Is this GMAT Question an Alphametic or Simple Number Properties Question?

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomAs noticed in the first post of Alphametics, a data sufficiency alphametic is far more complicated than a problem solving alphametic. An alphametic can have multiple solutions and establishing that it does not, is time consuming. Hence, it is less likely that you will see a DS alphametic in the actual exam.

In fact, what may look like an alphametic problem, might actually be a number properties problem only.

We will look at an example below:

Question:

AlphameticPost3

In the correctly-worked multiplication problem above, each symbol represents a different nonzero digit. What is the value of C?

Statement 1: D is prime.

Statement 2: B is not prime.

Solution: We multiply two two-digit integers and get 1995. The good thing is that we know the result of the multiplication will be 1995. Usually, multiplication alphametics are harder since they involve multiple levels, but here the multiplication is actually a blessing. There are many many ways in which you can ADD two integers to give 1995 but there are only a few ways in which you can multiply two integers to give you 1995.

Let’s prime factorize 1995:

1995 = 3*5*7*19

We can probably count on our fingers the number of ways in which we can select AB and CD.

19 needs to be multiplied with one other factor to give us a two digit number since 5*3*7 = 105 (a three digit number) so AB and CD cannot be 19 and 105.

19*3 = 57, 5*7 = 35 – This is not possible since two of the four digits are same here – 5.

19*5 = 95, 3*7 = 21 – This is one option for AB and CD.

19*7 = 133 – Three digit number not possible.

Hence AB and CD can only take values out of 21 and 95.

As of now, C can be 2 or 9. We need to find whether the given statements give us a unique value of C.

Statement 1: D is prime

D is the units digit of CD. So D can be 1 or 5.

1 is not prime so CD cannot be 21. Hence, CD must be 95 and AB must be 21.

Hence, C must be 9.

This statement alone is sufficient.

Statement 2: B is not prime

If B is not prime then AB cannot be 95. Hence AB must be 21.

This means CD will be 95 and C will be 9.

This statement alone is sufficient.

Answer (D)

Note that the entire question was just about number properties – prime factors, prime numbers etc. Actually it required no iterative steps and no hit and trial. Rest assured that if it is a GMAT question, it will be reasoning based and will not require painful calculations.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!