Explanations March

 

3/31/20

 

Research suggests that it is possible to cultivate insight by adjusting external conditions. For example, studies show that open surroundings, including high ceilings and tall windows, can broaden one’s perspective. Low ceilings, narrow corridors, and windowless offices have the opposite effect.

 

Which of the following would be the LEAST acceptable alternative to the underlined word?

 

A. enlarge
B. raise
C. expand
D. widen

 

Enlarge, expand, and widen can all be used as synonyms for broaden in order to imply that a person’s perspective is becoming larger or more complete. Only raise cannot have this connotation. This word can only refer to the act of lifting something higher. (B) is correct because the question asks you to identify the LEAST acceptable alternative to broaden.


3/30/20

 

Robert Wright, the founder of the website Mindful Resistance, claims that meditation, if widely practiced, can help people overcome aggression and other harmful behaviors. Not only does meditation make us happier, Wright says but it also makes us kinder, less selfish, and more considerate of others.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. Wright says; but it
C. Wright says, but
D. Wright says, it

 

The key to answering this question is to recognize that the comma before Wright sets off a non-essential clause that can be eliminated from the sentence without affecting its basic structure: Not only does meditation make us happier…but it also makes us kinder, less selfish, and more considerate of others. A comma cannot be placed only before the non-essential information, as in (A), nor can the end of the non-essential clause be marked by a semicolon, as in (B). (D) supplies the second comma but omits the word but, which must be paired with not only. (C) correctly uses a comma to mark the end of the non-essential clause and includes but.

 


 

3/29/20

 

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is the latest effort to try to answer questions that dominate astronomy for the last several decades: Are we alone? Are there other Earths? Evidence of even a single microbe anywhere else in the galaxy would fundamentally change science.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. are dominating
C. have dominated
D. dominated

 

The phrase for the last several decades is a tip-off that the present perfect (has/have + verb) is required: it indicates that the underlined verb describes an action that began in the past and that is continuing into the present. In other words, the questions listed began dominating astronomy several decades ago and are still dominating it today. Only (C) contains the correct construction. (A) and (B) both contain versions of the present: although dominate is the simple present and are dominating is the present progressive, which emphasizes that an action is in the process of occurring, these options are grammatically equivalent. (D) is incorrect because dominated can only refer to an action that began and ended in the past.

 


 

3/28/20

 

For a robot to help scientists truly understand marine life, it must engage with underwater environments without disturbing them. An agile robotic fish created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers does just that. Indeed, it has been observed interacting peacefully with aquatic life along coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean at depths of up to 18 meters.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. However,
C. On the other hand,
D. Therefore,

 

Start by eliminating (B) and (C): however and on the other hand are synonyms, so neither option can be correct — a question can have only one right answer, so if two answers have the same meaning, both must be wrong by default. Now, consider the specific relationship between the last sentence and the information before it. The first two sentences of the passage indicate that MIT researchers have produced a robotic fish that is helpful to researchers because it can engage with underwater environments without disturbing them. The final sentence provides an example of a situation in which the robotic fish was placed underwater without disturbing the environment. That sentence does not describe a result of the previous sentence — it merely illustrates the scenario that sentence describes. As a result, (D) can be eliminated. (A) is correct because Indeed is used to emphasize a preceding statement, and the fact that the robotic fish interact[ed] peacefully with its environment emphasizes the idea that it can engage with underwater environments without disturbing them.

 


 

3/27/20

 

Whereas the tips of most icebergs are covered in densely packed snow or have been weathered by the elements a few rare ones are free of debris and expose glassy, aqua-green ice with water flowing through it.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. elements, a few
C. elements; a few
D. elements, and a few

 

This sentence contains two clauses: a dependent clause (Whereas the tips of most icebergs are covered in densely packed snow or have been weathered by the elements) and an independent clause (a few rare ones are free of debris and expose glassy, aqua-green ice with water flowing through it). When a dependent clause comes before an independent clause, as it does here, a comma must be used to separate the clauses–it is not an option to omit the punctuation, as (A) does. A semicolon cannot be used either: this type of punctuation can only separate two complete sentences, eliminating (C). Comma + and is grammatically identical to a semicolon, so (D) can be eliminated as well. Only (B) correctly provides a comma, making it the answer.

