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How to tackle every single GMAT SC Problem

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How to tackle every single GMAT SC Problem


- Manhattan GMAT Blog

Here’s our framework again:

Image

The new image of Stone Age people as systematic hunters of large animals, rather than merely scavenging for meat, have emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, including three wooden spears that archaeologists believe to be about 400,000 years old.

(A) merely scavenging for meat, have emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, including

(B) as merely scavenging for meat, have emerged from examining tools found in Germany, which include

(C) as mere meat scavengers, has emerged from examining tools found in Germany that includes

(D) mere scavengers of meat, has emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, which includes

(E) mere scavengers of meat, has emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, including


Ready?

Image

Glance: What have we got?

than merely

I’m wondering what the than is a part of, so my eye goes a little further back:

rather than merely

Ooh—comparison! What about the beginning of the answers?

“(A) merely scavenging

“(B) as merely scavenging

“(C) as mere meat scavengers,

“(D) mere scavengers

“(E) mere scavengers”

All right, we’ve got an X rather than Y comparison structure. We’re going to have to figure out what the X is and that will indicate what form we need to choose for the Y. (You may decide to jot down X rather than Y to remind yourself to address this issue.)

Time to Read the sentence! What’s it saying?

“The new image of Stone Age people as systematic hunters of large animals, rather than merely scavenging for meat, have emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, including three wooden spears that archaeologists believe to be about 400,000 years old.”
Strip that down to the core:

The new image of (some) people as X, rather than Y, have emerged from the examination (of tools).

Image

What do you notice?

Wait a sec: there’s an error in the core sentence! You can choose to stick with the original comparison issue, or you can switch gears and Work on the subject-verb issue first. I’m going to do the latter:

The new image have emerged.

No way! Image is singular, so it should say the new image has emerged. Say goodbye to answers (A) and (B).

Answers (C) through (E) are all okay on this point, so now loop back around. Luckily, we’ve already identified the second potential issue: that comparison.

The new image of (some) people as systematic hunters of large animals, rather than Y, have emerged from the examination (of tools).

X is hunters (of large animals), so Y should be in the same noun form. Hmm. This is another reason to get rid of (A) and (B), but (C) through (E) all use the proper match, scavengers.

Aside: I’m not thrilled with mere meat scavengers in (C). I’d prefer mere scavengers of meat, as in (D) and (E). But there isn’t a strong grammatical reason why I couldn’t use mere meat scavengers, so I’m going to ignore that and look for something else. Loop around again!

Now, when you’re down to a small number of choices, compare the remaining answers, looking for differences. There are a couple, but they’re all actually part of a big modifier, so I recommend looking at them as one big chunk:

“(C) … from examining tools found in Germany that includes

“(D) … from the examination of tools found in Germany, which includes

“(E) … from the examination of tools found in Germany, including”
The three structures at the end are used for three types of modifiers.

That includes, in (C), signals an essential noun modifier: the modifier must be included in the sentence or the basic meaning of the core sentence will be nonsensical.

Further, the noun should be as close as possible to the modifier. In this case, the noun Germany is right before the comma. Logically, the modifier should refer to tools. In certain circumstances, it is possible to have a short separation of the noun and the modifier—but is it okay in this case to say that the that includesmodifier refers back to tools, with a short found in Germany modifier in between?

Try it out:

… from the examination of tools that includes …

Oops. No, it’s not possible in this case because tools is plural and includes is singular. Logically, the modifier points to tools, but structurally it points to the singular Germany (or maybe even the singular examination?). None of these works; eliminate (C).

Can you use the same reasoning to eliminate either (D) or (E)?

Yes! Answer (D) changes the modifier to the non-essential structure comma which includes, and this modifier has the same problem: includes would have to be plural in order to point to tools. Eliminate (D).

But wait a second. Answer (E) doesn’t seem to be doing what it’s supposed to be doing either. It uses a comma –ing modifier:

The new image of (some) people as X, rather than Y, has emerged from the examination of tools found in Germany, including (some spears).

A comma –ing modifier refers back to the entire preceding clause, but is it really the case that the three spears refer back to the image has emerged from the examination?

We’ve just uncovered one of the few exceptions to the general comma –ing rule: when using the word including, the sentence really can just be giving examples of something (usually a noun) that was named shortly before the comma. Unlike the modifiers in answers (C) and (D), the including modifier in (E) does not contain a verb that needs to match the noun tools, so there are no problems with the construction.

Key Takeaways


Key Takeaways for Every Problem You Will Ever Do:

(1) First, see whether a quick look can give you an early idea of what the question may be testing. On SC,glance at the word right before the underline and at the first word of the underline: any clue markers there? Next, compare the first word or two of each answer choice: do the differences signal any particular issues?

(2) Next, Reflect on what you’ve been given and Organize your thoughts. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot more than one potential issue to tackle. In that case, pick the issue that you think is the easiest or most straightforward.

(3) When you know you’ve got an error, cross off that answer choice and any others that repeat the same error. Once you’ve finished dealing with the first potential issue, you’ll likely still have more than one answer left, so it’s very useful if you came up with two ideas to start. Now you know exactly what you’re going to tackle next!
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Re: How to tackle every single GMAT SC Problem [#permalink]

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New post 14 Oct 2015, 21:00
Nice article; must stick for a good length of time
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Can you solve at least some SC questions without delving into the initial statement?

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Re: How to tackle every single GMAT SC Problem [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2017, 02:14
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: How to tackle every single GMAT SC Problem   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2017, 02:14
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