More and more in recent years, cities are stressing the arts as a means to greater economic development and investing millions of dollars in cultural activities, despite strained municipal budgets and fading federal support.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)


Sentence Analysis

As you begin reading the sentence, you must pay attention to the initial clause modifier “more and more in recent years”. One thing you can learn from this sentence is that this use is correct. Many people, I believe, are not comfortable with this phrasing “more and more”, and that too at the beginning of the sentence. So, something to learn from here. Don’t reject an option statement in the future just because it uses similar phrasing. And in general, pay attention to how things are phrased in the non-underlined parts of the sentences; you may learn many new things from the non-underlined parts too, especially regarding what all is considered acceptable on GMAT SC.

The sentence then says what cities are doing. Cities are:

  1. stressing the arts as a mean to greater economic development
  2. investing millions of dollars in xyz, despite abc (xyz and abc are somethings I read once cursorily to make sure they are not completely out of the world (since if they seem out of the world, it means that I haven’t understood something in the sentence). After I have read them, they are just xyz for me.)

Everything seems to be fine with this sentence. The sentence clearly communicates the two things cities are doing, and the two things are perfectly parallel. Also, the initial modifier ‘more and more in recent years’ logically modifies these two actions “are stressing” and “are investing”.

There is no error in the original sentence.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct.

(B) Incorrect. “economically” means “inexpensively”. Clearly, we are talking about economic development and not some inexpensive development. Besides, “economically” is an adverb; it is not clear what is it modifying here.

(C) Incorrect. “invest” is not parallel to “stressing”.

(D) Incorrect. This option inherits the errors from both options B and C.

(E) Incorrect. “the investment of” is not parallel “stressing”. As is, “the investment” is parallel to “the arts”, meaning that the cities are stressing the investment of millions of dollars. Clearly, option A sounds more logical than this option, in terms of meaning. 

While I know that other test prep companies say that “means of” is incorrect in this context and that “means for” is always incorrect, I am not sure. In my research, I have found both “means of” and “means for” used in the same way as “means to” in the above sentence, and my research included two sources: and However, the fact that these phrases are used in these ways by WSJ or NYTIMES does not mean that these uses are deemed correct on GMAT. Therefore, I would not like to take any sides in this debate.

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