Archives For Geometry

GMAT-geometryA couple of months ago, we talked about what to do when a geometry problem pops up on the screen. Do you remember the basic steps? Try to implement them on the below GMATPrep® problem from the free tests.

* ”In the xy-plane, what is the y-intercept of line L?

“(1) The slope of line L is 3 times its y-intercept
“(2) The x-intercept of line L is – 1/3”

My title (3 Steps to Better Geometry) is doing double-duty. First, here’s the general 3-step process for any quant problem, geometry included:

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All geometry problems also have three standard strategies that fit into that process.

First, pick up your pen and start drawing! If they give you a diagram, redraw it on your scrap paper. If they don’t (as in the above problem), draw yourself a diagram anyway. This is part of your Glance-Read-Jot step.

Second, identify the “wanted” element and mark this element on your diagram. You’ll do this as part of the Glance-Read-Jot step, but do it last so that it leads you into the Reflect-Organize stage. Where am I trying to go? How can I get there?

Third, start Working! Infer from the given information. Geometry on the GMAT can be a bit like the proofs that we learned to do in high school. You’re given a couple of pieces of info to start and you have to figure out the 4 or 5 steps that will get you over to the answer, or what you’re trying to “prove.”

Let’s dive into this problem. They’re talking about a coordinate plane, so you know the first step: draw a coordinate plane on your scrap paper. The question indicates that there’s a line L, but you don’t know anything else about it, so you can’t actually draw it. You do know, though, that they want to know the y-intercept. What does that mean?

They want to know where line L crosses the y-axis. What are the possibilities?

Infinite, really. The line could slant up or down or it could be horizontal. In any of those cases, it could cross anywhere. In fact, the line could even be vertical, in which case it would either be right on the y-axis or it wouldn’t cross the y-axis at all. Hmm.
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We need to know a lot of different facts, rules, formulas, and techniques for the quant portion of the test, but there are 4 math strategies that can be used over and over again, across any type of math—algebra, geometry, word problems, and so on.

Do you know what they are?

Try this GMATPrep® problem and then we’ll talk about the first of the four strategies.

* ” If mv < pv < 0, is v > 0?

“(1) m < p

“(2) m < 0”

All set?

How did you do the problem? Most quant questions have more than one possible approach and this one is no exception—but I want to use this problem to talk about a particular technique called Testing Cases.

This question is called a “theory” question: there are just variables, no real numbers, and the answer depends on some characteristic of a category of numbers, not a specific number or set of numbers. When we have these kinds of questions, we can use theory to solve—but that can get very confusing very quickly. Instead, try testing real numbers to “prove” the theory to yourself.

(Note: I chose a particularly tough question for this exercise; testing cases can also be useful and fast on easier questions!)

This problem gives one inequality:

“mv < pv < 0″

The test writers are hoping that you’ll say, “Oh, let’s just divide by v to get rid of it, so the equation is really m < p < 0.” But that’s a trap! Why?

When you divide an inequality by a negative, you have to flip the signs. But you don’t know whether v is positive or negative, so you don’t know whether to flip the signs! Never divide an inequality by a variable if you don’t know the sign of the variable.

The question itself contains a clue (two, actually!) pointing to this trap. The given inequality asks about “< 0” and the question also asks whether v > 0? Less than zero and greater than zero are code for “I’m testing you on positives and negatives.”
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What do you do when you realize a geometry problem has just popped up on the screen? Try this GMATPrep© problem from the free practice test and then we’ll talk about what to do!

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In the figure above, the radius of the circle with center O is 1 and BC = 1. What is the area of triangular region ABC?

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What’s your first step? Let’s use this problem as an opportunity to practice the Quant Process.

 

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At a glance, you can see that the problem provides a diagram. Draw! Make it big enough that you can add labels as you calculate new pieces of information (and, of course, jot down any information given in the problem).

Finally, write down any formulas you’ll need, as well as whatever the problem asks you to find. Your scrap paper might look something like this:
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challenge problem
We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!

Here is this week’s problem:

A set of n identical triangles with angle x° and two sides of length 1 is assembled to make a parallelogram (if n is even) or a trapezoid (if n is odd), as shown. Is the perimeter of the parallelogram or trapezoid less than 10?

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challenge problem
We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!

Here is this week’s problem:

A sheet of paper ABDE is a 12-by-18-inch rectangle, as shown in Figure 1. The sheet is then folded along the segment CF so that points A and D coincide after the paper is folded, as shown in Figure 2 (The shaded area represents a portion of the back side of the paper, not visible in Figure 1). What is the area, in square inches, of the shaded triangle shown?

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challenge problem
We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!
Here is this week’s problem:

If three different integers are selected at random from the integers 1 through 8, what is the probability that the three selected integers can be the side lengths of a triangle?

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challenge problem
We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!
Here is this week’s problem:

In the figure above, ABC is a right triangle with AC as its hypotenuse, and PQRS is a square. What is the area of the square?

(1) AC is 70 units long.

(2) The product of the length of AS and the length of RC is 396.

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gmat similar shapes

Try to solve the following question, and time yourself:

If the volume of a big cube is 64 times that of a small cube, how many times bigger is the surface area of the big cube than that of the small cube?

If you cannot answer the above (classic GMAT) question in under 20 seconds, continue reading and you will learn a concept that will be super useful in your quest to crush the GMAT!

I was watching Austin Powers the other day and it suddenly hit me: Dr. Evil and Mini-Me are similar shapes! You know, like similar triangles, where the proportion between any two matching sides is always maintained “ if Mini-Me’s fingers are exactly half the length of Dr. Evil’s fingers, then Mini-Me’s eyes, ears, nose, and feet must also be exactly half their counterparts in Dr. Evil’s body. It got me thinking “ what other kinds of similar shapes could be out there? I will investigate that thought further in the second half of this post, but first let’s see why that might be useful

We know triangles are similar whenever they have the same three angles. If the base of the bigger triangle is exactly twice that of the smaller triangle, then each side in the bigger triangle will also be twice as big as its matching side in the smaller triangle.
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