GMAT Avengers Study Group: Voices on Sentence Correction:

by on November 30th, 2014

Verbs are written in either Active Voice or Passive Voice. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence has an action performed on it by someone or something else.

Active: The hungry students ATE the pizza.

Passive: The pizza WAS EATEN by the hungry students.

It’s tricky sometimes to distinguish between active and passive voices, but it’s worth practicing, because sometimes on GMAT sentence correction questions, the difference between two grammatically sound answer choices is active and passive voice. Many of us in that situation end up guessing because we can’t think of any good reason to reject either of the choices. By learning how to use active and passive voices, we can avoid that frustration.

In any GMAT SC question in which answers choices are split between active and passive voice for the same verb, the active voice will be correct essentially most of the time. The use of the passive voice tends to clutter sentences up, making them lengthier and more complicated than necessary. But this does not mean every answer answer choice that uses a passive voice will be incorrect on the GMAT. Never cross off answer choices just because they are passive. If every other choice has a definite error, for instance, then the choice using the passive voice can be correct. The passive voice is certainly acceptable when the doer is unknown or not a concern, and the passive form may be preferable in some cases for rhetorical reasons to focus on the recipient of the action.

Passive voice is a style issue on the GMAT, and should not be our first concern when evaluating the answer choices. Don’t use passive/active to eliminate any answer choices until you’re considered every other grammar and meaning error in the sentence.

The following are the links to the articles that we shared on our Facebook Event Page.

Problems from Official Guides where Passive Answer choices have been preferred over active—OG13 #114, OG12#90.

Practice Problems

**Please note that the questions may test multiple issues and are not only limited to usage of voice.

1) Until Tammy Howard proved otherwise in the 18th century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

(A) Until Tammy Howard proved otherwise in the 18th century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

(B)  many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood

(C) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion

(D) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion

(E) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

2) Through analysis of a microsite, which is a small area containing many fossils, a paleontologist can reconstruct a local ecosystem as it had been millions of years ago.

(A)  it had been

(B) it might have been

(C) it was

(D) if during a time

(E) though it were

3) According to some analysts, the gains in the stock market reflect growing confidence that the economy will avoid the recession that many had feared earlier in the year and instead come in for a ‘soft landing’, followed by a gradual increase in the business activity.

(A) that the economy will avoid the recession that many had feared earlier in the year and instead come

(B) in the economy to avoid the recession, what many feared earlier in the year, rather to come

(C) in the economy’s ability to avoid the recession, something earlier in the year many had feared , and instead to come

(D) in the economy to avoid the recession many were fearing earlier in the year, and rather to come

(E) that the economy will avoid the recession that was feared eariler this year by many, with it instead coming

4) It is thought that if cats were allowed to breed indiscriminately, more than half of the cat population would have been Tabby.

(A) if cats were allowed to breed indiscriminately, more than half of the cat population would have been Tabby

(B) more than half of the cat population would be Tabby if cats were allowed to breed indiscriminately

(C) if cats had been allowed to breed indiscriminately, more than half of the cat population would be Tabby

(D) more than half of the cat population would be Tabby if cats had been allowed to breed indiscriminately

(E) more than half of the cat population would have been Tabby if cats were allowed to breed indiscriminately

5) Although decisive victories at Midway and in the Guadalcanal campaign had raised hopes in a readily attainable Allied victory going against Japan, the fierce battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa forced the conclusion that defeating the Japanese home islands would be neither quick nor easy.

(A) had raised hopes in a readily attainable Allied victory going against Japan

(B) had raised hopes that an Allied victory against Japan was readily attainable

(C) had raised hopes for there being Allied victory toward Japan that was a readily attainable

(D) raised hopes that an Allied victory over Japan would be readily attainable

(E) raised hopes in an Allied victory toward Japan as readily attainable

6) Because of the enormous research and development expenditures required to survive in the electronics industry, an industry marked by rapid innovation and volatile demand, such firms tend to be very large.

(A) to survive

(B) of firms to survive

(C) for surviving

(D) for survival

(E) for firms’ survival

7) The first commercially successful drama to depict Black family life sympathetically and the first play by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway, it was Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1959, and was later made into both a film and a musical.

(A) it was Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1959, and was later made

(B) in 1959 A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and was later made

(C) Lorraine Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for A Raisin in the Sun in 1959, and it was later made

(D) Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1959 and was later made

(E) A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1959, and later made it

8) Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team’s discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

(A) Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team’s discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

(B) In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

(C) Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

(D) The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

(E) In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team’s discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton

9) At the press conference, the CEO denied in the most strenuous terms that his corporation’s lawyers for the six charged senior officers they could provide undue favorable influence in the imminent embezzlement trials.

(A) for the six charged senior officers they could provide

(B) for the six senior charged officers had the ability of providing

(C) had the ability, for the six senior officers charged, of providing

(D) were able to provide for the six senior officers charged

(E) being able to provide for the six senior charged officers

10)  In his nearly three decades as the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai set in motion processes that had a major impact on U.S.-China relations: China entered the Korean War against the United States, at Zhou’s urging, and two decades later, because of Zhou, China normalized their diplomatic connections with the US when Nixon visited.

