Bunuel wrote:

If x = y^2, what is the value of y – x?

(1) x = 4

(2) x + y = 2

Kudos for a correct solution.

VERITAS PREP OFFICIAL SOLUTION:Question Type: What Is the value? This question asks for the value of y – x.

Given information from the question stem: x = y^2. While it may not be important for this question, you should train yourself to notice things like “x cannot be negative” here, as y^2 has to be > 0.

Statement 1: x = 4. This is not sufficient because even taken with the fact above it still results in two answers. Substitute x in the equation from the facts and you get 4 = y^2. So y can equal 2 or – 2. These two values for y will give you different answers for “y – x” and are therefore not specific enough. You need a single value in order to be sufficient and you do not have one. The answer will either be B, C, or E.

Statement 2: x + y = 2. This is not sufficient even if taken together with the information from the question stem. A quick example using Play Devil’s Advocate might be the simplest way to show that this is not sufficient. “x = 1 and y = 1”is compatible with the given information and with Statement 2. However, so is one of our examples from statement 1 “x = 4 and y = -2.” After all 4 + -2 = 2. These different values for x and y will result in different answers to “y – x = ?” This statement is also not sufficient. The answer is either C or E.

Together: Taken together the statements are sufficient. Only one set of values will work with the two statements and the fact. “x = 4 and y = -2.”

The correct answer is C. One important takeaway from this question: Do not assume that a variable is positive! When people answer this question incorrectly it’s usually because they only considered 2 as a value (and not -2) for y when they saw Statement 1. When a statement gives you a solution for y^2, remember that y could be either positive or negative. “Forgetting about negatives” is one of the easiest (and most common) mistakes to make on Data Sufficiency problems.

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