 


 

3/26/20

 

The seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree have, over hundreds of years, been linked to therapies for more than 100 diseases and conditions. Its status as a cure-all dates back over 2,000 years.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. It’s
C. Their
D. They’re

 

The previous sentence indicates that the seeds (plural) of the Theobroma cacao tree have been linked to a wide range of cures, so the underlined pronoun at the start of the following sentence must refer back to seeds and be plural as well. That eliminates (A) and (B). (D) can be eliminated as well because they’re = they are, and you would not say They are status as a cure-all dates back over 2,000 years… (C) correctly uses the plural possessive their. Their status = the status of the Theobroma cacao seeds. (Note: it is acceptable to say Their status as a cure-all rather than Their status as cure-alls: because the seeds can be understood as a single collective group, a noun disagreement is not created.)

 


 

3/25/20

 

In July of 1848, a group of men and women gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, for the first women’s rights convention held in the United States. Many important figures of the day attended, and among them were: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. were—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott
C. were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott,
D. were Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Lucretia Mott,

 

A colon must follow a complete, standalone sentence, but Among the important figures of the day who attended were cannot stand by itself as an independent thought. That eliminates (A). (B) simply swaps the colon for a dash, creating the same error. These two types of punctuation can be used interchangeably to introduce a list, but like a colon, a dash used this way must be preceded by a statement that makes sense on its own. Note that the lack of a comma after Lucretia Mott is a distraction here; the comma before and is optional. (D) eliminates that error by removing the unnecessary punctuation after were but creates a new problem by placing a semicolon between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Although semicolons can acceptably be used to separate the items in a list, they cannot be alternated with commas — only one type of punctuation can be used. That leaves (C), which also eliminates the unnecessary punctuation after were and places only commas between the names in the list.

 


 

3/24/20

 

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh earned instantaneous fame for becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. In 1925, however, he was an obscure Air Mail pilot, where he was responsible for transporting packages between Chicago and St. Louis. 

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. pilot. Who was responsible
C. pilot, he was responsible
D. pilot responsible

 

(A) is incorrect because where can only refer to a place. Although the sentence does mention places (Chicago and St. Louis), in this case where is used to refer to an obscure Air Mail pilot, and clearly a pilot is not a place. (B) is incorrect because who cannot begin a sentence that is not a question, so the construction period + who is automatically incorrect. (C) is incorrect because it creates a comma splice — two complete sentences separated by a comma (tipoff: comma + he). (D) is correct because no punctuation is needed between pilot and responsible. Note that this section can be written two ways: he was an obscure Air Mail pilot who was responsible for transporting packages… or he was an obscure Air Mail pilot responsible for transporting packages… Both are equally correct, but only the second option is provided.

 


 

3/23/20

 

Many of us listen to music as a way to calm or energize ourselves. Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel Levitin, professors at McGill University, have had a look at more than 400 scientific papers on the neurochemical effects of music. Their conclusion was that music truly can boost the body’s immune system, reduce anxiety, and regulate people’s moods.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. checked out
C. examined
D. overlooked

 

Although they make sense in context, had a look at and checked out are both too informal, eliminating (A) and (B).  (D) is incorrect because overlooked has the wrong meaning: to “overlook” something is to not notice it, a meaning that does not fit here. (C) is correct because examined is most consistent with the moderately serious tone as well as the meaning of the passage. (Note: even if you interpreted checked out to mean “checked out of a library,” this answer still does not fit as well as (C) — the most logical interpretation is that Chanda and Levitin studied more than 400 papers in order to come to their conclusion, not that they merely accessed them.)

 


 

3/22/20

 

Killer whales are known to live in groups that have unique vocal “dialects” in the wild, they may also copy sounds made by other members of their species, although that ability has not yet been seriously studied.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. dialects. In
C. dialect, in
D. dialects; and in

 

To answer this question, you must focus on the non-underlined portion of the sentence. Although the underlined section in the original version makes sense when considered independently, the comma after wild creates a comma splice — two complete sentences separated by a comma. (C) creates the same error and adds an additional one by placing a comma before a preposition (in). (D) eliminates the comma splice but incorrectly places a semicolon before and. As a coordinating (FANBOYS) conjunction, and can only follow a comma, not a semicolon. That leaves (B), which eliminates the comma splice by using a period to create two separate sentences and moving the phase in the wild to a more logical position in the second sentence.

