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Print Numerical / Quantitative Reasoning Best Practices #4: Timetables

In this installment of the numerical / quantitative reasoning methodology series, we look at test types that involve timetables.

In contrast to other questions I have written about, this one uses a rather fanciful notion and unrealistic scenario of the British railways actually running a reasonable service to a timetable. But we can all dream can’t we?



Question: The Newcastle train accelerates from the station for 12 minutes to get to its cruising speed taking 11 miles to do so and decelerates in a similar manner on arrival. What is its cruising speed?




As with all numerical / quantitative reasoning questions, you need to read and assess the data to decide which bits you need for this particular question and which bits are surplus to requirements. The data supplied is for a set of 4 questions and, in all likelihood, all the data will be used but not necessarily in every question.

For this question we need only the data in the table and none of the supplementary bullet point data supplied beneath the table. Furthermore, there is no mention of the London-Leeds train so we can ignore that as well. All we need is specified in the one line:

London – Newcastle    3:42    286

The train accelerates over 11 miles taking 12 minutes to get to its cruising speed, it cruises for most of the journey and then it decelerates over the last 11 miles taking another 12 minutes. So, we have spent 24 minutes changing speed out of the total journey time of 3h 42m which leave 3h 18m of cruising time. Likewise, we have travelled 22 miles at varying speeds out of a total of 286 miles leaving 264 miles at cruising speed.

So what is the cruising speed?

This can be calculated as the distance divided by the time which is:

Now, at this point you can get your calculator out and start converting 3:18 to minutes, doing the division, and then converting back to hours. Or you can do it a little bit easier and quicker without using a calculator at all… remember, time is of the essence in the psychometric tests.

The question setter has been kind to you here with the selection of data. One hour is equal to 60 minutes and so 6 minutes is 0.1h. Clearly then, 18m is 0.3h and the denominator can easily be seen to be 3.3h. Now, once again you can use your calculator but don’t give up yet.

Both 3.3 and 264 are divisible by 3 and 11 and the fraction quickly reduces to: 8/0.1 which is 80mph. Maybe I’m a little odd but I can do that faster than I can switch my calculator on and with a little practise I think you might be able to as well.

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