing. Frankly, (A) is pretty wordy, too; (D) is arguably wordy enough that the meaning become unclear. That's a judgment call, and that's really not the way you want to think about SC, but it maybe adds a little bit of support to the idea that (A) is better than (D).

If you wanted to be conservative, you could keep (D), but I think that the modifier placement issue definitely tilts us toward (A). So (D) is out.

Quote:
(E) The finding of much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes in soils with a relatively long history of pesticide use than in those that are free of such chemicals suggests one reason certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the same place.

I actually really like the placement of "if used repeatedly in the same place" here. And I think we can make a similar (weak!) case about "wordiness" as in (D): there's a whole lot of stuff between the subject and the verb, and that makes things muddy. But again: you shouldn't be terribly convinced by arguments about "wordiness", and we should try to find something that's more solid, relating to either grammar or meaning.

And here's the big issue: "the finding of much larger populations of pesticide-degrading microbes..." We're really not talking about the "finding of microbes" -- that would refer to the act of seeing the microbes themselves. The "reason" that we're interested in is the finding that there are larger populations of microbes in some soils than in others.

And I know: that's subtle as all hell, but it definitely makes the meaning in (E) a little bit illogical. So we're left with a steaming pile of poo, otherwise known as answer choice (A).


--

Hi,

I drilled down to option A and D. I found both the options as awkward, but eliminated D as it is a run on sentence. but for the 'that' in option A, I was little confused.
In another thread you said "“that” is always singular when it’s being used as a pronoun". I actually noted this down to solve questions. But in this option A, 'that' is referring to plural... please suggest.
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Re: Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jun 2019, 14:38
Quote:
Hi,

I drilled down to option A and D. I found both the options as awkward, but eliminated D as it is a run on sentence. but for the 'that' in option A, I was little confused.
In another thread you said "“that” is always singular when it’s being used as a pronoun". I actually noted this down to solve questions. But in this option A, 'that' is referring to plural... please suggest.

Excellent question! Here's the distinction: as a conventional pronoun, we use "that" for singular entities and "those" for plural. For example:

    "Tim's phobias of sharks and dolphins are far more severe than those of his two-year-old daughter, who fears only broccoli and sleep."

"Those," in this case, is functioning as a pronoun, or a stand-in for another noun: we're comparing Tim's phobias with his daughter's phobias.

But as a modifier, we always use "that," even when we're modifying a plural noun:

    "The phobias that really crippled Tim mostly involved harmless sea creatures."

Here, "that" is functioning as a modifier describing Tim's phobias, rather than introducing a fresh set of phobias, as we did in the previous example.

The takeaway: we want "those" if we're using a pronoun as stand-in for a plural noun, and we use "that" if we're modifying a plural noun (or if we're modifying any noun).

I hope that helps!
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Re: Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jun 2019, 03:11
This question's source is "nytimes article". Can New York Times articles, sometimes rushed to meet the deadline, be considered as golden standard for GMAT SC?
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Re: Certain pesticides can become ineffective if used repeatedly in the sa   [#permalink] 29 Jun 2019, 03:11

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