GMAT 3D Geometry Problem – GMAT Math – Quant Section

GMAT 3D Geometry Problem

In this problem we’re going to take a look at 3D objects and in particular a special problem type on the GMAT that measures the longest distance within a three-dimensional object. Typically, they give you rectangular solids, but they can also give you cylinders and other such objects. The key thing to remember about problems like this one is that effectively we’re stacking Pythagorean theorems to solve it – we’re finding triangles and then triangles within triangles that define the longest distance.

This type of problem is testing your spatial skills and a graphic or visual aid is often helpful though strictly not necessary. Let’s take a look at how to solve this problem and because it’s testing these skills the approach is generally mathematical that is there is some processing because it’s secondary to what they’re actually testing.

GMAT 3D Geometry Problem Introduction

So, we have this rectangular solid and it doesn’t matter which way we turn it – the longest distance is going to be between any two opposite corners and you can take that to the bank as a rule: On a rectangular solid the opposite corners will always be the longest distance. Here we don’t have any way to process this central distance so, what we need to do is make a triangle out of it.

Notice that the distance that we’re looking for along with the height of 5 and the hypotenuse of the 10 by 10 base will give us a right triangle. We can apply Pythagoras here if we have the hypotenuse of the base. We’re working backwards from what we need to what we can make rather than building up. Once you’re comfortable with this you can do it in either direction.

Solving the Problem

In this case we’ve got a 10 by 10 base. It’s a 45-45-90 because any square cut in half is a 45-45-90 which means we can immediately engage the identity of times root two. So, 10, 10, 10 root 2. 10 root 2 and 5 makes the two sides. We apply Pythagoras again. Here it’s a little more complicated mathematically and because you’re going in and out of taking square roots and adding and multiplying, you want to be very careful not to make a processing error here.

Careless errors abound particularly when we’re distracted from the math and yet we need to do some processing. So, this is a point where you just want to say “Okay, I’ve got all the pieces, let me make sure I do this right.” 10 root 2 squared is 200 (10 times 10 is 100, root 2 times root 2 is 2, 2 times 100 is 200). 5 squared is 25. Add them together 225. And then take the square root and that’s going to give us our answer. The square root of 225 is one of those numbers we should know. It’s 15, answer choice A.

Okay guys for another 3D and Geometry problem check out GMAT 680 Level Geometry Problem – No Math Needed! We will see you next time.