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**SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles
**

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P lane G eometry << RETURN TO THE PREVIOUS SECTION | CONTINUE TO THE NEXT SECTION >>

TEST P R EP CENTER S SA T Subjec t T es t: M ath L evel 2 T es t C enter SP A R K CO L L EGE C ollege A dmis s ions Financ ial A id C ollege L ife

6 .1 6 .2 6 .3

LINES A ND A NGLES TRIA NGLES POLYGONS

6 .4 6 .5

CIRCLES KEY FORMULA S

Triangles

You will need a solid understanding of triangles in order to answer other questions about polygons, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry. Luckily for you, the essential rules governing triangles are few and easy to master.

Basic Properties

There are four main rules of triangles:

**1. Sum of the Interior Angles
**

If you were stranded on a desert island and had to take the Math IIC test, this is the one rule about triangles you should bring along: the sum of the measures of the interior angles is 180º. Now, if you know the measures of two of a triangle’s angles, you will be able to find the third. Helpful rule, don’t you think?

**2. Measure of an Exterior Angle
**

An exterior angle of a triangle is the angle formed by extending one of the sides of the triangle past a vertex (the point at which two sides meet). An exterior angle is always supplementary to the interior angle with which it shares a vertex and equal in measure to the sum of the measures of the remote interior angles. Take a look at the figure below, in which d, the exterior angle, is supplementary to interior angle c :

It doesn’t matter which side of a triangle you extend to create an exterior angle; the exterior angle will always be supplementary to the interior angle with which it shares a vertex and therefore (because of the 180º rule) equal to the sum of the remote interior angles.

3. Triangle Inequality

The third important property of triangles is the triangle inequality rule, which states: the length of a side of a triangle is less than the sum of the lengths of the other two sides and greater than the difference of the lengths of the other two sides. www.sparknotes.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2.rhtml

1/6

but not necessarily equal to the other pair of sides or angles. This proportionality of side lengths and angle measures holds true for all triangles.4/28/12 SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles Observe the figure below: From the triangle inequality. In this case. The exact value of x depends on the measure of the angle opposite side x. For an example. But before getting into the different types of special triangles. Now. therefore. Knowing these triangles and what makes each of them special can save you time and effort. side c is the shortest side and is the smallest angle. or 5 < x < 13.sparknotes. If this angle is small (close to 0º). If this angle is large (close to 180º).com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2. Special Triangles There are several special triangles that have particular properties. In this figure. Scalene Triangles A scalene triangle has no equal sides and no equal angles. the longest side is opposite the largest angle and the shortest side is opposite the smallest angle.rhtml 2/6 . double hash marks or double arcs can be drawn into a pair of sides or angles to indicate that they are equal to each other. The arcs drawn into A and B indicate that these angles are congruent. For example. that c < b < a and C < B < A. we can tell that 9 – 4 < x < 9 + 4. It follows. Conversely. we must take a moment to explain the markings we use to describe the properties of each particular triangle. there might be more than one pair of equal sides or congruent angles. then a will be large (close to b + c ). In every triangle. 4. then a will be small (close to b – c ). The exact length of side a depends on the measure of the angle created by sides b and c . take a look at this triangle: Using the triangle inequality. www. we know that c – b < a < c + b. side a is clearly the longest side and is the largest angle. on to the special triangles. In some diagrams. Proportionality of Triangles This brings us to the last basic property of triangles. the figure below has two pairs of sides of equal length and three congruent angle pairs: these indicate that the sides have equal length. which has to do with the relationships between the angles of a triangle and the lengths of the triangle’s sides.

or vice versa. Isosceles Triangles A triangle that contains two sides of equal length is called an isosceles triangle.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2. From the proportionality rule. These angles are usually referred to as base angles. side a = b and A=B. C is the right angle (as indicated by the box drawn in the angle). and if a triangle has two congruent angles.sparknotes. The angles opposite the legs of a right triangle are complementary. side c is the hypotenuse. The Pythagorean Theorem The Pythagorean theorem is vital to most of the problems on right triangles. In the figure above. and the other two sides are called legs. where c is the length of the hypotenuse. Equilateral Triangles A triangle whose sides are all of equal length is called an equilateral triangle. the measure of each is 60º. In the isosceles triangle below. As is the case with isosceles triangles. The side opposite the right angle is called the hypotenuse of the right triangle. if you know that a triangle has either three equal sides or three congruent angles. Right Triangles A triangle that contains a right angle is called a right triangle. All three angles in an equilateral triangle are congruent as well.4/28/12 SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles In fact. It will also come in handy later on as you study coordinate geometry and trigonometry. then the two angles opposite those sides are congruent.rhtml 3/6 . then you know that the other must also be true. and the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the two legs. Pythagorean Triples www. the two angles opposite the sides of equal length are congruent. There is no such thing as a triangle with two equal sides and no congruent angles. then the two sides opposite those angles are equal. and sides a and b are the legs. Scalene triangles almost never appear on the Math IIC. The theorem states that in a right triangle a2 + b2 = c 2 . the special property of scalene triangles is that they don’t really have any special properties. In an isosceles triangle. a and b are the lengths of the two legs. if a triangle has two equal sides.