(A) China entered the Korean War against the United States, at Zhou’s urging, and two decades later, because of Zhou, China normalized their diplomatic connections with the US when Nixon visited

(B) China entered the Korean War against the United States, at Zhou’s urging, and two decades later orchestrating Nixon’s visit and the normalization of US-China diplomatic connections

(C) Zhou urged China to enter the Korean War against the United States, and two decades later, because of Zhou, China normalized their diplomatic connections with the US when Nixon visited.

(D) Zhou urged China to enter the Korean War against the United States, and two decades later he orchestrated Nixon’s visit and the normalization of US-China diplomatic connections

(E) the US fought against China in the Korean War, because Zhou urged them, and two decades later, Nixon visited China and normalized US-China diplomatic connections, again because of him

11) The recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing-Tibet highway reportedly caused by a spurt in traffic by heavy trucks carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute as well as by the delayed response of the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains.

(A) The recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing-Tibet highway reportedly caused by a spurt in traffic by heavy trucks carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute as well as by the delayed response of the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains.

(B) The recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing- Tibet highway reportedly was caused by a spurt in traffic by heavy trucks carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute along with the delayed response of the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains.

C) The recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing-Tibet highway reportedly was caused by a spurt in traffic by heavy trucks carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute as well as by the delayed response of the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains.

(D) A spurt in traffic by heavy trucks carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute as well as by the delayed response of the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains reportedly have caused the recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing-Tibet highway.

(E) Heavy truck movement carrying coal and heading to Beijing as part of the illegal trade in coal that has flourished due to lack of government control enroute as well as the delayed response by the maintenance agencies to undertake timely repairs to the roads damaged in the recent incessant rains reportedly were the cause of the recent spate of traffic jams on Beijing-Tibet highway.

12) By absorbing the nutrition from the new leaves of the margosa tree, root growth is hampered by the agelbop, causing the edge of leaves to weaken from stiff to loose and droop down earlier than usual.

(A) root growth is hampered by the agelbop, causing the edge of leaves to weaken from stiff to loose and droop down

(B) root growth is hampered by the woolly agelbop, and this causes the edge of leaves points to weaken from stiff to loose , and their drooping down

(C) the woolly agelbop hampered root growth, which causes the edge of leaves to weaken from stiff to loose, and drooping down

(D) the woolly agelbop hampered root growth, causing the edge of leaves to weaken from stiff to loose and to droop down

(E) the woolly agelbop hampered root growth, and this causes the edge of leaves to weaken from stiff to loose, and their drooping down

13) According to one expert, the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog is not so much that dogs are being bred for looks or to meet other narrow criteria as that the breeds have relatively few founding members.

(A) the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog is not so much that dogs are being bred for looks or to meet other narrow criteria

(B) the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog is not as much their being bred for looks or meeting other narrow criteria as much

(C) it is not so much the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog that they are being bred for looks or meeting other narrow criteria as much

(D) it is not so much the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog is their being bred for looks or meeting other narrow criteria so much

(E) it is not so much the cause of genetic irregularities in many breeds of dog to be bred for looks or to meet other narrow criteria

14) The vice-president of engineering argued that the biggest advantage of the proposed alloy for the designs of the new fuselage would lay in not its unusually light weight but in its superior resistance to the corrosive influence of the elements.

(A) would lay in not its

(B) would lie not in its

(C) will lie in not their

(D) will lay not in its

(E) would lay in not their

15) Though it is now universally accepted that William Shakespeare was a real, historical person—which was once considered questionable—some still suspect him not to have written all of the works attributed as his own.

(A) Though it is now universally accepted that William Shakespeare was a real, historical person—which was once considered questionable—some still suspect him not to have written all of the works attributed as his own.

(B) Though William Shakespeare is now universally accepted to be a real, historical person—once considered as questionable—some still suspect him not to have written all of the works attributed to be his own.

(C) William Shakespeare—now universally accepted as a real, historical person, though even this fact was once considered questionable—who is still suspected, by some, not to have written all of the works attributed to him.

(D) Though it is now universally accepted that William Shakespeare was a real, historical person—a fact that was once considered questionable—he is still suspected, by some, of not having written all of the works attributed to him.

(E) Some still suspect that William Shakespeare did not write all of the works attributed as his own, although it is now universally accepted that he was a real, historical person—a fact that was once considered questionable.

Answer Key

  1. A
  2. C
  3. A
  4. B
  5. B
  6. B
  7. D
  8. E
  9. D
  10. D
  11. C
  12. D
  13. A
  14. B
  15. D

Make sure you check out the event Facebook page to see all the comments that were being exchanged during the live session.

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1 comment

  • i got like half of them wrong. these questions were extremely hard and very close what i got on the gmat. How do I get better, because the GMAT comes up with exceptions and new priority preference everytime I learn a rule

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