We all know about the role of pre-thinking in Critical Reasoning and how anticipating the answer can be supremely beneficial in not just the physical aspect of saving time in analyzing options but also the psychological aspect of promoting our self-confidence – we were thinking that the answer should look like this and that is exactly what we found! Pre-thinking puts us in the driver’s seat and we feel energized without consuming any red bull!
The exciting thing is that pre-thinking is useful in Quant too. If you take a step back to review what the question asks and think about what you are going to do and what you expect to get, it is highly likely that you will not get distracted mid-way during your solution. Let’s show you with the help of an example:
Question: Superfast train A leaves Newcastle for Birmingham at 3 PM and travels at the constant speed of 100 km/hr. An hour later, it passes superfast train B, which is making the trip from Birmingham to Newcastle on the same route at a constant speed. If train B left Birmingham at 3:50 PM and if the sum of the total travel time of the two trains is 2 hours, at what time did train B arrive at Newcastle?
Statement I: Train B arrived at Newcastle before train A arrived at Birmingham.
Statement II: The distance between Newcastle and Birmingham is greater than 140 km.
Following are the things that would ideally constitute pre-thinking on this question:
– Quite a bit of data is given in the question stem with some speed and time taken.
– Distance traveled by both the trains is the same since they travel along the same route.
– We could possibly make an equation by equating the two distances and come up with multiple answers for the time at which train B arrived at Newcastle.
– The statements do not provide any concrete data. We cannot make any equation using them but they might help us choose one of the answers we get from the equation of the question stem.
Mind you, the thinking about the statements helping us to arrive at the answer is just speculation. The answer may well be (E). But all we wanted to do at this point was find a direction.
The diagram given above incorporates the data given in the question stem. Train A starts from Newcastle toward Birmingham at 3:00 and meets train B at 4:00. Train B starts from Birmingham toward Newcastle at 3:50 and meets train A at 4:00. Let x be the distance from Birmingham to the meeting point.
Speed of train A = 100 km/hr
Speed of train B = Distance/Time = x/(10 min) = x/(1/6) km/hr = 6x km/hr (converted min to hour)
If we get the value of x, we get the value of speed of train B and that tells us the time it takes to travel from the meeting point to Newcastle (a distance of 100 km). So all we need to figure out is whether the statements can give us a unique value of x.
By 4:00, train A has already travelled for 1 hour and train B has already travelled for 10 mins i.e. 1/6 hour. Total time taken by both is 2 hrs. The remaining (5/6) hrs is the time needed by both together to reach their respective destinations.
Time taken by train A to reach Birmingham + Time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 5/6
Distance(x)/Speed of train A + 100/Speed of train B = 5/6
x/100 + 100/6x = 5/6
3x^2 – 250x + 5000 = 0
3x^2 – 150x – 100x + 5000 = 0
3x(x – 50) – 100(x – 50) = 0
(3x – 100)(x – 50) = 0
x = 100/3 or 50
So speed of train B = 6x = 200 km/hr or 300 km/hr
Statement 1: Train B arrived at Newcastle before Train A arrived at Birmingham.
If x = 50, time taken by train A to reach Birmingham = 50/100 = 1/2 hour and time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 100/300 = 1/3 hour. Train B takes lesser time so it arrives first.
If x = 33.33, time taken by train A to reach Birmingham = (100/3)/100 = 1/3 hour and time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 100/200 = 1/2 hour. Here, train A takes lesser time so it arrives first at its destination.
Since train B arrived first, x must be 50 and train B must have taken 1/3 hour i.e. 20 mins to arrive at Newcastle. So train B must have arrived at 4:20.
This statement is sufficient alone.
Statement 2: The distance between Newcastle and Birmingham is greater than 140 km.
Total distance between Newcastle and Birmingham = (100 + x) km. x must be 50 to make total distance more than 140.
Time taken by train B must be 1/3 hr (as calculated above) and it must have arrived at 4:20.
This statement is sufficient alone.
So our speculation was right. Each of the statements provided us relevant information to choose one of the two values that the quadratic gave us.
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!