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Assignment 4

EXPONENTS, ROOTS, AND FACTORING


In this lesson, we’ll review the rules for working with exponents, roots, and
quadratic expressions.

DISTRIBUTION
Let’s look at a mathematical rule that is useful for working many GMAT
problems.
Work the following examples:
4×8=
4(3 + 5) =
(4 × 3) + (4 × 5) =
What did you notice about all three of the problems above? The solution to
each one is 32. For the second example, you added 3 and 5, then multiplied the
sum by 4. In the third example, you multiplied first and then added the products.
These examples illustrate the distributive rule. You can use this property when
two numbers that are being added or subtracted have common factors. As we’ll
see in this lesson, the distributive property is especially helpful when you need to
simplify because it lets you factor out a common term. The distributive rule states:

ab + ac = a(b + c) (2 × 4) + (2 × 7) = 2( 4 + 7)

ab – ac = a(b – c) (2 × 7) − (2 × 4) = 2(7 − 4)

EXPONENTS
Exponents are a shorthand notation for repeated multiplication. Exponents tell
us to multiply a number or a variable by itself a certain number of times. For
example, 5 × 5 × 5 can also be written as 53.

Basic Rules
There are three basic rules to remember about exponents.
When multiplying terms with the same base, add the exponents:
x4 • x3 = x7
63 • 62 = 65
When dividing terms with the same base, subtract the exponents:

7
 
 3 4
x 8
   
= x 3 and =  3
x5 3  
 
 3
 

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GMAT MANUAL

When an expression with an exponent is raised to another exponent, multiply


the exponents:
(x3)2 = x6 and (64)3 = 612
When in doubt, expand it What happens if you forget one of the rules? You can bet that ETS will fill the
out. answer choices with every wrong thing that you could have done. There’s a
way around that, however. Take a look at the last example. You could rewrite
it as:
(x • x • x) • (x • x • x) = x6
Let’s try a few problems.

( )y
3
8 y2 6

1. If y ≠ 0, then =
2y 3 y 2
4y30
8y7
4y6
4y7
8y30

Let’s start with the numerator. First, multiply the exponents raised to a higher
power, (y2)3 = y6. That makes the top 8y6y6. Now, add the exponents to get 8y12.
8 y 12
For the bottom, add the exponents to get 2y5. Now we have . Since we’re
2y 5
dividing, we need to subtract the exponents and reduce the numbers, which
leaves 4y7 . The answer is (D).

2. The number 706 is how many times the number 356?


2
6
9
35
64
The values in this problem make it impractical to multiply out the terms.
Exponent problems like this may seem difficult, but they become easier if you
rearrange the information. Translating the problem into an equation gives us
706 = 356x. When you see a problem like this, rewrite the numbers in comparable
terms. Since 70 is the same as 2 × 35, we can rewrite the equation as (2 × 35)6 =
356x. Remember the distributive property we discussed earlier? It works for
exponents, so we distribute the exponent to get 26 × 356 = 356x. This version of
the equation tells us that 26 = x. Since 26 is 64, the answer is (E).

122 | © Princeton Review Management, L. L. C.


Assignment 4

Negative Exponents

x6
What if you had to simplify an expression such as ? Subtracting the exponents
x8
gives:

x6 1
= x6 – 8 = x–2 =
8
x x2
A negative sign in the exponent means reciprocal. If you need to work with a
negative exponent, put the whole expression under 1 (as above) and change the
negative exponent to a positive one.
1
In this case, x2 and x–2 are reciprocal expressions because • x2 = 1
x2
Try this one:
33 • 3–3 =
1 1
We could rewrite the problem as 33 • 3 = 27 • = 1 . We could also use the
3 27
rule that allows us to add exponents that have the same base. That gives us
x3 – 3 = x0 = 1. In fact, anything to the zero power is 1. That’s a pretty special and
important fact to remember about exponents. Here are some other important
exponent facts:

Any nonzero number to the zero power equals 1. (50 = 1)


Any number to the first power equals itself. (51 = 5)
One to any power equals 1. (137 = 1)
Zero to any nonzero power equals 0. (037 = 0)

By the way, zero to the zero power is undefined. That’s why we had to word
a few of those rules carefully. That’s one fact, however, that’s not tested on the
GMAT.
Try the problem below.

3. If x ≠ 0 and p is an integer, then what is the value of xp ?


(1) p = p2
(2) p < 1
Statement (1) tells us that either p = 0 or p = 1. Those are the only values that
could make the statement true. Since we have two possible values, BCE.
Statement (2) by itself doesn’t really tell us much. The value of p could be 0 but
it could also be lots of other numbers. Cross off (B). When we put the statements
together, we know that p = 0 and hence the value of xp must be 1, so the answer
is (C).