 


 

3/21/20

 

Standard computer processors rely on packets, or bits of information: each of the packets represents a single yes or no answer. Quantum processors, on the other hand, don’t work in the realm of yes or no but rather operating in the almost surreal world of yes and no.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. would operate
C. operated
D. operate

 

Because there is nothing to indicate that a tense switch is necessary, the underlined verb must be parallel to the other verbs in the passage. All of the other verbs are in the present tense (rely, represent, don’t), so the underlined verb must be in the present as well. (D) is the only option that contains a present-tense verb, so it is correct.

 


 

3/20/20

 

Although robots have been used in factories for decades, getting them to leave the shop-floor has been no easy task. In manufacturing plants, they carry out pre-ordained, repetitive tasks all day and night. But if they step outside, they are unable to deal with the chaos of the real world, where order and routine are gone. Even the simplest tasks are complicated by the sensors and wires that must follow them around.

 

Given that all of the choices are true, which one best concludes the paragraph and reaffirms the idea that the real world is disorderly?

 

A. NO CHANGE
B.  unpredictability and vagueness of human interaction.
C. difficulties of creating robots of different sizes.
D. limited amount of energy provided by batteries.

 

The question asks you to identify the option that “reaffirms the idea that the real world is disorderly” so the correct answer must be negative and have something to do with disorder. (A) and (D) are completely off-topic and can be eliminated. In (C), don’t get distracted by the word difficulties. Although this word is negative, creating robots of different sizes is unrelated to disorder. In contrast, the unpredictability and vagueness of human interaction is directly related to that concept. That makes (B) correct.

 


 

3/19/20

 

Reading foreign books and watching international television are recommended to be a way for people to improve their knowledge of world affairs, but neither is a substitute for spending time in another country.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. to be ways
C. as a way
D. as ways

 

The correct idiomatic phrase is x is recommended as y, eliminating (A) and (B). In addition, reading foreign books and watching international televisions are two separate actions, so they are ways rather than a single way. That eliminates (C) and makes (D) the answer.

 


 

3/18/20

 

Sometimes a symbol can be so familiar that even out of context—different surroundings, different colors and very different materials—it remains immediately recognizable. That’s the case for the five neon-colored tipis that anchor the exhibition “Manifestipi.” Created by ITWE Collective, a trio of artists based in Winnipeg and Montreal, the eight-foot-tall structures made of frosted plexiglass are unmistakeably tipis. Although they look nothing like traditional ones.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. Montreal, and the eight-foot tall structures made of frosted plexiglass are unmistakeably tipis, although
C. Montreal the eight-foot tall structures, made of frosted plexiglass are unmistakeably tipis, although
D. Montreal, the eight-foot tall structures made of frosted plexiglass are unmistakeably tipis, although

 

(A) is incorrect because a sentence that contains only one clause cannot begin with although — a clause that begins with although is always dependent. As a result, although they look nothing like traditional ones is not a sentence and cannot begin after a period. (B) is incorrect because placement of and before the eight-foot tall structures creates a fragment. Comma + and = period, but this type of punctuation cannot be inserted here because Created by ITWE Collective, a trio of artists based in Winnipeg and Montreal is not a sentence. (C) is incorrect because no comma should be placed after structures. This section of the sentence can be written as either eight-foot tall structures that are made of frosted plexiglass, or eight-foot tall structures made of frosted plexiglass. When that is optional and does not appear, no comma should be used in its place. That leaves (D), which correctly uses commas alone after Montreal and tipis to separate the independent clause the eight-foot tall structures made of frosted glass are unmistakeably tipis from the dependent clauses (fragments) before and after it.

 


 

3/17/20

 

Many Parisians hated the Eiffel Tower when it was first erected in 1889. Although they may seem incomprehensible now, that sentiment is perhaps more understandable when you consider that the monument was originally painted red.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. it
C. one
D. these

 

Don’t get fooled into thinking that the underlined pronoun refers to the plural noun Parisians; it does not make any sense to say Although many Parisians may seem incomprehensible now… The only noun to which the underlined pronoun can logically refer is the singular noun sentiment — this is the rare case in which the pronoun precedes its referent. The more typical syntax would read as follows: Although that sentiment (i.e., Parisians’ dislike for the Eiffel Tower) may seem incomprehensible now, it is perhaps more believable when you consider that the monument was originally painted red. That makes the answer (B). One makes no sense in context, and these is plural and creates the same disagreement as they.

