Knewton Brutal GMAT Question Challenge – Week 11 Feature Edition

by on June 2nd, 2010

Guest Post by Joanna Bersin

Hey, since there’s been so much sensation across so many nations about the Brutal Math Challenge – here’s a verbal ditty. No worries; it’s still brutal. And we’re still playing for the shirt. Explain your answer.

The policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared to the European Union’s members’ in 2000, which imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen it for the purpose of remaining competitive with trading partners outside of the EU.

(A) The policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared to the European Union’s members’ in 2000, which imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen it

(B) The policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared with the policy applied by the European Union’s members in 2000, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

(C) When it was compared with that enforced by members of the European Union in 2000, the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania and that were less strict, were imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

(D) Compared with that enforced by members of the European Union in 2000, the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that was enforced in Lithuania was less strict, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosened

(E) In 2000, Lithuania, compared with the members of the European Union, had a policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced less strictly, since it imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed tightening in order that they would harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen

43 comments

  • IMO answer is B.

    Strategy Used: Elimination
    Option A:
    taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania
    That is not clearly referencing the noun (taxes or policy)

    Also, in the statement:
    when compared to the European Union’s members’ in 2000

    It should be policy enforced by European Union and not directly EU

    Option C:

    that were enforced in Lithuania and that were less strict

    Taxes were less strict when compared with that of EU's policy. Option C misses that.

    Option D:

    Redundant use of "That"

    Option E:
    In 200, Luthiana

    The starting of the sentence itself dismisses this option. 2000 actaully refers to the EU's policy year.

  • Answer:D

    its the only option in which all the phrases make complete sense and link up to each other

    • Great job vn; you were the first poster to answer correctly! Scroll down to see my post for the full explanation. You've won a free t-shirt; e-mail Abby@knewton.com to receive your prize!

      Joanna, Knewton

  • Answer B via elimination.

    Errors in others were far too obvious. Don't think this SC was that brutal! I would be suprised if the answer is not B. OA please Josh / Joana!

    • The answer is D here. Just asking? Doesnt B leave a grammatical error in which one cannot state for certain if the policy imposin tax and tariffs is Lithuania or the EU's?

      Thanks

      Anshul

    • @RC..This is really a challenege!! Now after seeing many responses for D..i am totally messed up!!And when D turns out to be the answer, I will be a ignominious kid on the couch!

  • Pick B.

    Let us first figure out why should we pick B?

    (B) The policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared with the policy applied by the European Union’s members in 2000, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

    Here, the main subject " The Policy" is singular and calls for a "singular verb". "Was" is the singular verb reffering back directly to the singular subject.

    Secondly usage of " Compare to & compare with" is tested.

    Compare to - is used to liken two things or to put them in the same category. You should use "compare to" when you intend to simply assert that two things are alike.Use "compared to" to illustrate that two things are similar

    Compare with - is used to place two things side by side for the purpose of examining their similarities or differences. Use "compared with" to illustrate the differences a comparison draws.

    Here in B "Compared with" is promptly used.

    Usage of "rather than" is better to create comparison than the usage of "not to"

    the pronoun " them" has to refer back to a "plural" noun as in B. "them" correctly refers back to " requirements.

    Usage of "like vs including " is also tested. Here the value added tax and excise duties are a part of the indirect tax system and no comparison is made among them.

    • C, D , E have whole lot baggage of errors. Poor/ awkward construction in all three of them.

      E has verb- shift error. Moreover E says Luthiana is compared with EU. But the intended comparison is between the policy of applying indirect taxes.

      E changes the complete/ intended meaning.

      In D, we can see a verb shift error.The whole event happens in "present" tense. But D means to say it all happened long before, say "past tense.".

      In B,"applying,loosening,remaining"....all stands in same form present continuous.

    • THEM can refer to EU's requirements too, can it not? THEM is ambiguous over here.

    • D

      idiom used is x rather than y

      In B tightened is not parallel to loosening

      Correct me if I am wrong

  • Now let us figure out why Other options are NOT the "Right answers"!!
    Lets start with A:

    1. Subject - Verb Mismatch /conflict.
    2.Improper usage of "like" when no such comparison is intended
    3.Improper usage of "Compared to " where "compared with" would have been precise.
    4.Improper reference of "which". Here in A it intends that EU has imposed a law that has lot loopholes/less strict., whereas the intended meaning is
    Lithuania need to tighten its Law to harmonise itself with EU.
    5. Again a Mismatch of Pronoun Reference. "it" refers back to requirements. Uffff..How can a singular pronoun can refer back to a plural noun?

