SAT – Counting and Ordering

Q: There are 11 basketball teams in a tournament. Each team plays each other team once. How many games are played?

 Answer: 55

Explanation 1: This question is really ‘How many ways are there to choose 2 teams from a total of 11 teams, if the order of the teams is not important?’ It’s a combination question. Find the nCr function on your calculator. On the TI-84 Plus it’s in MATH-PRB-3. Type in 11 nCr 2. It’s 55. (There is a longer way to do it by hand, using the formula for nCr.)

Explanation 2: Team A plays one game against each of the 10 other teams. That’s 10 games so far. Team B plays 9 other games (its game against Team A has already been counted). Team C plays 8 other games, … all the way down to the 1 last game between teams J and K. Add: 10 + 9 + 8 + 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 55.

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SAT – Counting and Ordering

Q: In how many ways can the letters of the word ‘FIVE’ be arranged?

Answer:   24

Explanation 1:  SInce there are 4 different letters, do 4!  (that’s ‘4 factorial’).   4! = 4 x 3x 2x 1 = 24.  Your calculator might have a factorial (!) function.  On the TI-84 Plus, find it in MATH – PRB.

Explanation 2:  SInce you are choosing 4 items from a total of 4 items, and the order is important, you can do 4 nPr 4, or use the formula for nPr.

 

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SAT – Counting and Ordering

Q:  When 5 people met for dinner, each person shook hands with each other person once.  How many handshakes happened?

Answer: 10

Explanation 1: Two people = a handshake.  This question is really ‘How many ways are there to choose 2 people from a total of 5, if the order is not important?’ It’s a combination question. Find the nCr function on your calculator. Type in 5 nCr 2. It’s 10. (There is a longer way to do it by hand, using the formula for nCr.)

Explanation 2: Person A shook hands with 4 people.  That’s  4 handshakes so far. Person B shook hands with 3 other people (his shake with A has already been counted). Person C shook hands with 2 other people.  Person D shook hands with 1 other person (E). Add: 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10.

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SAT – Counting and Ordering

Q: Bob has ten different books, but must choose only three to bring along on his vacation. In how many ways can Bob choose three books?
 
Answer: 120
Explanation: This is a combination (not permutation) problem, because the order of the books in Bob’s bag does not matter.  Find the nCr function on your calculator and enter ’10 nCr 3′.  On the TI-84 Plus, nCr is in MATH, PRB, 3.  Or, do this by hand using the formula for nCr.
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