I can't believe not one of a thousand parents could get this right??????


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I don't believe that only 8% gave an answer but I can see why no-one got it right.

I fully understand what's happening in terms of there being a bunch of areas that can be shown to equal a certain size, but I don't understand what the question is asking.

I wouldn't know where to start with showing a proof because I'm not sure what the process is for displaying the answer.

I can work through the algebra and give some sort of answer but I doubt it would be the one the examiner was looking for even if it was 'correct'.

Billy Horner

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When I read the question in isolation (as described in the article) I did think it sounded quite difficult. When you see the question alongside the shape and measurements, however, it’s incredibly straightforward.


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it’s not difficult at all if you’ve done A-Level maths or above, and the “show” bit is exactly as said above, you just have to prove the maths behind the outcome that gives you A as the area of the rectangle, convince the examiner you can work it through.

I can understand why, though, people who hated Maths or didn’t take it seriously at school don’t have a clue what it’s on about. Am shocked not 1 out of 1000 folk could do it mind, that’s mental.


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It’s relatively easy if you just use logic to work through the steps.
But that relies on you knowing that there are steps to work through.

As with anything, if you know what you're expected to do it's easy. If you haven't come across it before (or in 20+ years) then knowing where to start is the difficult part.

I'd imagine that with an example and a bit of prompting then 70% of adults would manage to work it out. Being given it cold (and under unknown circumstances) the 'none in a thousand' doesn't surprise me.


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It all depends if you can remember how to do algebra or not doesn't it? It's not hard from what I recall, I last did some as a module in a non maths degree about 12 years ago, but I'm buggered if I can remember how to do it now. Most people just don't use it once they leave education.

Suspect those saying it's easy either have an interest in maths or do this sort of thing professionally. But it's not really about how hard the problem it is. It's "can you remember how to do algebra"?

After a few years of not doing it I'm not surprised most adults can't answer the question.


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I'm as nonplussed as the OP. The problem requires a small amount of knowledge then a bit of logic and clear thinking which is what maths teaches you. Even if you can't remember how to do (very) basic algebra you should be able to make a start on this. Perhaps Sunak was right (but probably for the wrong reasons and stopped clocks and all that) and perhaps Pegg's rant may have made more sense if he'd deployed a bit of logic and clear thinking.