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GMAT MANUAL

Most of us tend to think of exponents as operations that make numbers bigger.


However, note that this is not true for all numbers. When you raise a number
between 0 and 1 to a positive power, the number gets smaller. ETS is hoping
that you’ll forget this important fact.
For example:

2
 1 12 1 , and 1 is smaller than 1 .
  = =
 2 22 4 4 2

4. Is x > 0?
(1) x2 > 0
(2) x5 < 0
Statement (1) doesn’t help us because both positive and negative numbers
become positive when they are squared. For example, x could be 2 or –2. So,
BCE. Statement (2), on the other hand, tells us that x must be negative. For
example, x could be –2 or –3. That tells us that the answer to the question is
“no.” Hence, the answer is (B).
It’s also important to remember how negative numbers work when raising
them to powers.
• A negative number raised to an odd power is negative.
• A negative number raised to an even power is positive.

Quick Quiz: Exponents


What happens to each of the following values when raised to the indicated
power?
Gets bigger Gets smaller Stays the same

(–26)2

(–4)5

(–0.14)4

(0)100

(1)0

(1)–2

(0.52)3

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Assignment 4

Scientific Notation
Scientific notation is a way to write very big or very small numbers using powers
of 10. When dealing with scientific notation, the exponent for the power of 10
can be either positive or negative.
A positive exponent means to move the decimal to the right by a number of
places represented by the exponent.
7.8 × 105 = 780,000
A negative exponent means to move the decimal to the left by a number of
places represented by the exponent.
2.3 × 10–4 = .00023
When multiplying or dividing numbers expressed in scientific notation, work
the exponent part separately from the number part.

1.872 × 102
5. =
5.2 × 10 6
3.06 × 10–5
3.6 × 10–5
3.6 × 10–3
3.6 × 104
3.06 × 104

First, notice that you can use POE. Using the exponent rules for division, it is
10 2
clear that the exponent will be negative ( 6 = 10−4 ). Eliminate (D) and (E).
10
Since 1.872 divided by 5.2 gives .36, simply rewrite .36 × 10–4 as 3.6 × 10–5. (Since
the decimal point was moved one place to the right, we needed to increase the
exponent from –4 to –5.) The answer is (B).

ROOTS
Square roots are the flip side of exponents. For example, 9 indicates that some
number times itself equals 9. Since we know that 32 = 9, 9 = 3.
Here’s how a typical GMAT problem might test your understanding of roots:

1. What is the value of x?


(1) x2 + 1 = 17
(2) x = 16

Statement (1) tells us that x could be either 4 or –4, so BCE. Statement (2) tells
us that x must be 4, so the correct answer is (B). A square root is defined as the
positive root only.
There are a few important rules to keep in mind when working with
expressions that contain roots.

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GMAT MANUAL

You can add expressions with roots if they have the same number under the
radical sign:

2 7+4 7 =6 7
Essentially, you are adding like terms, just as if you were adding 2x + 4x.
However, just as you can’t add x + y, you can’t add values with different numbers
under the radical sign.
To multiply roots, first multiply the numbers outside the radical sign, and
then multiply the numbers under the radical sign:

3 6 ⋅ 2 3 = (3 × 2) 6 × 3 = 6 18
Finally, simplify the expression, if possible. To simplify expressions with roots,
factor out perfect squares. (Perfect squares are the squares of integers.)

6 18 = 6 9 ⋅ 2 = 6 × 9 × 2 = 6 × 3 × 2 = 18 2
To divide, combine the expressions, then divide:

60 60
= = 20 = 4 ⋅ 5 = 2 5
3 3

That also means that if you need to take the root of a fraction, you can take
the root of the top divided by the root of the bottom.

4 4 2
= =
25 25 5

ETS observes the convention that it’s improper to leave a root in the bottom
of a fraction. If a solution to a GMAT question has a radical sign in the bottom of
a fraction, you’ll need to rework the expression. You know that multiplying
anything by 1 does not change the value, so you can multiply by a special form
of 1. Form a fraction by placing that improper root in the top and the bottom of
the new fraction and then multiply. For example:

1 1 3 3
= ⋅ =
3 3 3 3

A GMAT answer choice would look like the final form of the expression. This
process is called rationalizing the denominator.

2
 
1. What is the value of  2 3 + 4 3  ?
 

6 3
18
108
180
324

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Assignment 4

We first add the roots inside the parentheses. That gives us 6 3 . Now we
square both parts of that expression. 36 × 3 = 108, which is answer choice (C).

 
3 3 + 8 6 + 3
 
2. =
4 3

3 3 +2 6

3 3 + 2 6 +1

1+ 2 2

3+2 6

4 3 +2 2

Normally, we’d add up the expressions in parentheses first. However, since


we can’t add roots with different numbers under the radical sign, we’ll make
use of the fact that addition can be done in any order.

