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Winning Silver: Figuring out the second last digit in Quantitative Aptitude
by Ravi Handa in MBA Entrance Hacks 18 August '11

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Nike caused controversy with its advertising campaign during the 1996 Olympics by using the slogan, "You Don't Win Silver You Lose Gold." Nike's use of this slogan drew harsh criticism from many former Olympic Silver medalists. In a way, it did undermine the importance of the second position but in Math things are often very different. Figuring out the second last digit is often tougher than figuring out the last digit in the particular type of Quantitative Ability questions I am going to write about. It is unlikely but definitely not impossible that in CAT you get a straightforward question that asks you to find out the second last digit of a number (abcpqr ). It did happen in CAT 2008. In

few cases, you will be able to do it by forming a cycle and observing the pattern. Those will be the easier cases. Read on if you wish to do the same for the notso-easy cases.

The question becomes really simple if the last digit in abcpqr is 0 or 5 because if it 0, the second last digit will be 0 and if it is 5, second last digit will be 2 or 7 (which can be easily figured out by observing the cyclicity). All the other questions can be divided in two broad categories,

a) Last digit is odd

b) Last digit is even

I recommend that before using any of the concepts given below, you should try and see if a pattern exists.

Let us consider our number is abcpqr where a, b, c, p, q and r are digits and c is not 0 or 5.

Concept 1: What to do when the last digit is odd?

The second last digit always depends on the last two digits of the number so anything before that can be easily neglected. We first convert the number in such a way that the last digit of the base becomes 1. The second last digit of the number will then simply be,

Last digit of (Second last digit of base) X (Last digit of power)

Let us look at few examples,

Eg 1a: Second last digit of 3791 7 68 = Last digit of 98 = 2

Eg 1b: Second last digit of 17397 68 = Second last digit of 397 68 = Second last digit of Second Last digit of 1521 384 = Last digit of 2 4 = 8

Eg 1c: Second last digit of 93177 68 = Second last digit of 177 68 = Second last digit of (174 ) 1 92 = Second last digit of (21) 1 92 = Last digit of 2 x 2 = 4

Concept 2: What to do when the last digit is even?

The second last digit always depends on the last two digits of the number so anything before that can be easily neglected.

We need to remember the following ideas:

**2 raised to power 10 will always end in 24. 24 raised to an even power will always end in 76 and to an odd power will always end in 24. 76 raised to any power will always end in 76.

Now we can use these to find out the second last digit. We reduce the number in such a way that the last two digits of the base become 76.

Eg 2a: Second last digit of 1372482

? Second last digit of 72482

? Second last digit of 72480 x 722

? Second last digit of (721 0 ) 48 x (**84)

? Second last digit of 2448 x (**84)

? Second last digit of 76 x 84

? Second last digit of 6384 = 8

Eg 2b: Second last digit of 48307 = (483 ) 1 02 x 48 = (****92) 1 02 x 48

? Second last digit of 921 00 x 922 x 48 = 76 x (**64) x 48

? Second last digit of (****72) = 7

Eg 2c: Second last digit of 15484 = Second last digit of (54) 84

? Second last digit of (545 ) 1 6 x 544 = (***24) 1 6 x (542 ) 2

? Second last digit of 76 x (2916) 2

? Second last digit of 76 x 56

? Second last digit of 4256 = 5

I hope that after reading this post you will be at ease in figuring out the second last digit in such type of questions. I also hope that you will not mind winning silver medals either.

Author Ravi Handa has taught Quantitative Aptitude at IMS for 4 years. An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur where he studied a dual-degree in computer science, he has also written a book on business awareness.
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here. Similarly, when it ended with 8, that is 2^3, you cannot make it 1024 which is 2^10. you went for the next best option which was 512. In case of a number ending in 6, wePage Page 4 So of 4 should raise it to the power 5 to get 76 at the end, right?? These all are just my attempts at generalising all the methods, so if I am wrong anywhere, please help me out. Next part of my problem, in Eg 2b, when you reached 76 x (**64) x 48, did you use any special method or did you multiply it manually? I know this much that 76 x 64 will be 64 itself. One last thing, so that I don't have to disturb you again, please give me the link to your article on base change, if any. I could not find it in your profile. Thank you very much for all your help
#68 27 Aug '13 Like

ravihanda @piyushjn92 I don't have an article on base change. What you have said about generalizing, is correct - although unnecessary. Also - a question on the last two digits rarely gets asked. I guess you have already wasted more than required time on it. I would suggest that you chuck number system and prepare for something a little more useful.
#69 28 Aug '13 Like 1

piyushjn92 I did not waste a lot of time. I searched it online whenever I was free. otherwise I worked on other topics.
#70 28 Aug '13 Like 1

ravihanda @piyushjn92 Good idea then. Best of luck


#71 28 Aug '13 Like

nirzone @ravihanda sir..how to figure about 5 as it ends in 25 or 75..but which would be when..pls guide? Write a comment...

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