Rivaling the pyramids of Egypt or even the ancient cities of the Maya as an achievement, the army of terra-cotta warriors created to protect Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, in his afterlife is more than 2,000 years old and took 700,000 artisans more than 36 years to complete.
(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)
The sentence starts with a verb-ing modifier. So, we expect something that rivals:
- the pyramids of Egypt
- or the ancient cities of the Maya
As we read the sentence, we encounter “the army of terra-cotta warriors”. It seems to be an army of people, so we cannot say that it rivals pyramids. However, as we read the remaining sentence, we can understand that the army talked about is not an army of people since “an army of people” cannot be created by artisans! So, most probably, this army refers to a chain of constructions (which can logically be created by artisans), and such a chain can rival the pyramids. So, within the context of the argument, the original modification seems fine.
The army of terra-cotta warriors was created to protect China’s first emperor in his afterlife; this army is more than 2000 years old, and took 700,000 artisans more than 36 years to complete.
Everything appears to be fine with the original sentence.
(B) Incorrect. Everything’s fine with this option except that China’s emperor cannot rival the pyramids. The beginning modification (rivalling the pyramids…) is incorrect.
(C) Incorrect. The beginning modifier “rivalling…” seems to modify the placeholder “it”. Thus, this option has a modifier error.
(D) Incorrect. The beginning modifier “rivalling…” seems to modify either “more than 2000 years” or “artisans”. Neither of these modifications makes any sense. Thus, this option has a modifier error.
(E) Incorrect. The beginning modifier “rivalling…” seems to modify “more than 36 years”. Thus, this option has a modifier error.
This question is one of those few SC questions which can be solved without reading the full sentence. If you just tried to match the beginning modifier with a relevant entity, you’d be able to eliminate four options and thus arrive at the correct answer. In cases like this, in which the sentence is a long one and the error appears right at the beginning, one can skip reading the whole sentence to save time.