ACT Math : How to find the surface area of a polyhedron

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Math

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Example Questions

Example Question #644 : Geometry

The surface area of a cylinder is given by , where  is the radius and  is the height.  If a cylinder has a surface area of   and a height of  , what is its radius?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


The fastest way to solve this problem is to plug all of the answer choices in for  and look for an output of .

Alternatively, one could set the surface area formula equal to  (knowing that ), but this would require solving a quadratic.

Rearranging this we get

Now factoring out a  we get:

Since we cannot have a negative length our answer is .

Example Question #1 : How To Find The Surface Area Of A Polyhedron

If a half cylinder with a height of 5 and semicircular bases with a radius of 2, what is the surface area?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


The surface area of the half cylinder will consist of the lateral area and the base area.

There are three parts to the surface area:

Rectangular region, semi-circular bases of the half cylinder, and outer face of the cylinder.

The cross section of the half cylinder is a rectangle.  Find the area of the rectangle.  The diameter of the semicircle represents the width of the rectangle, which is double the radius.  The length of the rectangle is the height of the cylinder.  

Next, find the area of a semicircular bases. 

Since there are two semicircular bases of the semi-cylinder, the total area of the semicircular bases is .

Find the area of the outer region.   The area of the outer region is the half circumference multiplied by the height of the cylinder.

Sum the areas of the rectangle, the two circular bases, and the outer region to find the lateral area.

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