GMAT Math : Calculating the diagonal of a prism

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Math

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

If a rectangular prism has a length of  ,  a width of  ,  and a height of  ,  what is the length of its diagonal?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism can be thought of as the hypotenuse of a right triangle formed by the height of the prism and the diagonal of its bottom face. First apply the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the diagonal of the bottom face, and then apply the Pythagorean Theorem again with this side and the height of the prism to find the length of its diagonal:

Example Question #2 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

Calculate the diagonal length for a rectangular prism with a length of  ,  a width of  ,  and a height of  .

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism can be thought of as the hypotenuse of a right triangle, where the other two sides are the height of the prism and the diagonal of either its top or bottom face. This means we can find the length of the prism's diagonal using the Pythagorean Theorem, but first we must apply this theorem to find the diagonal of the prism's top or bottom face, which forms the base of the right triangle whose hypotenuse is the diagonal of the entire prism. After finding the face diagonal, we apply the Pythagorean Theorem again to calculate the answer:

Example Question #3 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

Calculate the diagonal length for a rectangular prism with a length of  ,  a width of  ,  and a height of  .

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism can be thought of as the hypotenuse of a right triangle whose other two sides are the height of the prism and the diagonal of either its top or bottom face. We start by finding the diagonal of either the prism's top or bottom face, as this is the base of the right triangle for which the diagonal of the prism is the hypotenuse:

Now we apply the Pythagorean Theorem again, this time using the prism height and the face diagonal calculated above, and the hypotenuse we're left with is the same as the diagonal length of the rectangular prism:

Example Question #4 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

A rectangular prism has a height of , a length of , and a width . What is the length of the prism's diagonal?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism is the hypotenuse of the right triangle formed by the height of the prism and the diagonal of its bottom face. Thus, we apply the Pythagorean Theorem twice: first to find the bottom face's diagonal, and again to find the diagonal of the prism. For the bottom face's diagonal , use the Pythagorean Theorem with the given length and width:

Using this value , we can now find the value of the prism's diagonal :

Example Question #5 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

A rectangular prism has a height of , a length of , and a width . What is the length of the prism's diagonal?

Possible Answers:

None of the above.

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism is the hypotenuse of the right triangle formed by the height of the prism and the diagonal of its bottom face. Thus, we apply the Pythagorean Theorem twice: first to find the bottom face's diagonal, and again to find the diagonal of the prism. For the bottom face's diagonal , use the Pythagorean Theorem with the given length and width:

Using this value , we can now find the value of the prism's diagonal :

 

Example Question #6 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

A rectangular prism has a height of , a length of , and a width . What is the length of the prism's diagonal?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The diagonal of a rectangular prism is the hypotenuse of the right triangle formed by the height of the prism and the diagonal of its bottom face. Thus, we apply the Pythagorean Theorem twice: first to find the bottom face's diagonal, and again to find the diagonal of the prism. For the bottom face's diagonal , use the Pythagorean Theorem with the given length and width:

 

Using this value , we can now find the value of the prism's diagonal :

 

 

 

Example Question #7 : Calculating The Diagonal Of A Prism

Find the diagonal of a rectangular prism whose base is  and has a base of .

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

To solve, simply solve for the base diagonal which will become the side of the other triangle, whose hypotenuse is the diagonal we are looking for.

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