The number 0 on the GMAT is tricky as its properties are the trap in to which a seemingly logical solution can lead you or are often either the key to unlocking a difficult solution. Learning the properties of zero (keep in mind that it is an even number) is a crucial skill, particularly on data sufficiency problems. Even more importantly, never forget to consider zero as a potential value for a variable, as it often produces surprising results. Consider the case of zero as an exponent:

x^0 is, by definition, equal to 1. Noting the properties of exponents can help you to prove and more easily remember this useful device: take, for example, the expression x^2 * x^-2. You could rearrange this two ways:

a) (x^2) / (x^2) --> The negative exponent moves that term to the denominator

b) x^(2-2), or x^0 --> When multiplying terms with the same base, taken to different exponents, you add the exponents

Because we can prove that (x^2) / (x^2) must be equal to 1, and that the two expressions above are equal to each other, we can prove that x^0 = 1.

Now here comes the payoff - because x^0 is equal to 1, it's the ultimate in cop-out solutions to difficult problems. Say that a question asks:

For what value of x will 5^x be a factor of 2^10?

2^10 is not divisible by 5 (its only prime factor is 2), but the question might seem to necessitate you to multiply that value out, as well as some potential values of 5^x, in futility to prove that point. However, if 0 is an option, it will set the term equal to 1, which is a factor of any integer, and your work is already done.

Author :

Veritas Prep is the world’s largest privately-owned GMAT preparation and admissions consulting provider, offering industry-leading programs to help applicants improve their test scores and gain admission to the world’s best graduate schools. Founded in 2002 by graduates of the Yale School of Management, Veritas Prep is now live in more than 90 cities worldwide, as well as interactive online courses  available everywhere. Additionally, Veritas Prep offers industry-leading admissions consulting services for applicants seeking admission to the most competitive business schools, law schools, and medical schools in the world.

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Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning

After you read F1GMAT’s Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning Guide, you will learn:

How to overcome flawed thinking in GMAT Critical Reasoning?

How to spot Inconsistencies in Arguments

How to eliminate out of scope answer choices using Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

How to Paraphrase GMAT Critical Reasoning Question

How to Answer Assumption Question Type

How to Answer Conclusion Question Type

How to Answer Inference Question Type

How to Answer Strengthen Question Type

How to Answer Weaken Question Type

How to Answer bold-faced and Summary Question Types

How to Answer Parallel Reasoning Questions

How to Answer the Fill in the Blanks Question

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