 


 

3/16/20

 

Astronomers conducting a galactic census of planets in the Milky Way now suspect most of the universe’s habitable real estate exists on worlds orbiting red dwarf stars, which are smaller but far more numerous than stars like our Sun.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. then stars
C. than that of stars
D. as stars

 

Because the sentence is making a comparison, than rather than then must be used, eliminating (B). (C) is also incorrect because the sentence involves a straightforward comparison between red dwarf stars and stars like our Sunthat of is a possessive construction, and there is no mention of anything belonging to stars. (D) is incorrect because more (far more numerous) must be paired with than, not as. That leaves (A), which correctly uses than to compare stars to stars.

 


 

3/15/20

 

Often advertised to promote health and reduce stress, some doctors warn that dietary supplements can have harmful effects, even though they are easy to purchase.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. it is easy to purchase dietary supplements, but some doctors warn that they can have harmful effects.
C. dietary supplements are easy to purchase, yet some doctors warn they can have harmful effects.
D. harmful effects can be had by dietary supplements, even though they are easy to purchase, some doctors warn.

 

What is often advertised to promote health and reduce stress? Dietary supplements. So dietary supplements, the subject, must be placed after the introductory phrase, at the beginning of the underlined portion. Otherwise, a dangling modifier is created. (C) is the only option that begins correctly, so it is the only possible answer

 


 

3/14/20

 

From his desk at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, space debris analyst Tim Flohrer keeps track of the 23,000 or so catalogued objects currently orbiting the Earth. These objects range from spacecraft and satellites – some working, most not – to rocket parts that they have discarded.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. one has
C. we have
D. space agencies have

 

In the original version, the underlined pronoun is missing an antecedent — there is no plural noun in the passage that they could logically refer to. (B) and (C) both create grammatically acceptable constructions, but neither of these options really makes sense: one and we are used to refer to people in general, but people in general are clearly not discarding rocket parts in space. A much more logical interpretation of the sentence is that space agencies are discarding rocket parts. The use of a noun rather than a pronoun is also much clearer and more specific. (When you are given the choice between a noun and a pronoun, the noun will usually be correct.) That makes the answer (D).

 


 

3/13/20

 

Whatever its origins, brunch seems to have caught on in the United States during the 1930s, supposedly because Hollywood stars whom made transcontinental train trips frequently stopped off in Chicago to enjoy a late morning meal.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. who
C. which
D. DELETE the underlined word.

 

As a rule, who rather than whom must come before a verb. Made is a verb, so who must be placed before it. Which is used to refer to things, but Hollywood stars are people, so (C) can be eliminated. Eliminating the underlined pronoun completely results in an ungrammatical construction (Hollywood stars made transcontinental train trips frequently stopped in Chicago…), so (D) does not work. (B) is thus correct.

 


 

3/12/20

 

The Sahara has not always been a wilderness of sand dunes. German climatologists Rudolph Kuper and Stefan Kröpelin, analyzed the radiocarbon dates of archaeological sites, recently concluded that the region’s prevailing climate pattern changed around 8,500 B.C., with the monsoon rains that covered the tropics moving north.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. Kröpelin analyzed
C. Kröpelin, they analyzed
D. Kröpelin, who analyzed

 

In order to answer this question, you must consider the sentence as a whole — if you just focus on the underlined portion, you will not have enough information. The key to recognizing the error in the incorrect versions is to notice the comma after sites, without a transition afterward. It is incorrect to say, Rudolph Kuper and Stefan Kröpelin analyzed the radiocarbon dates of archaeological sites, recently concluded… The word and should appear after sites to create a grammatical construction. If you don’t notice that problem, however, you might be tempted to pick (B). Because the construction after sites cannot be changed, the underlined portion of the sentence must be changed instead. The only option that creates an acceptable construction is (D): placing comma + who after Kröpelin creates a non-essential clause, which ends after sites. When the clause is crossed out, the sentence still makes perfect sense: German climatologists Rudolph Kuper and Stefan Kröpelin… recently concluded that the region’s prevailing climate pattern?changed around 8,500 B.C., with the monsoon rains that covered the tropics moving north. Even if you do not consider the non-essential clause, (A) is incorrect because it places a comma between the subject (German climatologists Rudolph Kuper and Stefan Kröpelin) and the verb (analyzed). (C) is also incorrect because it is incorrect to place comma + subject pronoun (they) immediately after a subject.

