In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.

A. did its return in 1910–1911

B. had its 1910–1911 return

C. in its return of 1910–1911

D. its return of 1910–1911 did

E. its return in 1910–1911

In-depth Explanation and Correct Answer Below (so you don’t see it while reviewing the question)

in no other historical sighting did halley's comet

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet… Explanation

This is primarily a comparisons question so let’s make sure we:

1. Identify what is being compared.

2. Keep the items compared as parallel as possible.

So, what’s being compared? 

no other historical sighting vs its return in 1910-1911

Did you identify that the first time you approached this? Most people miss that one. And often that’s what causes the struggle on this and other challenging comparison questions.

Be strict and really push yourself to understand the comparison. And make sure it makes sense. That you are actually comparing things that are related. It should click and not feel forced.

On easy/medium ones you might get by with a less rigorous approach but if you want to be an SC superstar aim to identify all comparisons.

Are the items parallel?

Nope. no other historical sighting doesn’t match did its return in 1910–1911. The latter has a verb in front of it.

With this form it almost seems like Halley’s and its return are the two items in the comparison.

So any of the choices that add an extra verb on the second item (its return…) are incorrect.

You might be thinking: wait a minute! There’s a verb after no other historical sighting!

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet

Yes, but it’s related to Halley’s. The historical sighting didn’t do anything. Halley’s comet did.

In our GMAT tutoring program we call this a “verb v. no verb” issue because you need to decide whether the extra verb is appropriate.

More insight below.

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910-1911.

(A) did its return in 1910-1911

To correct structure is: Halley’s did X vs Y.

So Halley’s is doing the action. So Halley’s gets the verb and the other items don’t.

This is what we call a verb v no verb decision.

Again, you want your X and Y to be parallel in structure. So either they both have verbs or neither has one. This is similar to: Bill plays tennis better than golf. Neither tennis nor golf have verbs attached. Again, it’s Bill doing the action.

Bill = Halley’s

Tennis = no other historical sighting

Golf = its return

In the same vein, neither “no other historical sighting” nor “its return” need verbs. 

Also, a smaller but helpful issue: the missing the IN X as IN Y structure.

In parallel structures always take a look at the prepositions. Usually you need to match them. 

(B) had its 1910-1911 return

Verb v No Verb issue. Missing “In”.

(C) in its return of 1910-1911

(D) its return of 1910-1911 did

Verb v No Verb issue. Missing “In”.

(E) its return in 1910-1911

Verb v No Verb issue. Missing “In”.

Correct Answer: C

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet Wrap-Up

Here are the big takeaways for this question that you can apply elsewhere especially on comparisons puzzles:

1. Always identify exactly what is being compared making sure the comparison really clicks. If you’re forcing it then you might be comparing the wrong things.

2. Check for parallelism in your comparisons. The two issues that come up a lot are verb v. no verb and like things.

3. Follow the prepositions in parallel structures. More often than not those prepositions need to match.

Additional Challenging GMAT Sentence Correction Comparison Questions

Inuits of the bering sea were in isolation from contact with europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the north pacific and northern Alaska.

One of the primary distinctions between our intelligence

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.

For some SC guidance, here’s a link to a breakdown of GMAT sentence correction.