A 4 minute read

[Solution] In no other historical sighting did Halley’s comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910-1911

In this article, we’ll look at the solution to this GMAT sentence correction question. We have analyzed the 5 answer choices and arrived at the correct choice through 3 steps:

  1. Meaning analysis
  2. Error analysis
  3. Answer choice analysis

General information on this question

  • Difficulty level – High
  • 43% of people got this question correct
  • The average time taken to correctly answer this question – 0:51

Let’s look at the question and answer choices

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910-1911

(A) did its return in 1910-1911

(B) had its 1910-1911 return

(C) in its return of 1910-1911

(D) its return of 1910-1911 did

(E) its return in 1910-1911

Halley's comet - GMAT sentence correction question

Solution

Meaning Analysis

  • In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation
    • as did its return in 1910–1911.
  • In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation

 The sentence presents some information about Halley’s Comet. Per this part of the sentence, this comet did not create such a worldwide excitement in any other historical sighting.

So, we can safely infer that this comet has been sighted a several times.

  • as did its return in 1910–1911.

This part of the sentence starts with the comparison word as. The sentence presents comparison between Halley’s Comet and its return.

The comparison mentioned in the sentence is that Halley’s Comet did not cause such a worldwide sensation in any other sighting as its return caused in 1910-1911.

It is evident that the way this sentence is written, it presents illogical comparison between Halley’s Comet and its return.

From the context of the sentence, we can infer that the sentence intends to present the comparison between all the other sightings of Halley’s Comet and its sighting in 1910-1911.

The basis of the comparison is that Halley’s Comet did create such a worldwide excitement as it did when it came back in 1910-1911.

Error Analysis

Comparison Error leading to Meaning Error

As we can see from the meaning analysis, this sentence compares Halley’s Comet with its return. This is not the logical comparison.

The intended comparison is between the sensation caused by Halley’s Comet in any other sighting and the sensation caused by it in 1910-1911.

Answer Choice Analysis

Choice (A): did its return in 1910-1911

Incorrect as discussed (23% people chose this option)

Choice (B): had its 1910-1911 return

Incorrect

  • Comparison Error leading to Meaning Error

This choice repeats the illogical comparison error we found in Choice A.

  • Verb Error

The use of the helping verb had in the second part of the comparison as a replacement for the verb did cause, used in the first part of the comparison, is incorrect. The sentence must use the helping verb did to replace did cause.

Choice (C): in its return of 1910-1911

Correct

This option correctly presents the intended comparison. The compared entities in this choice are: sensation caused in no other historical sighting and sensation caused in its return of 1910-1911. Note that the usage of the prepositional phrase in its return… after as is correct because the SV pair it did is understood.

Choice (D) its return of 1910-1911 did

Incorrect (16% people chose this option)

Comparison Error leading to Meaning Error

This choice repeats the illogical comparison error we found in Choice A.

Choice (E): its return in 1910-1911

Incorrect (16% people chose this option)

Expression Error

This sentence uses as to present comparison and hence, must be followed by a clause. But the omission of the verb for the subject its return leads to an error.

Most asked queries on this question

We learned in the concept files that when ‘as’ is used for presenting comparison between two entities, that it should have a clause after it. Why is omitting ‘did’ correct in answer choice C?

The concept dealing with the usage of as states that when used for comparison, as should be followed by a clause or a prepositional phrase. In this sentence, we see the second structure.
Keeping did understood in the correct answer choice does not make the intended comparison ambiguous. Hence, it can be omittedQuery on GMAT SC question on Halley's comet

I fail to understand how in the originally sentence, the comparison is made between the comet and its return. While I got that the SV pairs are inverted while for easy understanding the solution made a few tweaks and rephrased the sentence but I am still facing some confusion.Is it possible if you could provide an easy example with a similar construction?

Let me try to explain the comparison presented by the original sentence with the help of this official sentence only. I am breaking the two parts of the comparison in two separate clauses.
Halley’s Comet did not cause such a worldwide sensation in any other historical sighting. Its return caused a worldwide sensation in 1910-1911.
Please note the doer of the action did not cause in the first sentence is Halley’s Comet. But the doer of the action caused in the second sentence is its return. Hence, the comparison is between the comet and its return in the original sentence and in all the incorrect answer choices.Query on GMAT SC question on Halley's comet

People who read this article also read

Let's discuss further - What's your take?

Payal Tandon
Co-founder, e-GMAT
Welcome to e-GMAT Support!
I am Payal, Co-Founder of e-GMAT.
Feel free to ask any Query.
Thank you for your query.
We will be contacting you soon on