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Probability

Data Analysis: Probability

Read the following SAT test question and then select the correct answer.

Read each question carefully to avoid making any mistakes. Identify the bottom line (what the question is asking) and assess your options for reaching it by asking yourself “What could I do?” and “What should I do?” Choose the most efficient method to attack the problem and find an answer. Last, loop back to make sure that your answer addresses the bottom line.

If a number is chosen at random from the set {-10, -5, 0, 5, 10}, what is the probability that it is a member of the solution set of both 3x – 2 <10 and x + 2?

Bottom Line: Prb = ?

Assess Your Options: You cannot solve for a probability until you know whether each number in the set meets the requirements that you are given. You could plug numbers from the set into each inequality and see if they work, but it is much faster to simplify the inequalities before you begin working with them.

Attack the Problem: Simplify the inequalities by solving both for x.

3x – 2 < 10
3x < 12
x < 4

x + 2 > -8
x > -10

You now know that x must be less than 4, but greater than -10. The question asked you to find a number that fits both of these solution sets. Look at the original set that you were given. The only two answers that are between -10 and 4 are -5 and 0 (-10 does not work because it cannot be equal to negative -10; it has to be greater than -10). You found 2 numbers out of 5 that you were given that work. To write this as a probability, you must set the number of relevant outcomes over the number of total possible outcomes. Your answer is 2 over 5.

Loop Back: You found a probability matching the restrictions you were given. Look down at your answer choices.

(A) 0

(B) 1 over 5

(C)2 over 5

(D)3 over 5

(E)4 over 5

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 50% of the responses were correct.

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