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[OG Solution] While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica…

In this article, we’ll look at the solution to the 700-level GMAT Official Guide 2022 Sentence Correction question. Here is some general information about this OG question – While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica date to 900–400 B.C., waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attest to the fact that the Mesoamerican ballgame was well established by the mid-thirteenth century B.C.

  • Difficulty Level: Hard
  • Most Common Incorrect option choice: B, C
  • Question Type: Subject-Verb Agreement
While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica...

1. OG question – While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica…

GMAT OG Question: While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica date to 900–400 B.C., waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attest to the fact that the Mesoamerican ballgame was well established by the mid-thirteenth century B.C.

[Refer to the Official guide 2022 for options].

This question is one of those times when we extract the meaning of the sentence and look for errors, and we find that the sentence is logically and grammatically correct. However, this is not always as easy to accept because, by nature, we want to find an error in the original sentence- so how do we make sure? Also, what is the best approach if we think the original sentence is correct? Well, let’s work through the process.

2. OG solution – While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica…

3. Always put the original sentence through a Litmus Test

It is essential that we put every original sentence through the S.C. litmus test. This test includes:

  1. Spend time with the original sentence upfront to extract the logical intended meaning.
  2. Always asking the tough question- “Does this make sense?”
  3. Check for any errors in communication and/or grammar.

So, let’s put this sentence to the test.

3.1 #1 Extracting the Meaning

GMAT OG question - Mesoamerican ballgame

This sentence discusses two pieces of evidence:

1. waterlogged balls and

2. representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics

This evidence proves the existence of ball games by the mid-thirteenth century B.C. in Mesoamerica, although most of the earliest known ball courts date to 900-400 B.C.

The meaning is logically clear. Now, if you are confused by the word “attest” in the sentence- this is the time to ask that next question.

3.2 #2 Does this Make Sense?

Does it make sense to write that “balls” and “representation on ceramics” attest to something? In this case, the meaning of the word attest is “to provide or serve as clear evidence of.”  Thus, the author is communicating here that these balls and representations painted on the ceramics serve as evidence that the ball games existed by the thirteenth century. Archaeologists and historians use artifacts all the time as evidence of the past.

So, check, this usage is logically correct, and the sentence makes absolute sense.

3.3 #3 Checking for Errors

Mesoamerican ballgame gmat question

3.3.1 Logic Test

Now, as we read through the sentence and asked, “Does it make sense?” we extracted the meaning and found the sentence to be logically correct. Now, we need to take another look and make sure that no errors impede the communication of this meaning.

3.3.2 Grammar Test

Now, I always start with my subject-verb pairs and verb tenses because these are the critical building blocks of the sentence. The two subjects, “balls and representations,” take the plural verb “attest.”. The present tense verb works because the artifacts currently provide evidence and will for all time. The two subjects are properly parallel and joined by “and,” and there are no other errors in the sentence.

3.3.3 Test Results

So, our litmus test is complete, and we have no reason to reject the original sentence. So, can we confidently select option A and move on to the next question?

No, always make sure to go through each answer choice and reject them on solid ground. Then and only then can we accept choice A with confidence.

4. A Snapshot of the Answer Choices

A. waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attest

B. waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and the painting of representations of ballplayers on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attests

C. waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and ceramics painted with representations of ballplayers found at San Lorenzo attests

D. the finding of waterlogged latex balls at El Manati and the painting of representations of ballplayers on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attests

E. the finding of waterlogged latex balls at El Manati and of representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics at San Lorenzo attest

Notice, all the subject-verb must agree errors that are screaming out at you. Every option except the original sentence has a subject-verb agreement error, so if we check those basic building blocks of the sentence, it is easy to eliminate options based on such errors quickly.

The second most popular answer choice for this question is option E. Why? If you chose this option, you probably could not embrace the fact that balls and representations painted on ceramics could “attest” to anything, but we have to ask, is it “the finding” that serves as the evidence? Or is it the balls and representations? The finding does not attest to anything- it is what was found that does. So, the balls and the representations must be the subject to maintain the meaning.

Thus, if you were pulled to the subject “the finding,” you did not think about the meaning change here, albeit subtle.

In addition, we have a grammar issue- this singular subject is paired with the plural verb “attest.”  Can the singular “finding” take the plural verb “attest?” Absolutely not.

GMAT OG question - waterlogged latex balls

So, this second most popular choice has a meaning issue and grammar error- a double whammy! Both parts of the litmus test failed.

6. Wrap up

It is vital that we put all original sentences through the three-step litmus test before accepting the original sentence. Remember it is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Spend time with the original sentence to extract the logical intended meaning.
  2. Always asking the tough question- “Does this make sense?”
  3. Check for any errors in communication and/or grammar.

It is equally important to reject the other answer choices on solid ground to accept the original sentence confidently.

See, Sentence Correction can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 if you use the right approach!

Master the Meaning-Based Approach by watching one of our live sessions that explains this process in-depth and provides more practice for you!

Happy Learning! 

Cheers! 

Stacey 

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