Recently I had to sit a test and one exercise was particularly tricky: all inflected forms of the verb in brackets were removed and I had to fill in with the correct tense. Personally, I don't think such exercise proves much when it comes to evaluating your command of the language as - sometimes - more than one option is correct and it may all depend on your personal interpretation of the text, especially considering the verbs can be modal or negative! In theory it sound easy but in practice... it would be difficult even in my own mother tongue.
I was able to find the text online: "In 1880, it was slow going for Joe Juneau and Richard Harris as they ......... (search) for gold with the help of Native guides. After climbing mountains, forging streams and facing countless difficulties, they found nuggets "as large as beans."
My entry was "were searching" which, needless to say, was considered incorrect. The correct answer was "searched". Is there a big difference between the two forms (in this specific context)? If so, do you have any tips so I won't make the same mistake again in the future (since I am considering a resit.