    A seems to hell lot of mistakes..Guys if u find more plz do add them!!

  • the ans has to be D as it corrects 2 problems in the stimulus
    1: wrong comparison(comparing policy with tax and excise duties)
    2: it makes the sentence active rather than the passive to be construction

  • IMO B

    A - "like" is wrong in this sentence

    C - "When it was compared with that.." pronoun errors and a host of others

    D - "loosened".."compared with that...." pronoun errors and a host of others

    E - Sounds as if Lithuania undertook the activity in the year 2000. "it" pronoun reference error

  • B.
    A , D & C are eliminated bacause of 'like'.
    between B & E , B is correct since the subject phrase "policy of applying
    direct tax" has the modifiers in the right place.

  • A: "Which" after the comma erroneously refers to the year 2000. Parallelism not maintained in the last part, both should have been in subjunctive mood - "To be tightened" & "Not to loosen it". Eliminate.

    B: "Loosening THEM" Them is ambiguous, and could refer to the requirements. Eliminate.

    C: Unnecessary use of "When", When should be used to denote a time period. "Were imposing tax rules" does not agree with subject "Policy". Eliminate

    D: Sounds about right.

    E: Lithuania is compared with members of European union. The first "THAT" is not used right. "They" is ambiguous. Eliminate.

  • i think it is D.

    A - "The policy of... that were" - S/V mismatch
    B - "tightened ...rather than loosening" - parallelism error
    C - "the policy of ...that were" - S/V mismatch
    D - seems ok... wordy, but correct
    E - "needed tightening... and not to loosen" - parallelism error

    please feel free to support/ ridicule my answer :)

    • I think D is correct.

  • My answer is D.

    A) "that were enforced" is incorrect because policy is singular
    "Compared with" is preferred instead of "compared to"
    B) "policy applied by the European Union" is not parallel to "policy of applying indirect taxes"
    the modifier "imposing tax rules" does not exactly modify 'the policy enforced in Lithuania"
    C) "that were enforced" is incorrect because policy is singular
    D) D is gramatically correct and concise
    E) "That were enforced" is incorrect because policy is singular

  • IMO B.

    Original Sentence Error : example need to be provided using phrase "such as" rather than "like". So Eliminate A,C,D

    Between B and E
    In Ans E:
    The phrase "compared with the members of the European Union" does not modify or describe the noun "Lithuania". But that phrase is important for the meaning of the sentecne.
    That leaves Ans B.

  • My take is B. Let me explain my reasons for eliminating other answer choices.

    A) 'Loosen it' the word 'It' represents pronoun mismatch. 'It' is supposed to refer to the taxes and tariffs and hence supposed to be in plural form. 'It' on the other hand represents singular objects.

    C) Subject verb error. "the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania and that were less strict, 'were' imposing tax rules". The verb 'were' refers to the singular subject 'the policy' and hence wrong.

    D)Again a Subject verb error. "the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, 'that was' enforced in Lithuania was less strict". Note 'That' is a relative pronoun and refers to the nearest complete noun. In this sentence the nearest complete noun is indirect taxes. Hence here 'that' refers to indirect taxes which is plural in form. Hence we need the verb 'were'(plural) and not 'was'- singular.

    E)the conjunction 'and' always combines to independent sentences. The statements- since it imposed tax rules and tariffs that needed tightening in order that they would harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen - 'and not to loosen' is not an independent clause and hence eliminated.

    • My pick is D. Reason is mentioned below.

      a. Ambiguous pronoun reference. If I understand the sentence correctly, "that" should refer to "policy", which is singular, therefore we need to have "that was".
      Usage of "when compared to ..." is wrong, because it seems that comparison is done in year 2000.
      "needed to be tightened ..and not to be loosen" - awkward construction. There should be contrast, so rather than would be good to replace with.

      b. "enforced in .." is modifying "taxes and duties"- wrong.
      "when compared to .."- wrong usage.
      "needed to be tightened ...rather than loosening" - wrong comparison

      c. "when compared with ..in 2000" -wrong usage
      pronoun reference is wrong. "that was" should be used for "the policy".
      "to be tightened ...rather than loosening" -wrong comparison

      d. correct

      e. "in 2000, the policy is applied. the intent of the sentence is changed.
      Pronoun ambiguous. "that was" should be with "the policy".
      "needed tightening ...rather than loosen" -wrong comparison.

