GMAT Factors Problem – 700 Level GMAT Question

GMAT Factors Problem

Hey guys! Today we’re going to take a look at one of my favorite problems. It’s abstract, it’s oddly phrased and in fact the hardest part for many folks on this problem is simply understanding what’s being asked for. The difficulty is that it’s written in math speak. It’s written in that very abstract, clinical language that if you haven’t studied advanced math might be new to you.

How this breaks down is they’re giving us this product from 1 to 30, which is the same as 30!. 30*29*28 all the way down the line. Or you can build it up 1*2*3*……*29*30.

The Most Difficult Part of The GMAT Problem

And then they’re asking this crazy thing about how many k such that three to the k. What they’re asking here is how many factors of three are embedded in this massive product. That’s the hard part! Figuring out how many there are once you have an algorithm or system for it is fairly straightforward. If we lay out all our numbers from 1 to 30. And we don’t want to sit there and write them all, but just imagine that number line in your head. 1 is not divisible by 3. 2 is not divisible by 3, 3 is. 4 isn’t. 5 isn’t. 6 is. In fact, the only numbers in this product that concern us are those divisible by 3. 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30.

Important Notes About Factors

Here it’s important to note that each of these components except the three alone has multiple prime factors. The three is just a three. The six is three and a two. The nine notice has a second factor of three. Three times three is nine and because we’re looking at the prime factors it has two. It’s difficult to get your head around but there are not three factors of three in nine when you’re counting prime factors.

Three factors of three would be 3 by 3 by 3 = 27. So notice that 3 and 6 have a single factor. 9 has a double factor. Every number divisible by 3 has one factor. Those divisible by 9 like 9, 18 and 27 are going to have a second factor and those divisible by 27, that is 3 cubed, are going to have a third factor. If we lay it out like this we see ten numbers have a single factor. Another of those three provide a second bringing us to thirteen. Finally, one has a third bringing us to fourteen. Answer choice: C.

GMAT Problem Form

So let’s take a look at this problem by writing a new one just to reinforce the algorithm. For the number 100 factorial. How many factors of seven are there? So first we ask ourselves out of the 100 numbers which ones even play? 7, 14… 21 so on and so forth. 100 divided by 7 equals 13. So there are 13 numbers divisible by 7 from 1 to 100. Of those how many have more than one factor of 7? Well we know that 7 squared is 49. So only those numbers divisible by 49 have a second factor. 49 and 98. There are none that have three factors of 7 because 7 cubed is 343. If you don’t know it that’s an identity you should know. So here our answer is 13 plus 2 = 15.

Try a few more on your own. This one’s great to do as a problem form and take a look at the links below for other abstract number theory, counting prime type problems as well as a selection of other really fun ones. Thanks for watching guys and we’ll see you soon.

If you enjoyed this GMAT factors problem, here is an additional number theory type problem to try next: Wedding Guest Problem.

 

 

 

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