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GMATPrep Q&A: Choosing the Best Answer on SC

Posted in Test Prep on December 24, 2010 by



This GMATPrep® Sentence Correction question was sent to us by a student who got stuck between two choices and couldn’t decide which was right. It is a perfect example of the fact that the GMAT asks you to choose the best version of the sentence from among the five choices given, not the best possible version. Let’s take a look:

Regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy, the fight over the speed limit continues in our legislatures and on our freeways.

(A) Regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy, the fight over the speed limit continues in our legislatures and on our freeways.
(B) Regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy, the speed limit continues to be fought over in our legislatures and on our freeways.
(C) Regarded by opponents as ineffective meddling and by supporters as the conservation of life and energy, the speed limit continues to be fought over
in our legislatures and on our freeways.
(D) The fight over the speed limit, regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy, continues in our legislatures and on our freeways.
(E) The fight over the speed limit, a measure regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy, continues in our legislatures and on our freeways.

The original sentence contains a misplaced modifier. Logically, it is not “the fight over the speed limit” that would be “regarded by opponents as ineffective and meddlesome and by supporters as a conserver of life and energy,” but the speed limit itself. With this in mind, we can immediately eliminate any choices in which the modifier beginning with “regarded” appears to modify “the fight over the speed limit” rather than “the speed limit”: choices A, D, and E. Do not be fooled by the fact that “speed limit” comes right before the modifier in choices D and E. It still appears as part of the phrase “the fight over the speed limit” and still creates a misplaced modifier.

Now we must look at choices B and C comparatively. Since both of them use the passive construction “the speed limit continues to be fought over,” neither one is perfect. However, choice C’s descriptions of the speed limit as “ineffective meddling” and “the conservation of life and energy” make it decidedly more wrong, so choice B is correct.

Is choice B perfect? Hardly. It’s a bit awkward, it puts the modifier in the beginning when it would be much clearer to put it in the middle, and it uses the passive voice. However, it is clearly the best of the five choices given.