anilnandyala wrote:
If x is an integer, then x(x – 1)(x – k) must be evenly divisible by three when k is any of the following values EXCEPT
-4
-2
-1
2
5
I am providing the theoretical explanation below. Once you get it, you can solve such questions in a few seconds in future!
Notice a few things about integers:
-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16......
Every number is a multiple of 1
Every second number is a multiple of 2
Every third number is a multiple of 3
Every fourth number is a multiple of 4 and so on...
So if I pick any 3 consecutive integers, one and only one of them will be a multiple of 3: e.g. I pick 4, 5, 6 (6 is a multiple of 3) or I pick 11, 12, 13 (12 is a multiple of 3) etc..
x(x - 1)(x - k) will be evenly divisible by 3 if at least one of x, x - 1 and x - k is a multiple of 3. We know from above, (x - 2)(x - 1)x will have a multiple of 3 in it. Also, (x-1)x(x + 1) will have a multiple of 3 in it because they both are products of 3 consecutive integers. So k can be 2 or -1. Eliminate these options.
Now let me write down consecutive integers around x:
(x-5), (x - 4), (x - 3), (x - 2), (x - 1), x, (x + 1), (x + 2), (x + 3), (x + 4), (x + 5) etc
(x - 2)(x - 1)x will have a multiple of 3 in it. x could be the multiple of 3, (x - 1) could be the multiple of 3 or (x - 2) could be the multiple of 3, in which case (x - 5) will also be a multiple of 3.
So in any case, (x - 5)(x - 1)x will have a multiple of 3 in it. So k can be 5.
Similarly, (x-1)x(x + 1) will have a multiple of 3 in it. x could be the multiple of 3, (x - 1) could be the multiple of 3 or (x + 1) could be the multiple of 3, in which case (x + 4) will also be a multiple of 3.
So in any case, (x - 1)x(x + 4) will have a multiple of 3 in it. So k can be -4.
We cannot say whether (x-1)x(x + 2) will have a multiple of 3 in it and hence if k = -2, we cannot say whether the product is evenly divisible by 3.
Answer (B).
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Karishma
Veritas Prep GMAT Instructor
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