Data Sufficiency Trick Questions

The tricks used in Data Sufficiency questions come from a narrow pool of tricks. Learn to identify each of the tricks, and you will be in a strong position to answer each question. In approaching each question, apply the three step method we discussed earlier: Step (1) Look at the question stem. Step (2) Look at each statement individually. Step (3) Then look at both statements in combination. It is important that you have the discipline to stick to this approach. The Data Sufficiency questions tend to be trick questions, particularly the difficult ones, and straying from this basic strategy will increase the chances of you being fooled. Remember that standardized tests are based on the premise that you can separate students into groups of ability. In order to do this, the less capable students must get questions wrong. To make sure less capable students get low scores, the tests are deliberately designed with trick questions specifically made to fool you.

Selected Trick Questions
1. Amnesia Trick How many adults ride bicycles in city A if all adults in City A either ride bicycles or drive cars? (I) 85% of the 10,000 adults in city A drive cars. (II) 8500 adults in city A drive cars. Statement (I) is sufficient since if 8,500 drive cars then 1,500 ride bicycles. Statement (II) is not sufficient since we do not know the total population; it cannot be assumed from (I). The trick here is that (I) alone can answer the question. Although (I) and (II) together may answer the question, the answer is still A. The unskilled reader will carry over the information from statement (I) when reading statement (II) and not catch the flaw with statement (II) (it does not tell you the population). Trick #2: note that the question doesn’t tell you the total population of City A, but the total population is not relevant since the question only asks for “Adults”. This question shows how you must have discipline and stick to the 3 step process. 1. Read the stem 2. Read each statement individually 3. If both statements cannot answer the question alone, then look at both statements together. Before you try to combine statement (I) and (II), make sure each answer can/cannot answer the question. When you first read statement II, temporarily forget what you read in statement 1 so that you may evaluate if (II) alone is sufficient. Hence the name of the trick question: “Amnesia.” Get temporary amnesia after reading statement I and don’t use statement (I)’s information when you first evaluate statement (II) (because you need to see if statement (II) is sufficient alone. 2. Delay Trick How much was a certain Babe Ruth baseball card worth in January 1991? (I) In January 1997 the card was worth $100,000. (II) Over the ten years 1987-1997, the card steadily increased in value by 10% each 12 months.

Chapter 3 | Data Sufficiency Trick Questions | BMM10236 | 9 of 40

A “red herring” is an American/English phrase for something that is a distraction to the issue. 3. Backsolve Is the two-digit integer. combining the two statements proves that rm is not a multiple of 7. Subtract these two equations 70 = 3x + 4y -50 = -3x .Sol: (I) Alone is obviously insufficient. 98). it is insufficient. As a rule. Red Herring Trick Billy sells twice as many $20 tickets as Tim. So (II) alone is insufficient. This question defies an algebraic solution. rm may or may not be a multiple of 7. you should plug in possible answers. you have fallen into the trap. Using statements (I) and (II) we may deduce this. but by using (I) and (II) together you can figure out the worth of the baseball card in January 1991. 4. (II) can do it alone. All that matters is that sufficient information is available. Then Billy sold 2x ($20 tickets) + y ($10 tickets) . How many tickets did Billy sell? (Tickets are either $10 or $20). Of those. however. and Tim sells three times as many $10 tickets as Billy. 63. (I) Tim sold a total of 35 tickets. Using statement (II). using statement (I). (II) Together Billy and Tim sold 70 tickets for $1000. 67. The trick here is not to do the calculations. Tim sold x ($20 tickets) + 3y ($10 tickets)(2) implies 70 = x + 2x + y + 3y and 1000 = 20(x + 2x) + 10 (y + 3y). To use (II) You need to know what the card was worth at some time between 1987 and 1997. Billy sold 2(10) + 10 = 30 tickets. This is called the DELAY trick because it causes you to be delayed and lose valuable time if you do unnecessary calculations. but it is unnecessary.2y 20 = 2y may be solved for x and y and subsequently y = 10 and x = 10. In this case. rm is not a multiple of 7. The test designers make these questions to make you waste time so that you do not finish the test on time. The answer is NO. there are NO possible numbers rm that are divisible by 7 and satisfy statements (I) and (II). (II) Is not sufficient because there are many numbers with r that are divisible by 3 and that are multiples of 7 (35. 85. So. Let x = the number of $20 tickets sold by Tim and y = the number of $10 tickets sold by Billy. we’ve used the two statements to deduce that rm is not a multiple of 7. Using statement (I) Try all the two digit numbers that sum 13: 94. So. In other words. the first statement is a distraction.This looks like a very intimidating question. so it must be solved through back solving. Sol: (I) is not sufficient. a multiple of 7? (I) r + m = 13 (II) r is divisible by 3 Sol: With statements (I) and (II) we may determine that the two digit number is not a multiple of 7. The information in (I) may help answer the question. only 49 is divisible by 7. The trick here is that (I) is completely unnecessary and a distraction. when you encounter a highly intimidating question such as this one. 49 is not a multiple of 3. 76. If you tried to actually calculate the value in January 1991. 49. with digits r (first) and m(second). Combined. Chapter 3 | Data Sufficiency Trick Questions | BMM10236 | 10 of 40 . 58.divide this equation by 20 to simplify.

