In context, which of the following revisions must be made to sentence 1 (reproduced below)?

Taking great notes is one of the best ways to ensure a high grade on a test or exam.

(A) Add “Usually” to the beginning of the sentence.
(B) Add “definitely” after the word “is.”
(C) Change “to ensure” to “of ensuring.”
(D) Change “grade” to “mark.”
(E) Add “normally” to the end of the sentence

The correct answer is (C) but "to ensure" and "of ensuring" both sound right to me. Can someone please explain why the revision was implemented.

  • I see nothing wrong with the sentence as it is. And I get ~173,000,000 results searching for "ways to ensure". – michael.hor257k May 29 '17 at 21:30
  • 2
    The correct answer is whichever one the dodo who wrote the test thinks is correct. – Hot Licks May 29 '17 at 21:49
  • books.google.com/ngrams/… – Hot Licks May 29 '17 at 21:51

This comes down to the difference between "ways of ensuring" and "ways to ensure", which is a subject that has already been discussed on this forum.

In a case like this, where there are multiple ways and there are no possessives involved (no "my ways of doing" or "their ways of doing"), these are just two ways of saying the same thing. Some people say there is no difference in meaning. Those who say there is a difference say that "ways to do" suggests that one is better than the others or that what is being done is more purposeful, whereas "ways of doing" is more neutral.

The difference becomes clearly visible when way is singular. "This is the way to ensure..." is much better than "This is the way of ensuring...". Conversely, when possessives are involved, "my way of doing" is much better than "my way to do", which is downright wrong.

But neither of these considerations apply in the example, so actually revision (C) can be made to the sentence, but none of the revisions must. It seems a strange way to set a question.

  • Your right. I was also boggled by the previous question. – Ian Simons May 29 '17 at 22:14
  • +1 BUT: Although the way to ensure is ordinarily preferred to the way of ensuring, this no longer holds when we're speaking of a way ...! Great Mother English is full of whimsicalities like this. – StoneyB May 29 '17 at 22:36
  • Directions: blah blah blah.... You basically supposed to put a letter underneath the word that doesn't fit grammatically in the sentence . They put a letter underneath "which" ... and i saw no error. I'm not sure whether to doubt myself or the test. Given that these sample questions are from CollegeBoard.org, which is a very credible organization, makes me wonder. The complete link with the aforementioned sample questions is here secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/clep/… – Ian Simons May 29 '17 at 22:42
  • Can someone take a look at the link if they have a chance. It only has about six sample questions. I 'd like to know if I'm right about that last question I just posted too. If so, I'm gonna make sure collegeboard.org is aware of it asap. – Ian Simons May 29 '17 at 22:57
  • I just checked your link. Their directions are pretty clear: "If there is an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct." That doesn't mean that there's an error in each undelined part, in fact it means that only one of the underlined parts should contain an error. That's great in theory, except that in their example both A and B contain errors. There's also an issue with their question 5, where both A and C are correct answers. So someone should take it up with them for sure. – EditingFrank May 30 '17 at 23:10

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