According to a recent study of consumer spending on prescription medications

Question

According to a recent study of consumer spending on prescription medications, increases in the sales of the 50 drugs that were advertised most heavily accounts for almost half of the $20.8 billion increase in drug spending last year, the remainder of which came from sales of the 9,850 prescription medicines that companies did not advertise or advertised very little.

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)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

Let’s look at the sentence structure:

  • According to a recent study (modifies the main clause)
    • of consumer spending on prescription medications, (prepositional phrase modifying “study”)
  • increases in the sales of the 50 drugs (Main subject – “increases”)
    • that were advertised most heavily (relative clause modifying “drugs”)
  • accounts for almost half of the $20.8 billion increase (Main verb – “accounts”)
    • in drug spending last year, (prepositional phrase modifying “increase”)
  • the remainder of which came from sales of the 9,850 prescription medicines (relative clause modifying “increase in drug spending” or “drug spending”)
    • that companies did not advertise or advertised very little. (relative clause modifying “prescription medicines”)

The sentence essentially says:

Per some study, increases in the sales of the heavily advertised drugs accounted (it has to be accounted, not ‘accounts’ because we are talking about last year) for almost half of the total increase in drug spending last year. The remainder 50% of the increase came from sales of other 9850 drugs that were advertised very little.

In other words, the sentence says:

Increase in sales of heavily advertised 50 drugs = 50% of Total Increase in drug spending = Increase in sales of other 9850 drugs

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. The use of ‘accounts’ is wrong for two reasons. First, it is singular and thus doesn’t agree with the plural subject ‘increases’. Second, it is in present tense. However, we are talking about past as indicated by the use of “last year”.
  2. In “the remainder of which”, the ‘which’ can refer to either “increase in drug spending” or “drug spending”. Even though logically, ‘which’ should refer to “increase in drug spending”, it is better to replace this ambiguous pronoun with the actual noun “increase” as done in the correct option.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “Increase were what accounted” is unnecessarily twisted way to say the same thing as “increases accounted”. Please note that this is not grammatically incorrect but qualitatively not preferable.
  2. The use of semi-colon is incorrect. The part after semi-colon is not an independent clause but a modifier modifying part of the main clause.

(C) Correct. This option corrects both the errors in the original sentence without introducing any new errors.

(D) Incorrect. There is no main verb in the sentence. “accounting” is serving as a verb-ing modifier, not a verb.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. No main verb for the main subject “increases”.
  2. The antecedent for “which” is not clear. Logically, “which” needs to refer to “increases”, which is a very-far-away noun.
  3. The antecedent for ‘it’ is not clear. The same problem as explained in Error no. 2 of the original sentence.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with scores of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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