This May, many advanced math students in Scotland were flummoxed by an exam provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The test was so difficult that over 14,000 students signed two online petitions urging the SQA to consider the unusual difficulty and grade accordingly. In fact, some found the stress to be so taxing that it reduced them to tears.
SQA responded to these fears, stating that a pass mark would be determined once each test was graded. In August, the passing grade was announced to be a very low 34 percent. The assessment was decidedly too challenging and the passing mark had to be lowered from the previous year’s 45 percent. Jim Reid, who was in charge of the math exam until 2012, toldBBC Scotland that this passing mark is the lowest he has ever seen.
While the entire math exam was considered too difficult, one question about a crocodile stood out for being particularly bewildering. The SQA cited that it “proved to be challenging for most candidates.” Other whimsical, but challenging questions included a toad and frog escaping a well and designing a plaque for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The problem is certainly a head-scratcher, but not impossible. You can see YouTube channel DLBMaths solve it here, but it does take a full 10 minutes.
Reprinted from Mental Floss.
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