10} is a Pythagorean triple since it’s a multiple of {3. 15. you know that the hypotenuse is 4 meters long and the leg opposite the 60º angle is 2 meters. But there are two extra-special right triangles that appear frequently on the Math IIC.4/28/12 SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles Because right triangles obey the Pythagorean theorem. If the legs are of length x (they are always equal). 4. you should also watch out for their multiples. for example. 17} In addition to these Pythagorean triples. the lengths of the sides of a 45-45-90 triangle follow a specific pattern that you should know. Take a look at this diagram: As with 30-60-90 triangles. You could solve these questions by using the Pythagorean theorem. {6. 12. They are 30-60-90 triangles and 45-45-90 triangles. 5} {5. and the long leg.83. 24. 45-45-90 Triangles A 45-45-90 triangle is a triangle with two 45º angles and one right angle. has length x. The few sets of three integers that do obey the Pythagorean theorem and can therefore be the lengths of the sides of a right triangle are called Pythagorean triples. The constant ratio in the lengths of the sides of a 30-60-90 triangle means that if you know the length of one side in the triangle. and 90º.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2. 60º. www. knowing the ratio for 45-45-90 triangles can save you a great deal of time on the Math IIC. Like the 30-60-90 triangle. you know that the side opposite the 30º angle is 2 meters long. 4. allowing you to use your knowledge of this special triangle. 5}. Here are some common triples: {3.rhtml 4/6 . only a few have side lengths that are all integers. then the hypotenuse has length x . Special Right Triangles Right triangles are pretty special in their own right. Suppose the short leg. For example. a right triangle with legs of length 3 and 5 has a hypotenuse of length = 5. since it’s both isosceles and right. If. opposite the 60º degree angle. 8. On the Math IIC you will quite often encounter a question that will present you with an unnamed 30-60-90 triangle. then by using the 1 : 2 : ratio. Then the hypotenuse has length 2x. 13} {7. 25} {8. The key is to be aware that there are 3060-90 triangles lurking out there and to strike when you see one. 30-60-90 Triangles A 30-60-90 triangle is a triangle with angles of 30º. you immediately know the lengths of all the sides. has length x . opposite the 30º angle.sparknotes. but that method takes a lot longer than simply knowing the proper 30-60-90 ratio. For example. The sides of every 30-60-90 triangle will follow this 1 : 2 : ratio. What makes it special is the specific pattern that the lengths of the sides of a 30-60-90 triangle follow. This type of triangle is also known as an isosceles right triangle.

<< RETURN TO THE PREVIOUS SECTION | CONTINUE TO THE NEXT SECTION >> H elp | Feedbac k | M ake a reques t | Report an error P lane G eometry When your books and teachers don’t make sense.sparknotes. In order for this to be true.rhtml 5/6 . Just as similar triangles have corresponding sides. no matter which side you choose to be the base.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2. The heights of a few triangles are pictured with their altitudes drawn in as dotted lines.4/28/12 SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles Similar Triangles Two triangles are called similar if the ratio of the lengths of their corresponding sides is constant. AB/DE = BC/EF = CA/FD. you know that the ratio of the short sides equals the ratio of the larger sides. they also have congruent angles. The height of a triangle is defined as a line segment perpendicular to the line containing the base. If ABC ~ DEF. In the previous sentence we said “a base” instead of “the base” because you can actually use any of the three sides of the triangle as the base. B = E. After all.” So. and not just the base. Sometimes the endpoint of the height does not lie on the base. Area of a Triangle The formula for the area of a triangle is: where b is the length of a base of the triangle and h is the height (also called the altitude). When you say that two triangles are similar. it can be outside of the triangle. as is the case in the rightmost triangle in the figure above. the corresponding angles of each triangle must be congruent. www. the definition of similar triangles is that “the ratio of the lengths of their corresponding sides is constant. Study the triangle on the right. So if triangle ABC is similar to triangle DEF. a triangle has no particular side that is the base until you designate one. w e do. then A = D. it is important to know which sides of each triangle correspond to each other. but not necessarily the same size. similar triangles have exactly the same shape. Take a look at a few similar triangles: As you may have assumed from the above figure. which is why the area formula always works. and C = F. considering that ABC ~ DEF. the symbol for “is similar to” is ~. The measure of its height does not lie in the interior of the triangle. The height of the triangle depends on the base. you could write ABC ~ DEF. In essence.

All Rights Reserved www.sparknotes.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter6section2.rhtml 6/6 .4/28/12 SparkNotes: SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2: Triangles Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | About | Sitemap | Advertise Fiction Books | Textbooks | eTextbooks | Classic Books | Used Books | Teen Books | nook | eReader ©2011 SparkNotes LLC.

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