I never thought I excelled at maths and in a very real sense, I don’t and never did. However, I was brought up taught that maths was one of the few subjects where answers weren’t up for debate – at least at GCSE level – and if I had the formulas and whatnot committed to memory, I should be able to pass my exams.

I managed to squeeze out a low A in GCSE maths and I haven’t touched a calculator since. Funnily enough, it was my only A to date; I didn’t even get an A in English. Let me tell you though, it really has helped me in the world of writing articles for an online, Facebook-based magazine.

Anyway, how are you at maths? There’s an easy way to find out, and that’s by checking your previous grades and the like. Then there’s the harder way, and that’s trying to solve these questions…


Honestly this one’s more a test of patience.

Basically, the “experts” advise you to round every number to the nearest five and estimate the answer – then round that to the nearest possible multiple choice answer. All well and good when you have multiple choice, but that’s not all the time, is it?


2. Apparently over 50% of students at Harvard, MIT, and Princeton got this question wrong

I was furious at myself for getting this one wrong.

If you also got this wrong, I’m assuming you guessed $0.10. The reason that isn’t correct is because that would leave the bat costing £1, which is only $0.90 more expensive than a $0.10 ball, not a full dollar.

The ball is worth $0.05, leaving the bat to be worth $1.05.

3. This one isn’t hard, but time consuming

The challenge is to use each digit 1-9 only once to fill in the snake and make the equation equal 66 (colons are division signs).

Apparently it’s easier to write the snake out as a long equation and replace the gaps with letters, algebra style.


Nothing’s actually missing here, it’s just supposed to confuse you with the way it’s laid out. Twitterer Mat Whitehead made a table to explain it…


No maths involved at all here – it’s a sneaky trick question,

Basically it’s upside-down. The answer is 87.


I’m personally shocked this one qualified. It was originally brought up by a mother who was furious her child was being posed this question in their homework.


The real answer is that Cheryl can stop being so difficult but I’m not sure that’s an option.

You can make a graph to mark out the dates and eventually rule out all but one through process of elimination. New York Times published a detailed account on how to solve this one.

If you can’t be arsed to click that link, the answer is July 16.


This one garnered a lot of attention and had many pretty mad. The kid wrote down the columns more or less correctly, but they were marked down for being in the wrong order… there’s really no explaining that.

Andy Kiersz of Business Insider wrote:

The idea that a student should be punished for recognizing and applying the fundamental truth of commutative multiplication in service of drilling in a completely arbitrary convention that they can easily learn when they need it 10 years later strikes me as borderline insane


I got this one wrong because apparently I’m using a form of maths that’s been largely inactive since 1917. I say largely because it’s still being used in some curriculums, such as in my old school. How is that at all fair? Why can’t maths have one answer?

To answer this, you’re to use PEMDAS or BODMAS: Parentheses/Brackets, Exponents/Orders, Multiplication-Division, Addition-Subtraction, If same precedence, left to right.

The answer is 9, but with my outdated maths and maybe yours, you would get 1.


Another one with two answers, but this time they’re both objectively correct. Seems like a recipe for disaster for exams. People marking won’t actually check, they’ll have one possible choice on their answer sheet and mark you down if you don’t have that.

The first way to find it out is adding the equation and combining the answer with that of the previous equation. Conversely, you can multiply the second number of the equation by the number you’re adding it to. The answer can be either 40 or 96. I got the latter… but I feel like I did it a different way?

Maths was a lot easier when the answers weren’t subjective.

But there you have it. How many did you get right? I think I got six. That’s not so bad for a guy who was in the bottom set in secondary school.

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