  • IMO B.

    There are hell lotta errors in the original sentence. Using POE:

    Valued added tax and excise duty are examples of indirect taxes. Hence we need 'such as' instead of 'like'. Using this rule we can eliminate A, C, and D.

    In E, 'it' has no clear antecedent. Eliminate E.

    We are left with B, which is clear in meaning.

    -VK.

    • B is the right answer. D is convoluted and indirect, including incorrect comparisons. B clears up the original problem - subject/verb agreement.

  • Choice D is correct.

    There is one common mistake that we can use to eliminate some answer choices :

    1. some of the answer choices (A, C, and E) contain relative pronoun "that were enforced", suggesting that it refers to the "indirect taxes". However, it doesn't sound logically correct. Tax cannot be enforced. What can be enforced is the policy. Thus, the correct relative pronoun would be "that was enforced", and we are left with answer choice B and D.

    2. choice B is out because of the incorrect use of "rather than". Rather than should be used to compare two actions. In this case, the actions being compared are "tightened" and "loosened", both modifying the "tax rules and tariffs. Remember that what is being compared needs to be parallel. In addition, adding "them" after "loosening" would not make any sense because the phrase following "rather than" would be considered a part of the relative pronoun. Therefore, it is not necessary to add "them" to refer to the modified noun (tax rules and tariffs).

  • Great stuff, guys.

    The answer is D.

    Vn- congrats on being the first poster to get the question right.

    Great job everyone eliminating A; the verb "were" in the adjective clause "that were enforced" does not agree with the singular "policy," and "tightened...and not to loosen it" is not a parallel comparison (great job Vivek!) between the two actions that could be applied to the "tax rules and tariffs."

    Govardhan gives a great description of the "compared to/with" distinction, which is quite subtle; "compared with" generally highlights differences, whereas "compared to" points out similarities.

    There's a lot underlined here, and a great strategy when there's so much going on is to focus on what's tested. We know that there is some sort of subject/verb agreement issue to watch out for and that there is a comparison at the end of the underlined portion. It seems as though many of you picked right up on the S-V agreement error and eliminated choices C and E. Many of you also picked up on the pronoun errors and awkward constructions in these options.

    Here comes the B versus D battle that's going on here. The other thing to notice about this sentence, as stated before, is this "rather than." As SOON as you see "than," look for a correctly formed, parallel, logical comparison.

    Let's check out the different things compared in B and D:

    "tax rules and tarrifs that..."
    B) needed to be TIGHTENED...rather than LOOSENING THEM
    D) needed to be TIGHTENED...rather than LOOSENED

    Nikhil is spot on, and Sarathy Srivas puts it quite well; Choice D is wordy, but correct. I like how Sarathy focused on this comparison in order to arrive at the correct choice. Choice D makes the parallel comparison here between the two actions applied to the "tax rules and tariffs." Additionally, the pronoun "them" is totally unnecessary and creates an awkward, redundant construction. Though some pronoun use on the GMAT may be flexible, if your really stuck between two options and one contains an unnecessary pronoun,
    choose the other option. We KNOW that the adjective clause describes the tax rules and tariffs. The comparison is already unparallel, but using the unnecessary "them" also makes it redundant.
    For example:

    "The dog that I am petting and walking it belongs to my brother."

    Look how awkward that "it" is!

    The "when compared with" in B is much less preferable to "compared with" alone. Why use "when" if you don't need it? "When" specifically refers to time, and this sentence is not about a specific time at which the two policies were compared; in 2000, compared with another policy, the policy in Lithuania was less strict. Try to reserve "when" to describe a time period.

    Like Praveen and John Ivan, several of you were thrown off by the use of "that" in choice D. But remember; as long as "that" replaces the other singular item in a comparison, it's totally fine. Here, "Compared with THE POLICY enforced by...THE POLICY enforced in Lithuania..."

    The comparison is parallel and logical.

    Some of you, like Vinayak, are stuck on the use of "like" here. "Like" can be used to compare two nouns, and it can also mean "such as." Though "like" is more casual than "such as," "like" is a preposition that can be used to introduce noun examples. When the GMAT wants to test the misuse of "like," it will use "like" to compare two things
    that are not nouns. Whereas a parallelism error is enough to eliminate an option, a casual, but not incorrect, use of "like" is not an error.

    The answer is D. Remember to focus on what's important, including comparison terms and S-V agreement. As soon as you see a "than" or "as...as" construction, eliminate comparisons that are not parallel or logical. Watch out for unnecessary and awkward pronouns.