that cannot be assumed. The trap is (3). but statement (I) can do it itself (thus disqualifying choice C. x + 4z = 20. When drawing a geometric figure or checking a given one. So you can solve the average formula directly without using the second statement. The given information asks for the average of 3x and 12z. numerous cases are possible. so 3x + 12z = 60. 3(x + 4z). Super Statement Trick What is the average (arithmetic mean) of 3x and 12z? (I) x + 4z = 20 (II) x + z = 8 Sol: Yes. one statement may solve it alone. the statements usually have more value than it appears at first glance. which requires both (I) and (II) to be insufficient). All we know is that AC is a chord. Example 1: In the figure to the right. combining (I) and (II) will solve the question. HINT: On difficult Data Sufficiency questions. What is the measure of angle x? B A x C Although in the drawing AC looks to be a diameter. You may use statement (II) to solve the problem. Hence. or 3(x + 4z)/2. but carefully examined. meaning that the average = 30.5. but (I) can do it alone. Statement (I) tells us the value of x + 4z. AC is a chord and B is a point on the circle. which is (3x + 12z) / 2. Super Statement questions involve questions where together both statements can solve a question. three of which are illustrated below: Case I B A x C Case II B A A x C Case III B x C Chapter 3 | Data Sufficiency Trick Questions | BMM10236 | 11 of 40 . Students will know that the two statements together can solve the question. be sure to include drawings of extreme cases as well as ordinary ones.

You can count on seeing at least a few questions where a wrong selection is presented just to capitalize on this common fallacy. you can always look at the (II) statements in either order. q + r = 180. p = q = r = 120. the question is answerable only if a numbered statement (I or II) yields one and only one possible numerical answer—not a range of values. (Making this mistake is remarkably easy. q. This CAT section lends itself perfectly to process of elimination. and r. If you can eliminate either answer choice (1) or (2). If either numbered statement (I or II) alone suffices to answer the question. x is less than 45 degrees. look at statement (II) to help you eliminate incorrect answer choices. especially under time pressure and in a momentary lapse of concentration. Use process of elimination. then you can eliminate answer choices (3) and (5). in Case II. Do not rely on a visual assessment of a geometry question to determine angle sizes. in Case III. do not carry any information from one question to the next. Chapter 3 | Data Sufficiency Trick Questions | BMM10236 | 12 of 40 . Be careful not to carry over any information from one numbered statement to another. parallel lines. However. If time becomes an issue. Hence. so q + r = 240. the given information is not sufficient to answer the question. then you can also eliminate answer choice (4). Hence.) If a question asks for a numerical value (as opposed to a quantitative expression that includes variables). if statement (I) is confusing. etc. Example 2: Three rays emanate from a common point and form three angles with measures p.In Case I. they’re the same for each and every Data Sufficiency question. x is greater than 45 degrees. there are other drawings possible. Final Summary of Data Sufficiency Tips and Strategies Memorize the five answer choices. x equals 45 degrees. What is the measure of q + r ? It is natural to make the drawing symmetric as follows: q P r In this case. the given information is not sufficient to answer the question. Hence. The CAT tries to measure your ability to distinguish facts from careless assumptions. For example: P q r In this case. Finally. Use only the information given in the questions.

Chapter 3 | Data Sufficiency Trick Questions | BMM10236 | 13 of 40 . If you spend some time practicing these questions. Just as in Problem Solving questions. Data Sufficiency figures are not necessarily drawn proportionately—unless a figure indicates explicitly that it is drawn to scale. Don’t split hairs by looking for subtle meanings or ambiguous language. handle any Data Sufficiency question using your knowledge of mathematics along with the numbers provided. When it comes time to sit for the CAT. You will also become very comfortable with the questions from this portion of the test and will quickly realize if there are any math areas such as geometry or algebra where you will need to brush up on your skills. you will know through process of elimination that your choices are (4) or (5). you must assume in certain abstract questions such as “What is the value of x?” that x can be a fraction and/or a negative number. One favorite of the CAT testers is to use ratios and percentages. When the two statements convey the same exact information. or areas. The test makers will not try to trick you in this way with these questions.In distinct contrast to Problem Solving geometry figures. Practice. in Data Sufficiency questions cast in a real-world setting you should make reasonable real-world assumptions. you will be able to internalize these tips and strategies. As we stated before. However. practice. you’re probably on the wrong track. Do NOT rely on your eye to measure angle sizes. you will want to know the important data relationships for the various math areas tested. So if you find yourself doing a lot of pencil work. Make real-world assumptions where necessary. The testmakers are not out to trick you in this way. the ratio of y : x is 2 : 1 Do not get bogged down with complicated or lengthy calculations. these questions are designed to test your ability to think conceptually. Be on the lookout for statements that tell you the same thing in different words. not on your ability to manipulate numbers (that’s what Problem Solving questions are for). x is 50% of y 2. practice. not solve math problems. Instead. Here is an example where Statement (II) simply states backwards the exact same information provided by Statement (I). Data Sufficiency questions are designed to test you primarily on quantitative concepts. 1. line segment lengths.

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