GMAT Challenge Question: Bet You “Kant” Pick The Correct Idiom…

GMAT PrepHello again, everyone!  It’s time for another GMAT Challenge Question, this time from the verbal side of the exam.  Try your hand at this Sentence Correction question, log your answers and explanations in the comments field, and we’ll be back with the official solution and an important lesson regarding GMAT Sentence Correction.

By the way, we have loads more practice questions available in our free GMAT practice test! It’s free to anyone who registers on our site. If you’re just getting started with your GMAT prep, taking a full-length, computer-adaptive practice GMAT is a a great way to get a feel for the exam and get an idea of the stamina you’ll want to build up before you take the real thing.

And now, for today’s GMAT Challenge Question:

Immanuel Kant’s writings, while praised by many philosophers for their brilliance and consistency, are characterized by sentences so dense and convoluted as to pose a significant hurdle for many readers interested in his works.

A) so dense and convoluted as to pose
B) so dense and convoluted they posed
C) so dense and convoluted that they posed
D) dense and convoluted enough that they posed
E) dense and convoluted enough as they pose

Check back later for the answer and explanation!

UPDATE: Solution
Thanks, everyone, for your comments and answers!  As always, the two most popular answer choices were A and C, so let’s break those down.  While the idiom in A “so dense as to pose” may seem a bit awkward (as many posted, you were looking for the more-familiar “so dense that…”, it’s not incorrect.

What we do know to be incorrect is the verb tense of “posed” in B, C, and D.  Have these sentences and writings ceased to be difficult?  Not likely, and we are provided with the indicative-tense verb “are characterized” earlier in the sentence, so it’s safe to say that these dense, convoluted sentences still do pose a challenge to readers.  Accordingly, the past-tense “posed” is incorrect.

E has a fatal meaning problem – to say that the sentences are “dense and convoluted enough as they pose” is to say that they’re dense and convoluted while they pose (during the duration of the posing), and that’s illogical.  It’s not that they’re dense while the reader is reading – they’re just dense in general.  Furthermore, the word “enough” is then left without a logical role in the sentence.  Is there a level of sufficiency for the density of a sentence?  Even if so, it’s dense enough “to do what?”.  E has a fatally flawed meaning, leaving us with A.

As it turns out, the idiom “so dense and convoluted as to pose…” is a correct way to express that situation.  To many test-takers, however, it seems off for some reason.  What you can learn from this example is that we’re simply not great at choosing correct/incorrect idioms!  There are far too many idioms to know them all, and far too many for business schools to even care whether you can memorize them all.  Your role in these questions is to think and problem-solve like a manager, and an effective manager will look for decisions points at which he can make an effective impact without allowing himself to be mired in areas out of his range of expertise.  On these questions, look for regularly-occurring decision points like verbs (tenses and subject-verb agreement) and pronouns (numerical agreement) as many did here.  Those who did correctly selected choice A…congratulations to you!