GMAT Challenge Question: Solve This Stats Problem, Stat!

Set A consists of integers -9, 8, 3, 10, and J; Set B consists of integers -2, 5, 0, 7, -6, and T. If R is the median of Set A and W is the mode of set B, and R^W is a factor of 34, what is the value of T if J is negative?

(A) -2
(B) 0
(C) 1
(D) 2
(E) 5

Please include your answers in the comments field and we’ll be back later today with the solution!

UPDATE: Solution.

This problem demonstrates a helpful note about statistics problems – quite often the key to solving a stats problem is something other than stats: number properties, divisibility, algebra, etc. The statistics nature of these problems is often just a way to make a simpler problem look more difficult.

Here, the phrase “factor of 34” should stand out to you, as there are only four factors of 34, so you can narrow down the possibilities pretty quickly to 1, 2, 17, and 34. And because the number in question must be an exponential term that becomes a factor of 34, it’s even more limited: 2, 17, and 34 can only be created by one integer exponent – “itself” to the first power.

The base of that exponent is going to be the median of Set A, and because we know that the median of Set A will be 3 (a negative term for variable J means that 3 will be the middle term), the question becomes that much clearer. 3^W can only be a factor of 34 if it’s set equal to 1, and the only way to do that is for W to be 0. REMEMBER: anything to the power of 0 is equal to 1, a great equalizer on the GMAT!

Therefore, the correct answer is 0.

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