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Think of an absolute value as a simple machine that looks like this: ||. You put a value into it, and the machine answers a single question for you: how far away from zero was the value that you put in?
The basic operation of the machine is simple. Take any number, put it into the machine, and find out how far from zero that number is. The absolute value of 12, |12|, is equal to 12. The absolute value of -10, |-10|, is equal to 10. That’s because -10 is 10 units away from zero.
It starts to get complicated when the GRE asks you to put things into the machine that are more complex than simple numbers. Imagine that somebody else is operating the machine. She puts values in, but she doesn’t tell you what those values are. All you can see is the answer that the machine gives when it receives those values. Read more
Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Sometimes, the two sides of a Quantitative Comparison problem both simplify to specific values. Here’s what this type of problem looks like. This one is from the 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems: Read more
Most people dislike absolute value, and inequalities can tie us up into knots. Put them together, and we can have some major headaches! Let’s test one out.
Set your timer for 1 minute 15 seconds for this Quantitative Comparison problem and GO! (© ManhattanPrep)
* |x “ 2| > 3
Quantity A Quantity B
The minimum possible The minimum possible
value of |x “ 3.5| |x “ 1.5|
What did you get? (Do you remember the 4 QC answer choices? I didn’t list them above! If you don’t know what they are, go look them up. I’ll wait. And the pain of having to look them up will help convince you that you need to memorize these.)
We have a given:
|x “ 2| > 3
So, first, let’s figure out what this actually means. For what values of x is this inequality true?