GMAT Quantitative Review

3.0 Math Review

3.1 Arithmetic

3. Decimals

In the decimal system, the position of the period or decimal point determines the place value of the digits. For example, the digits in the number 7,654.321 have the following place values:

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Some examples of decimals follow.

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Sometimes decimals are expressed as the product of a number with only one digit to the left of the decimal point and a power of 10. This is called scientific notation. For example, 231 can be written as image and 0.0231 can be written as image. When a number is expressed in scientific notation, the exponent of the 10 indicates the number of places that the decimal point is to be moved in the number that is to be multiplied by a power of 10 in order to obtain the product. The decimal point is moved to the right if the exponent is positive and to the left if the exponent is negative. For example, image is equal to 20,130 and image is equal to 0.000191.

Addition and subtraction of decimals.

To add or subtract two decimals, the decimal points of both numbers should be lined up. If one of the numbers has fewer digits to the right of the decimal point than the other, zeros may be inserted to the right of the last digit. For example, to add 17.6512 and 653.27, set up the numbers in a column and add:

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Likewise for 653.27 minus 17.6512:

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Multiplication of decimals.

To multiply decimals, multiply the numbers as if they were whole numbers and then insert the decimal point in the product so that the number of digits to the right of the decimal point is equal to the sum of the numbers of digits to the right of the decimal points in the numbers being multiplied. For example:

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Division of decimals.

To divide a number (the dividend) by a decimal (the divisor), move the decimal point of the divisor to the right until the divisor is a whole number. Then move the decimal point of the dividend the same number of places to the right, and divide as you would by a whole number. The decimal point in the quotient will be directly above the decimal point in the new dividend. For example, to divide 698.12 by 12.4:

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will be replaced by: image

and the division would proceed as follows:

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