A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
I solved the question and got: 4!/3!1! ==> 4
However the answer is [spoiler]{D}[/spoiler]
Doubt on Separator Method
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 theCodeToGMAT
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 Brent@GMATPrepNow
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Let X, Y and Z be the 3 employees.theCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
Let A and B be the 2 offices.
Take the task of assigning the employees and break it into stages.
Stage 1: Assign employee X to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 1 in 2 ways
Stage 2: Assign employee Y to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 2 in 2 ways
Stage 3: Assign employee Z to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 3 in 2 ways
By the Fundamental Counting Principle (FCP), we can complete all 3 stages (and thus assign all employees to offices) in (2)(2)(2) ways ([spoiler]= 8 ways[/spoiler])
Cheers,
Brent
Aside: For more information about the FCP, watch our free video: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmatcounting?id=775
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 theCodeToGMAT
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Oh, ok..
I was trying to solve the question using Separator method..
By distributing "3" employees between 2 offices..
So, one separator = (3+1)!/3! = 4.
Thanks Brent!!!
I was trying to solve the question using Separator method..
By distributing "3" employees between 2 offices..
So, one separator = (3+1)!/3! = 4.
Thanks Brent!!!
R A H U L
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 Brent@GMATPrepNow
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The only issue with your method is that it does not treat the offices as distinct.theCodeToGMAT wrote:Oh, ok..
I was trying to solve the question using Separator method..
By distributing "3" employees between 2 offices..
So, one separator = (3+1)!/3! = 4.
Thanks Brent!!!
That is, it treats X and Y in office A and Z in office B as the same as X and Y in office B and Z in office A.
So, account for this, we just need to double your answer.
Having said that, I always begin every counting question by asking, "Can I take the required task and break it into individual stages?" If the answer is yes, I may be able to use the Fundamental Counting Principle (FCP) to solve the question.
More on this strategy here:
 https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2013/07/ ... onsparti
 https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2013/08/ ... nspartii
 https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2013/09/ ... spartiii
Cheers,
Brent
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 GMATGuruNY
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The SEPARATOR method is great for counting the number of ways to distribute n IDENTICAL OBJECTS among r DISTINCT BOXES.theCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
An example:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/insertingst ... 67423.html
Here, the objects being distributed  the employees  are NOT identical.
Thus, the separator method is inappropriate.
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 theCodeToGMAT
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Each employee can go to any of the 2 offices.theCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
I solved the question and got: 4!/3!1! ==> 4
However the answer is [spoiler]{D}[/spoiler]
So the total number of combinations = 2*2*2 = 8
Choose D
Cheers
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https://www.beatthegmat.com/firstattemp ... tml#688494
Kelley School of Business (Class of 2016)
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https://www.beatthegmat.com/firstattemp ... tml#688494

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Hi Brent,Brent@GMATPrepNow wrote:Let X, Y and Z be the 3 employees.theCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
Let A and B be the 2 offices.
Take the task of assigning the employees and break it into stages.
Stage 1: Assign employee X to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 1 in 2 ways
Stage 2: Assign employee Y to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 2 in 2 ways
Stage 3: Assign employee Z to an office
There two options (office A or office B), so we can complete stage 3 in 2 ways
By the Fundamental Counting Principle (FCP), we can complete all 3 stages (and thus assign all employees to offices) in (2)(2)(2) ways ([spoiler]= 8 ways[/spoiler])
Cheers,
Brent
Aside: For more information about the FCP, watch our free video: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmatcounting?id=775
you didn't consider the option of both the offices empty.
so answer should be 2*2*2 +1 = 9
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 Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com
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Hi nikhilgmat31,
The prompt states that the 3 employees have to be assigned to two different offices, so it is NOT possible that both offices would be empty.
GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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The prompt states that the 3 employees have to be assigned to two different offices, so it is NOT possible that both offices would be empty.
GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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Hi nikhilgmat31,
I agree that the wording of the prompt is 'clunky', but if there are only 2 offices, and each of the 3 employees has to be assigned to one of them, then where would they be assigned if all of the offices were empty? Logically, this doesn't make sense.
The prompt would have been clearer if it had stated "....in such a way that AN office can be empty..." Questions on the Official GMAT are almost always more clearly worded than this prompt.
GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
I agree that the wording of the prompt is 'clunky', but if there are only 2 offices, and each of the 3 employees has to be assigned to one of them, then where would they be assigned if all of the offices were empty? Logically, this doesn't make sense.
The prompt would have been clearer if it had stated "....in such a way that AN office can be empty..." Questions on the Official GMAT are almost always more clearly worded than this prompt.
GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Brent@GMATPrepNow wrote:theCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
Why can't we use counting method? I came up with answer A(4).
We can fill the offices(2) with 3 people in 4 ways as given below:
Office1:3 and Office2:0;
Office1:2 and Office2:1;
Office1:1 and Office2:2;
Office0:0 and Office2:3
Please let me know how this one can be done using counting method or we shouldn't.
Junayed Hossain
 DavidG@VeritasPrep
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Hossain wrote:Brent@GMATPrepNow wrote:You're missing a few scenarios because we have to consider which people are in which office. Imagine, for example, that there are three people: A, B, and C. Now let's take your second scenario, in which there are two people in office 1 and one person in office two.This could play out three waystheCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
Why can't we use counting method? I came up with answer A(4).
We can fill the offices(2) with 3 people in 4 ways as given below:
Office1:3 and Office2:0;
Office1:2 and Office2:1;
Office1:1 and Office2:2;
Office0:0 and Office2:3
Please let me know how this one can be done using counting method or we shouldn't.
Junayed Hossain
Office 1: A, B Office 2: C
Office 1: A, C Office 2: B
Office 1: B, C Office 2: A
(Which makes sense. There are three people, so, logically, there are three different ways we can select one of them to be the lonely reject in office 2.)
The same logic would be true for the third scenario in which there is one person in office 1 and two people in office 2.
DavidG@VeritasPrep wrote:Hossain wrote:Brent@GMATPrepNow wrote:You're missing a few scenarios because we have to consider which people are in which office. Imagine, for example, that there are three people: A, B, and C. Now let's take your second scenario, in which there are two people in office 1 and one person in office two.This could play out three waystheCodeToGMAT wrote:A certain company assigns employees to offices in such a way that some of the offices can be empty and more than one employee can be assigned to an office. In how many ways can the company assign 3 employees to 2 different offices?
A. 4
B. 6
C. 7
D. 8
E. 9
Why can't we use counting method? I came up with answer A(4).
We can fill the offices(2) with 3 people in 4 ways as given below:
Office1:3 and Office2:0;
Office1:2 and Office2:1;
Office1:1 and Office2:2;
Office0:0 and Office2:3
Please let me know how this one can be done using counting method or we shouldn't.
Junayed Hossain
Office 1: A, B Office 2: C
Office 1: A, C Office 2: B
Office 1: B, C Office 2: A
(Which makes sense. There are three people, so, logically, there are three different ways we can select one of them to be the lonely reject in office 2.)
The same logic would be true for the third scenario in which there is one person in office 1 and two people in office 2.
Yes,I got it now,Thanks very much.
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This just can't be a question: there are too many ambiguities. (Can an office be empty? Are the offices distinguishable? Heck, are the employees? )
Once we've clarified those points, the rest is formulaic, but we have to clarify those points before we can answer.
Once we've clarified those points, the rest is formulaic, but we have to clarify those points before we can answer.