 


 

3/11/20

 

When researchers first found Angamuco, an ancient city in western Mexico built by rivals of the Aztecs, they tried several methods to explore the site, including an on-the-ground approach. Although this strategy compiled a finding of impressive architectural features, they quickly realized it would take them a decade to survey the entire area. As a result, they turned to a laser mapping technique known as light detection and ranging, or LiDAR scanning.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. halted
C. yielded
D. adapted

 

The transition although sets up an opposition between the two halves of the sentence: this strategy _______ a finding of impressive architectural features must convey an idea that contrasts with they quickly realized it would take them decades to survey the entire area. Logically, the first half of the sentence must indicate that the researchers successfully found or identified impressive architectural features. The underlined word must therefore mean something like “resulted in,” or “led to.” The option most consistent with that idea is yielded, so the answer is (C). In (A), the meaning is slightly off (compiled means “amassed”), and this word does not fit grammatically: researchers could compile findings, a but strategy cannot be compiled. Halted (stopped) means exactly the opposite of the required word, and adapted does not make sense.

 


 

3/10/20

 

Until the early 1970s, most consumers knew very little about the nutritional content of the prepared foods they purchased. Around that time, however, the dramatic growth in processed food lead to a system of both voluntary and mandatory nutrition labeling.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. leads
C. led
D. has lead

 

This question plays on the confusion caused by the fact that lead has two meanings and can be pronounced in two ways: as a noun, it refers to an element used in pipes and car batteries and is pronounced  “led;” as a verb, it is the present-tense third-person form of to lead and is pronounced “leed.” Here, the underlined word is a verb, but the date 1970s indicates that it must be placed in the simple past tense — the sentence is describing a completed action in the past. The present perfect (has + past participle) cannot be used because the action is not continuing into the present. (D) is incorrect both for that reason and because the past participle is the same as the simple past form: led, not lead. (C) correctly provides the simple past form, led.

 


 

3/9/20

 

Although models of planet-forming disks suggest that most star systems should, like the eight planets of our solar system, have roughly circular orbits, in reality, however, only about one-third of the planets identified in other solar systems orbit in a circular fashion.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. but in reality,
C. and in reality,
D. in reality,

 

This is a very long sentence, and the question is essentially testing your ability not to get “lost” in it. Note that if you focus too hard on the underlined portion, there’s no way to figure out the answer — to do so you must back up and consider the beginning of the sentence. The most important thing to notice is the transition although at the beginning of the sentence. Because the first clause contains a transition, a following clause should not also contain a transition (however, but, or and). It does not matter that the transition is used non-essentially here (between two commas) rather than to introduce the clause — regardless of where it appears in the clause, the transition is still unnecessary. Likewise, the fact that howevever and but are used to signal contrasting ideas while and is used to signal similar ideas is irrelevant; the problem involves grammar, not meaning.  Only (D) eliminates the unnecessary transition, making it correct.

 


 

3/8/20

 

Vocal imitation is a hallmark of human spoken language, yet in other animals it is strikingly rare. Dolphins and beluga whales are among the few mammals that can copy sounds from other species or each other. A small number of animals can also imitate human speech, like parrots are the most famous example, but some members of the crow family are able to do so as well.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. speech such as parrots
C. speech: parrots
D. speech, parrots

 

(A) and (B) both contain redundancies: the phrase like parrots or such as parrots is used to signal an example, so it is redundant to say the most famous example as well. In addition, both of these answers are awkward to the point of being ungrammatical. In effect, they create “jumbled” sentences. (D) is incorrect because placing a comma before parrots creates a comma splice—two complete sentences separated by a comma. (C) correctly uses a colon to introduce the example; grammatically, it has the same function as a period here and can thus serve to separate two complete sentences.

 


 

3/7/20

 

Dogs and humans may be the best of friends today, but research on ancient canine remains shows that the relationship didn’t develop overnight. For long periods of time, people lived in tension with their canine companions. Theirs was a relationship of necessity as well as being convenient.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. as well as convenience.
C. and it was convenient.
D. and having convenience too.

 

The constructions on either side of the transitional word or phrase (as well as, and) must match, or be parallel. The non-underlined side of the transition contains a noun (necessity), so the underlined portion must contain a noun as well (convenience). Both (A) and (C) contain the adjective convenient, so those answers can be eliminated. (D) is incorrect as well because it inserts an unnecessary gerund, having, which disrupts the parallel structure and creates an extremely awkward construction. That leaves (B), which correctly provides the noun convenience alone. You can also think that both items must be able to follow a relationship: it is correct to say a relationship of convenience and a relationship of necessity.

