They met a lot of new people or they met many new people has the exact same meaning and should be accepted.
Is the "a" in this sentence the personal "a" because we are talking about people or is it in the sentence because it has to go with "conocer"?
I would say that got to know is more a colloquialism that would be directly translated into the Spanish version of familiarize. It's not the same as meeting. But I'm not a Spanish expert
"They met many new people" was not accepted Feb 7 2019 - and "many" really should be, because "a lot" is really not as correct English as "many". Consider that "a lot" in one sense means a parcel. For example, a lot of land - doesn't primarily mean an abundance of land, it means a segment of land or a plot. You build a house on a lot. The first meaning was originally ‘a portion assigned to someone’. It has taken on meaning a large amount - but in some instances that is colloquial. In English a lot and many are certainly the same, and in this translation they are certainly the case. But as a translation, mucho and much must have the same original derivation, and much (as in much more) and many are more similar in meaning a larger amount, than a lot. Many English teachers would suggest that many is the preferred word to use in this sentence.
In Spanish, the past tense (preterit) of "conocer" means "met."
I think maybe to say "They knew a lot of people," you'd have to use the past tense (imperfect) of "saber." But I'm not certain about that. Any native speakers want to help?
I'm not sure but the way I've heard it used by native speakers is "gente" is used sort of the way Americans use the word "folks."
Shouldn't ellas be accepted as well as ellos? Gender wasn't specified.