    Remember: "that" can be used to replace a singular item in a comparison.

    Use the differences between options to help, and if a construction seems awkward but you can't quite figure out why, hold onto it and use the differences between this option and other options you're left with to eliminate ERRORS.

    Joanna, Knewton

    • thank you for the detailed (and wonderful) explanation, Joanna.

    • Great explaination Joana! Thanks

      It boiled down to the idiom X rather than Y idiom with B and D :-) .. Please post more SCs such as this one!

    • So who gets the T-shirt?? :P

    • I have never seen a GMAT question that uses "like" when "such as" should be used. Could you please cite an example of this from the GMAT Official Guides? Since idioms are tested on the GMAT, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't getting bad information.

  • I think the answer is D. I believe one of the keys here is determining what the author intends by using the word "like". My thought was that he is comparing indirect taxes to value added taxes and excise taxes not saying that that the tax actually includes them.

    My other issue with B is the use of "loosening them". Does them refer to the rules and tarriffs or requirements? Its somewhat ambiguous. There is also the issue of parallelism. rules and tarrifs that...needed to be tightened...rather than loosening them is not correct.

    In D those problems are eliminated.

  • correct ans is B

  • answer is B. D sounds awkward.

  • It is bet B and D but after reading the option B completely it is actually D here....

  • D is correct.

    It seems a lot of people are picking B. I would note that the main reason B fails is that one clause in it is asymmetric because of the word 'loosening'.

  • (E) In 2000, Lithuania, compared with the members of the European Union, had a policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced less strictly, since it imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed tightening in order that they would harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen

    This passage communicates the intended message. In 2000 tax policy in Lithuania was less strict than EU nations. "Since" (after a time in the past : subsequently ) it has remedied this situation and forgone the advantages it would have against non-EU countries if it would have loosened its tax policy. I think this passage is correct.

  • I would go with B as I don't see any errors in it

  • IMO D

    The policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared to the European Union’s members’ in 2000, which imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen it for the purpose of remaining competitive with trading partners outside of the EU.

    (A) The policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared to the European Union’s members’ in 2000, which imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen it

    ---------1. use of were here is incorrect as the policy is singular ...2. which after 200 seems to modify 2000 (incorrect).... 3. needed (to be) not parallel with (to) loosen.......

    (B) The policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared with the policy applied by the European Union’s members in 2000, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

    ------1. Faulty Parallelism - tightened.... loosening (should be loosened) 2. wrong idiom - less ...when compared to (correct: less than).....

    (C) When it was compared with that enforced by members of the European Union in 2000, the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced in Lithuania and that were less strict, were imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened in order to harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

    ----1. use of were 2. parallelism problem with tightened and loosening

    (D) Compared with that enforced by members of the European Union in 2000, the policy of applying indirect taxes, like value added tax and excise duties, that was enforced in Lithuania was less strict, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosened

    ..... Bingo - Correct!!

    (E) In 2000, Lithuania, compared with the members of the European Union, had a policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, that were enforced less strictly, since it imposed tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed tightening in order that they would harmonize with the EU’s requirements and not to loosen

    -----1. comparison problem 2. were vs was 3. referent of 'it' 4. parallelism - tightening vs. loosen

  • hi,
    In choice B apart from the error highlighted by Joanna,is there any error in "enforced in Lithuania" and "imposing tax rules and tariffs".I mean if you take the complete sentence then are they acting as participle or enforced in Lithuania constructs a sentence fragment as it is missing an auxiliary verb

    The policy of applying indirect taxes, including value added tax and excise duties, enforced in Lithuania was less strict when compared with the policy applied by the European Union’s members in 2000, imposing tax rules and tariffs that, for the most part, needed to be tightened so that the country would harmonize with the EU’s requirements rather than loosening them

    • Think the answer is B via process of elimination. 2-3 split of the word 'like' and 'including' is a key.

  • I think the answer is b, because the rest of them seem gramatically wrong. Although not a very good explanation, i am curious to know the actual answer.

  • The answer should be 'D '. 

    There are a lot of bugs in the other options:
    (a) 'were' incorrectly refers to a singular
    (b) parallelism error
    (c) parallelism error 
    (d) parallelism error

    • (e) parallelism error, not (d) parallelism error 

  • The rest are huge blunders, but the rather than usage in D also seem to be a problem
    rather than is followed by noun

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