 


 

3/6/20

 

Mushrooms are everywhere — on forest floors, in gardens, and in networks connecting below our feet. The largest organism on Earth is actually a honey mushroom, an underground web, that covers more than 3.7 square miles in Oregon’s Blue Mountains.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. web that, covers
C. web covers
D. web covering

 

As a rule, no comma should be placed either before or after the word that, eliminating both (A) and (B). (C) is incorrect because removing that makes an underground web the subject of the verb covers and creates a comma splice—two complete sentences separated by only a comma. In (D), the  -ING word (participle) covering is used as an alternative to that + verb—the two constructions are grammatically equivalent, and neither requires any punctuation. Unlike (A) and (B), however, (D) correctly omits the punctuation and is thus the answer.

 


 

3/5/20

 

While doctors are increasingly dependent on computers, they can also use these devices to help patients in new and important ways. Therefore, electronic medical records can help physicians share information and keep reliable records about which medications a person has been prescribed over a long period of time.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. for instance,
C. however,
D. meanwhile,

 

Start by ignoring the transition and determining whether the statements before and after the transition express similar ideas or different ideas. The first sentence indicates that doctors can use computers to help patients in new and important ways, and the second states that medical records can help physicians share information and keep reliable records, etc. Those are similar ideas. However and meanwhile are used to indicate contrasting ideas, so (C) and (D) can be eliminated. Be careful with (A): the fact that medical records can facilitate the sharing of information is not a result of the fact that doctors can use computers to help patients. Rather, it is an example used to support the more general idea in the previous sentence. That makes the answer (B).

 


 

3/4/20

 

Spiders are among the hardiest creatures in existence: these eight-legged insects live on every continent other than Antarctica and are established in nearly every habitat on Earth, excepting the air and the sea.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. exempting
C. to exempt
D. with the exception of

 

In most cases, shorter answers (to non-grammar/punctuation questions) tend to be correct, but here the answer is actually the longest option: (D). The standard phrase used to indicate that a writer is pointing out an exception is with the exception of—this is a fixed phrase that cannot be replaced by another, similar construction.

 


 

3/3/20

 

A lack of genetic diversity has proven disastrous to many commercial crops. For example, nearly all bananas for sale today are clones of a single parent plant called the Cavendish, initially bred in Great Britain during the nineteenth century. Although Cavendish bananas are hardier than other types of bananas, they are also less flavorful.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. Cavendish; initially bred
C. Cavendish: initially bred
D. Cavendish, initially being bred

 

(B) is incorrect because a semicolon should be used only to separate two complete sentences, and initially bred in Great Britain during the nineteenth century is not a sentence. (C) does not work either: although a colon does not need to be followed by a complete sentence, that is only the case when the colon introduces a list or an explanation, and neither is present here. (D) is incorrect because the use of the gerund being (which almost always signals an incorrect answer) creates a wordy and awkward construction. (A) is correct because it uses a comma alone to separate a complete sentence from the fragment that follows.

 


3/2/20

 

From the mechanical humanoids in the 1927 film, Metropolis, to the sinister computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey (1968), movie robots have played a crucial role in shaping people’s attitudes toward these machines for decades.

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. film, Metropolis
C. film Metropolis,

D. film Metropolis

 

When a title appears in the middle of a sentence, there are generally only two options: two commas or no commas. (B) and (C) are both distractor answers and can be eliminated immediately. Two commas indicate non-essential information, so to check (A), cross out the title and see whether the sentence makes sense without it: From the mechanical humanoids in the 1927 film…to the sinister computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001—A Space Odyssey No, the sentence does not make sense; we no longer know what the 1927 film is. As a result, the title is essential and no commas should be used, making the answer (D).

 


 

3/1/20

 

The origins of meteorology, or the study of the weather, date back centuries: members of the first agricultural settlements predicted floods based on annual cycles, and inscriptions on ancient tablets referred to different seasons. It was not until just a few hundred years ago, however, that technology became sufficiently advanced to permit any real breakthroughs.

 

Which choice provides the most relevant and specific information?

 

A. NO CHANGE
B. noted the connection between thunder and rain.
C. were made with simple tools.
D. described a variety of plants and animals.

 

The beginning of the sentence indicates that the passage will focus on the study of the weather, and the first example clearly illustrates that idea. The second example, which includes the underlined portion, must do so as well. Different seasons, simple tools, and a variety of plants and animals are all off-topic; only the connection between thunder and rain is directly related to the weather. (B) is thus correct.

 


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