How do you find the volume of prisms and cylinders?


Quick Answer

Determining the volume of a cylinder and a prism require similar approaches. Both these shapes have parallel ends. However, by definition, the prism cannot have curves, so a cylinder is not a prism. Volumes are often large numbers, so a calculator is useful in calculating the volume of the prism or cylinder.

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Full Answer

  1. Determine the area of the base

    Both bases of a cylinder and a prism have the same area. For the cylinder, use the circle area formula; multiply pi by the square of the radius. For prisms, use the appropriate formula for to determine the area of the base.

  2. Multiply the base by the height

    If the base is expressed in different units than the height, convert the measurements to the same units. For both prisms and cylinders, the volume is equal to the area of the base multiplied by the height.

  3. Use the correct units

    When calculating volume, express the answer in units of volume, which are often cubic linear units. Make sure the units you calculate match those required in the question. If your answer is in cubic centimeters, but the problem asks for an answer in liters, divide the volume in cubic centimeters by 1,000 to express the answer in liters. When calculating volume, wait until you complete all calculations before rounding the answer to the required significant figures to avoid introducing a double rounding error.

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