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Surprisingly, on the GMAT you can often solve geometry problems by merely “eye-balling” the given drawing. Even on problems whose answers you can’t get directly by looking, you often can eliminate a couple of the answer-choices.

Unless stated otherwise, all figures on Standard Math questions are drawn exactly to scale. Hence, if an angle looks like it’s about 90˚, it is; if a line segment looks like it’s about 2 units long, it is; if one figure looks like it’s about twice as large as another figure, it is. Caution: The figures in Data Sufficiency questions are not necessarily drawn to scale. Hence, you cannot use the methods of this section on Data Sufficiency problems. All the problems in this section were solved before. Now, we will solve them by eye-balling the drawings.

In the figure, if , then what is the value of y?

  1. 20
  2. 45
  3. 55
  4. 75
  5. 110

By eye-balling the drawing, we can see that y is less than 90˚.


It appears to be somewhere between 65˚ and 85˚.


But 75˚ is the only answer-choice in that range.


Hence, the answer is (D).


In the figure, the area of the shaded region is

  1. 1/2
  2. 2/3
  3. 7/8
  4. 3/2
  5. 5/2

The area of the larger triangle is .


Now, by eye-balling the drawing, the area of the shaded region looks to be about half that of the larger triangle.


Therefore, the answer should be about .


The closest answer-choice to 1 is 7/8.


The answer is (C).


Note: On the GMAT, answer-choices are listed in order of size: usually from smallest to largest (unless the question asks for the smallest or largest). Hence, in the previous example, 2/3 is smaller than 7/8 because it comes before 7/8.

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