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Saturday 29 April 2017

Can you solve the 50 cent maths exam question that is dividing the internet?

High school students have been complaining that the 50 cent piece exam question is too difficult

The 50 cent exam question
The 50 cent exam question

Mark Molloy

A maths exam question for high school students about a 50 cent piece has created a debate online after complaints it was too difficult.

Australian students sat the VCE Further Maths exam which posed the controversial question on November 30 and now adults are having a go at answering it online.

 "A 50 cent coin has 12 sides of equal length. Two 50 cent coins are balanced next to each other on a table so they meet along one edge," the question reads.

Students were then asked to work out the degree of the angle between the coins and given multiple choice options ranging from 12 to 72 degrees.

Daphne Fourniotis, a student at Shelford Girls’ Grammar in Melbourne, Victoria, said she found the question "quite different to the ones we had been doing".

"I did find it challenging … under the stress of the exam," she explained, "I found it a little ambiguous and confusing. I think I was overthinking it.

"You had to read between the lines and analyse the question, people would have jumped at that question too soon."

Another argued: "That exam wasn't there to test us, it was to trick, no one could of prepared for that."

However some have claimed the exam question was too simple, Adam Astill wrote: "This seriously took me 10 seconds to solve. Stop your whinging kids!"

"It is easy. Overthinking did them in," wrote another.

Graeme Newman, a teacher in Victoria, told The Age he believed the maths exam was fair but suggested why some students may have struggled with the 50 cent piece question.

"Most exam questions try to give students a bit of a 'kick along' in terms of the way they set up the diagrams," he said.

"They didn't do that in this question, they really needed to draw the triangles themselves and work it out from there."

So, the answer is 60.  Here's why:


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