Today we’re going to look at a GMAT problem that screams for estimation but can really tie you in knots if you don’t have the right pivot question, the right perspective. Of the following which is greatest? And on its surface this would seem like a straightforward question except of course the GMAT being the GMAT they’re going to give you a bunch of numbers that are going to be hard to interpret. One part of this problem is simply training. The square root of 2, the square root of 3, the square root of 5. These are common, especially root 2 and root 3 because we see them a lot on triangle problems.

**Get Familiar With Identities**

And knowing these identities by heart as an estimate is really, really valuable just for being able to get a bearing whether you’re on a geometry problem and you’re trying to navigate or make sure that your answer seems correct or if you’re in a problem like this knowing these identities root 2 is 1.4, root 3 is 1.7, root 5 is 2.2 is useful as a touchstone.

**Break Down The Problem**

But this problem in general and the greater problem can be broken down not by saying oh well this is 1.4, this is 1.7, but by asking ourselves well logically which is bigger which is smaller. Remember it’s a multiple choice exam and they’re asking for the biggest or the smallest or whatever it is but these are opportunities to compare not nail down knowledge and this attitude is exceptionally vital for the data sufficiency but it crops up in problem solving a lot more than people might care to admit.

Especially if you’ve been there just trying to study and study and study and get to a precise answer on a lot of these things. So, let’s start just by taking a look at a few things. First square root of three square, root of two which one’s larger? If you said root three you are correct. How much larger? That might be a little bit more difficult to ascertain but if you say 1.7 versus 1.4 maybe 20 percent larger 3 is 50% larger than 2 so root 3 is going to be some smaller percentage larger than root two. But either way we know that root three is the bigger one it’s going to be the dominant value so the question becomes how much larger? Or which part of the answer drives the answer choice?

**What Do We Know?**

So we know that the integers 2 and 3 are more meaningful, larger than the square roots because the square roots are components of those integers. So between A and B, a drives the question that is the three drives the root two more than the two drives the root three. We can take a look at the following two and notice that both of them are around root three.

That is if we take apart the ugly part, which is the square root and take a look at the rest of it – four over five, five over four, these numbers are about one and compared to the two root three we have and the three root two which we’ve already decided is even stronger we don’t really need to entertain C and D all that much. Just to understand that oh they’re about a root three and that’s not going to be enough.

**Looking At Answer Choice E**

Finally, we have E. E is a little funky but we can ask ourselves how many times will root 3, will this 1.7 go into 7 and we get this answer that it’s a bit below 4. Compared with 3 root 2 which is 4.2 (3 times 1.4), we still have a driving the answer. You guys see how this is a marriage of doing a little bit of estimation but also really keeping your framing as is this greater or less than. Now we’ve included a bunch of other different answer choices here for you to take a look at play around with it and see if you can get yourself familiar with comparing these things because the GMAT is only going to come at you with things like square roots that are unfamiliar.

So it’s a fairly defined GMAT problem in that sense. I hope this helps, questions below, like us, subscribe, keep checking in and we’ll see you again real soon.

If you enjoyed this GMAT problem, try these problems next: Probability problem, and the Speed Distance problem.