 
3 3 + 8 6 + 3 4 3 +8 6
 
=
4 3 4 3
Now, we’ll split that into two fractions and use the division rule.

4 3 +8 6 4 3 8 6 6
= + = 1+ 2 = 1+ 2 2
4 3 4 3 4 3 3
That gives us answer choice (C).
There’s one more thing to remember about roots. Look what happens when
we take the square root of a number between 0 and 1.

1 1 1
= =
4 4 2
When you take the square root of a number between 0 and 1, you get a bigger
number.

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GMAT MANUAL

Quick Quiz: Roots


What happens to each of the following numbers when you find its square root?
Gets bigger Gets smaller Stays the same

1
4

164

Fractional Exponents
Suppose that we wanted to simplify an expression such as the following:
(x2)y = x
1
Multiplying the exponents gives x2y = x, so 2y = 1. Hence, y = . What does
2
1
y 2 mean? It means the square root of y. In general, fractional exponents tell you

to take nth roots. In other words:

1 1
3
x2 = x x3 = x
1 1
3
92 = 9 = 3 27 3 = 27 = 3

QUADRATICS
Quadratic equations involve exponents. You need to know how to multiply two
terms to create a quadratic equation, and you need to now how to reverse the
process by factoring a quadratic equation into its parts.

FOIL
You probably haven’t done this since high school. FOIL stands for First, Outside,
Inside, Last, and it is the method used to multiply two algebraic terms.
Here’s an example:
(x – 5) (x + 8) =

Firsts: (x – 5) (x + 8) = x2

Outsides: (x – 5) (x +8) = x2 + 8x

Insides: (x – 5) (x + 8) = x2 + 8x – 5x
128 | © Princeton Review Management, L. L. C.
Assignment 4

Lasts: (x – 5) (x + 8) = x2 + 8x – 5x – 40

Combine the middle terms, and your final answer is x2 + 3x – 40.

Finding Factors
If you already have the quadratic equation, reverse the FOIL process to find the
factors. Follow these steps to factor x2 + 4x – 12.
Set up the parentheses:
x2 + 4x – 12 = ( )( )
2
Find the first parts. To get x , the F in FOIL must have been x multiplied by x:
x2 + 4x – 12 = (x )(x )
Find the last parts. We need two numbers that have a product of 12. The
possibilities are (1, 12), (2, 6), and (3, 4). Since the middle term is 4x, the factors
must have either a sum or a difference of 4. So, we need 6 and 2.
x2 + 4x – 12 = (x 2)(x 6)
Determine the signs of the two numbers. Since we need a positive 4, the 6
needs to be positive and the 2 needs to be negative.
x2 + 4x – 12 = (x – 2)(x + 6)

Finding Roots
Factoring a quadratic allows us to solve for x. Solving for x in a quadratic is
called finding the roots or solutions. Let’s go back to the previous example:
x2 + 4x = 12
First, move the numbers and the variables to one side of the equation.
Quadratics need to be set to zero before it’s possible to find the roots by factoring.
x2 + 4x – 12 = 0
Second, factor the quadratic.
x2 + 4x – 12 = 0 = (x – 2)(x + 6)
Finally, we know the product of the factors must be 0, and it’s only possible
to get a product of 0 if one of the factors is 0. Therefore, we need to set each term
equal to 0 and solve.
If (x – 2) = 0, x = 2.
If (x + 6) = 0, x = –6.
Thus, the roots of this equation are –6 and 2.

1. What is the value of x?


(1) x2 + 3x – 40 = 0
(2) x2 – 10x + 25 = 0
The first equation has two roots, 5 and –8. Hence, BCE. The second equation
factors to (x – 5) (x – 5) = 0. Since both factors are the same, its only root is 5.
Therefore, the answer to the question is (B).

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GMAT MANUAL

Common Quadratics
ETS has three quadratic polynomials of which they are especially fond. Memorize
these so that you won’t actually have to do the FOIL method when you see
them.

(x + y)2 = x2 + 2xy + y2

(x – y)2 = x2 – 2xy + y2

(x + y)(x – y) = x2 – y2

These patterns are really helpful in certain situations, such as this problem:

2. (325)2 – (324)2 =
1
324
325
649
650
ETS expects you will do the calculation and waste a lot of time. Notice,
however, that this problem has the form x2 – y2, so we can rewrite it as (325 +
324) (325 – 324) = (649)(1) = 6 49, which is answer choice (D).

