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Assignment 4

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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

GMAT MANUAL

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

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).

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 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.

(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).

GMAT MANUAL

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.

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

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) 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.

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

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

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.

GMAT MANUAL

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

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

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) 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).

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.

11!

2!

4!

2!

4!

6!

3!

6!

Assignment 4

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

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.

GMAT MANUAL

SUMMARY

Exponents

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

the original fraction.

Roots

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

3+ 5 = 3+ 5

• 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.

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

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

GMAT MANUAL

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

–y, then what is the value of x?

–3

–2

0

2

3

x!

of values for which is an integer?

y!

x>y

x≥ y

x<y

x≤ y

x=0

Assignment 4

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

Gets bigger Gets smaller Stays the same

1

4

164

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