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How I tackled a hard SC question?

This topic has 2 expert replies and 3 member replies

How I tackled a hard SC question?

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This post is for my own understanding of the question. I originally got this question wrong on the GMATPrep practice test. I am writing this post to re-inforce my own understanding of this question (and how to tackle such questions). I hope this post is useful at least to a few people.

Based on records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe that they used to dress a statue of the goddess Athena and that this robe depicted scenes of a battle between Zeus, Athena's father, and giants.

Okay, before moving to the answer options, I like to dissect the sentence to make it more digestible. This takes some time but doing so makes me reach the answer quicker and so I reduce the overall time spent on the question.

First, remove the fluff from the sentence. The following parts can be removed -
    Based on records from ancient Athens, This is a modifier and does not contribute to the structure of the core of the sentence.

    each year young Athenian This describes the women, hence not important

    new woolen Adjectival phrase to describe the robe, in itself, not important

    a statue of the goddess Athena What they used to dress is not important. For clarity, we can replace this with something

    scenes of a battle between Zeus, Athena's father, and giants Again we can replace it with something


So the sentence now becomes Women collaborated to weave a robe that they used to dress something and that this robe depicted something. From this simplified sentence, we see there are two independent clauses connected by and. In the first clause, the subject is Women and the verb is collaborated to weave and in the second clause the subject is robe and the verb is depicted. But wait, these two clauses don't look parallel - there is a that in second clause which is missing.

Could the sentence not be made simpler by dropping the that. I'm not sure.

Now the answer options.
    A. Same as the underlined portion. - Possible parallelism mistake but I am not sure.


    B. Based on records from ancient Athens, each year young women had collaborated to weave a new robe with which to dress

In this answer choice, why is past perfect used? There is no other past action before which this collaboration might have occurred. I will eliminate this.

    C. According to records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a woolen robe that they used to dress

If we simplify this answer option as described above, this becomes same as the original sentence. (And parallelism is not maintained). This makes me more confident that both A and C must be incorrect as they are essentially the same thing, except for the modifier which I don't think is any different from one another.

    D. Records from ancient Athens indicate that each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe with which they dressed

OK, let's simplify this answer option. The simplified sentence would look like -
Records indicate that women collaborated to weave a robe and that this robe depicted something.
Oh yes, two clauses (both having different subjects and verb) both have a that which makes this parallel. This looks like the answer.

    E. Records from ancient Athens indicate each year young Athenian women had collaborated to weave a new woolen robe for dressing

An unexplained shift in tense. This answer option is definitely out.

So, we are left with D.

I'm aware that it is not always possible to do this much work and have such clear thinking during the exam but that is what is required for this question. I would be happy to learn if there is any mistake in my thinking or there is a more efficient way.



Last edited by sidchilling on Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:44 am; edited 1 time in total

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Quote:
Based on records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe that they used to dress a statue of the goddess Athena and that this robe depicted scenes of a battle between Zeus, Athena's father, and giants.

(A) Based on records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe that they used to dress
(B) Based on records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women had collaborated to weave a new woolen robe with which to dress
(C) According to records from ancient Athens, each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe that they used to dress
(D) Records from ancient Athens indicate that each year young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe with which they dressed
(E) Records from ancient Athens indicate each year young Athenian women had collaborated to weave a new woolen robe for dressing
Don't be too quick to ignore non-essential modifiers.

An introductory VERBed modifier must serve to refer to the FIRST NOUN of the main clause.
A and B: Based on records...each year
Here, based seems to refer to each year.
Since each year was not BASED on records, eliminate A and B.

C: Young Athenian women collaborated to weave a new woolen robe THAT THEY USED...and THAT THIS ROBE DEPICTED.
Here, that they used and that this robe depicted both seem to modify a new woolen robe.
The result is a nonsensical meaning:
a new woolen robe...that this robe depicted.
Eliminate C.

E: Records from ancient Athens indicate each year.
Here, the implication is that records indicate the YEAR itself.
Not the intended meaning.
The intended meaning is that records indicate an EVENT: what HAPPENED each year.
Eliminate E.

The correct answer is D.

OA: Records from ancient Athens indicate THAT each year young Athenian women collaborated...and THAT this robe depicted scenes of a battle.
Here, THAT each year young Athenian women collaborated and THAT this robe depicted scenes both serve -- correctly -- as direct objects of INDICATE.

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Thank you so much GMATGuruNY for the explanation Smile

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Sidchilling, thanks for the illuminating post. Very helpful.
Found gmatguru's explanation helpful, too, especially the bit about "based" and "each year" (didn't see earlier that 'based is kind of like a verb, not an adjective...), but my understanding is that "that" can sometimes be dropped from a sentence without that hurting the grammar. So records indicate that each year it rains a lot in Madagascar. Records indicate each year it rains heavily in Mumbai. Is the second sentence wrong?

Cheers.

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I think both "Records indicate that each year it rains heavily in Mumbai" and "Records indicate each year it rains heavily in Mumbai" should be acceptable. But can an instructor shed more light. I am pretty sure I have seen both usages.

Also, I don't think an answer choice would make this distinction.

Again clarification from an instructor here will be helpful.

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A REPORTING VERB is a verb that can serve to report an event:
The company announced that
The study revealed that
The survey indicates that

The verbs in red are examples of reporting verbs.

Generally, a reporting verb on the GMAT must be followed by that.
There is one exception, which I discuss here:
http://www.beatthegmat.com/veritas-q-07926-t282787.html

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GMATGuruNY@gmail.com

If you find one of my posts helpful, please take a moment to click on the "UPVOTE" icon.

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For more information, please email me at GMATGuruNY@gmail.com.
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