FACTORIALS
The factorial symbol (!) is used when you need to multiply an integer by all the
positive integers that are less than it. For example:
8! = 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1
n! = (n) × (n – 1) × (n – 2) × … × 1
ETS sometimes throws factorials into questions to try to make them appear
to be more work than they actually are. Don’t be thrown off. Most factorial
questions can be solved either by reducing or by breaking the question down
into simple parts.

3. What is the value of 12! ?


11!

2!
4!
2!
4!
6!
3!
6!

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Assignment 4

Obviously, we wouldn’t want to compute 12! and then divide it by

11! That would take too long. If we write out the problem, we get
12 × 11 × 10 × 9 × 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1
. Everything but the 12 in the numerator
11 × 10 × 9 × 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1
cancels out, leaving us with 12. Of course, now we have to compute the answer

choices. You’ll find answer choice (B) works out to 12.


Here are a few helpful things to remember about factorials when dealing
with factorials.

0! = 1! = 1

0! and 1! are the only odd factorials because all other factorials
have 2 as a factor.

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GMAT MANUAL

SUMMARY
Exponents

• When multiplying, add the exponents: x4 • x3 = x7


x8
• When dividing, subtract the exponents: 5 = x 3
x
• When raising an exponent to a power, multiply the exponents: (x3)2 = x6

• x0 = 1
1
• Negative exponents are used to show reciprocals: x − y =
xy 1
• Fractional exponents are another way of expressing roots. x 2 = x

• A fraction between 0 and 1 raised to a positive integer it/ômaller than


the original fraction.

Roots

• The sum or difference of roots can be simplified only when they have

the same number under the radical sign: 3 + 5 3 = 6 3 but

3+ 5 = 3+ 5

• To multiply roots, use this general formula: a r × b s = ab r × s

• To divide roots, take the root formed by the fraction of the two
x x
numbers: =
y y
• The square root of a number between 0 and 1 is larger than the

original number.

Quadratics
• To find the factors of a quadratic, use the FOIL method (Firsts,
Outsides, Insides, Lasts).
• The roots of an equation are the solutions. To find the roots of a
quadratic, move all terms to the left-hand side (leaving 0 by itself on
the right-hand side), then factor the quadratic polynomial. Set each of
its factors equal to zero and then solve.

Factorials
• The definition of a factorial (!) is: n! = (n) × (n – 1) × (n – 2) × . . . × 1.
• When working with factorials, look for ways to rearrange the
information.

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Assignment 4

DRILL

1. Which of the following is the smallest four-digit 5. If 65x = 32 × 52 × 13, which of the following is not
integer that is divisible by the first three prime a factor of x?
numbers? 3
120 6
150 9
1020 13
1025 15
1060 6. What is the value of x3?
3
2. Is integer x a multiple of 3? (1) x is prime.
3
(1) The sum of the digits of x is 27. (2) x is even.
(2) x is a factor of 9990.
7. Which of the following equations has 7 and 2 as
x + 2x − 8
2 roots?
3. =
x2 − 6x + 8 x2 – 9x + 14 = 0
x2 + 14 = 0
1 x2 + 9x + 14 = 0
x2 – 7 = 0
–1 x2 + 5x – 14 = 0

8. If a > 0 and b > 0, which of the following is


1
x
3 a a
equivalent to ÷ ?
x+4 b b2
x−4 1
x +8
a
x −8
b
4. After a recent stock split, a software tycoon
a
finds that he owns 1.2 × 109 shares in his
company. He decides to sell an average of 2.5 × 1
106 shares per month. If each share is worth an
average of $25, what are his net proceeds from a
the sale of stock for the year?
1
2.5 × 107
7.5 × 107 b
2.5 × 108
7.5 × 108
1.25 × 109 9. If n
(−64) = −4 (−64) = −4, then what is the value
n

of n?
2
3
4
5
6

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GMAT MANUAL

13. If x is an integer, what is the value of x?


1
10. = 3
3
y (1) x 2 = 8
(2) x(x – 2) = 8
3
y
14. If a > 0, what is the value of axay?
3
y2
(1) x = –y
3 (2) a = 2 and x – y = 6
y
y
15. If a = 4, what is the value of c?
(1) (abc)4 = (ab2c3)2
3
y2
(2) b = 5
y2

3
y2
y

11. If 2x2 – 2x – 12 = 0 and y2 – 5y + 6 = 0 when x =


–y, then what is the value of x?
–3
–2
0
2
3

12. Which of the following gives the complete range


x!
of values for which is an integer?
y!
x>y
x≥ y
x<y
x≤ y
x=0

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Assignment 4

ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS


Quick Quiz: Exponents
Gets bigger Gets smaller Stays the same

(–26)2

(–4)5

(– 0.14)4

(0)100

(1)0

(1)–2

(0.52)3

Quick Quiz: Roots


Gets bigger Gets smaller Stays the same

1
4

164

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