While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants

Question

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of power plants, it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes it more expensive for them to generate electricity.

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

If we try to understand the meaning of the sentence, we see that it is presenting a contrast using ‘while’. The sentence structure is: While X, Y. Both X and Y include comparisons.

X: it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of power plants

X says: costs to run nuclear plants = costs to run other types of power plants

Y: it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes it more expensive for them to generate electricity

Y says: Fixed costs from building nuclear plants make the generation of electricity in these plants more expensive than in other types of power plants

The contrast is clear and logical: In the first part, we talk about something that is same; in the second part, we talk about something that leads to difference.

The sentence has the following problems:

  1. Subject Verb disagreement: the singular verb “makes” does not agree with plural subject “fixed costs”. (This is a deterministic error i.e. an error for which alone you can reject an option statement)
  2. The use of two placeholder “it”s in a sentence makes the sentence difficult to understand. (Non-deterministic error)
  3. The use of two “that” clauses one after the other, both referring to the same “fixed costs” makes the structure awkward. (Non-deterministic error)

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned above.

(B) Correct. All the problems in the original sentence have been corrected in this option. The structure of the sentence is clear. The first comparison without ellipsis is:

  • the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as the costs for other types of power plants

Please note that in the second comparison, we have used “more” without ‘than’. Given that this construction appears in the correct option, we can learn that this construction (“more” without ‘than’) is not wrong. You’ll see this construction in other correct SC options too. This construction is allowed when the other part of the comparison is clear. In this case, we know that we are comparing electricity of nuclear plants with electricity of other power plants in terms of their ‘expensiveness’. Therefore, we can skip and have skipped the ‘than’ part in the comparison.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The comparison is worded wrongly. The comparison should be:
    Even though it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as to run other types of power plants.
    The given “for other types..” is not parallel to anything in the first part of the comparison.
  1. Singular verb “makes” does not agree with plural “costs”.
  2. Problems 2 and 3 of the original sentence

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. The antecedent for ‘they’ is not clear; ‘they’ can refer to either nuclear plants or other types of power plants
  3. The use of ‘stemming’ is incorrect. What is stemming from the fixed costs? Nothing. The fixed costs stem from building nuclear plants.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Illogical comparison: The sentence says: Cost of running nuclear plants = Other types of power plants. We can’t compare costs with power plants!
  2. The antecedent for ‘they’ is not clear; ‘they’ can refer to either nuclear plants or other types of power plants
  3. If we are using ‘made’, then the correct way is “is made more expensive by the fixed costs…”. Another correct way is “is more expensive because of the fixed costs”. However, the option mixes these two constructions to create a non-standard and confusing construction.

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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