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Take That, Richard Cohen

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

February 27, 2006 | Permalink


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Whew! I've been out of school for a _long_ time,* but I still got a 10 out of 10.

* = so long, that back when I was in school we wrote in cuneiform on clay tablets

Posted by: Peter | Feb 27, 2006 10:52:28 AM

How could anyone function in the modern world who doesn't get 10 out of 10 on that quiz? Seriously...

Posted by: Petey | Feb 27, 2006 11:30:43 AM

I got 10 out of 10 too, but I remember 8th grade math being somewhat more challenging than this quiz suggests. It's more like the first two weeks of 7th grade math, at which I excelled, but it was all downhill from there.

Posted by: Sommer | Feb 27, 2006 11:52:54 AM

The .4 < x < 1/2 one is problematic because the answers are in percentages. (yes, I did get it wrong, so am covering my ass...)

Posted by: Pooh | Feb 27, 2006 12:07:53 PM

OK, I got 10 out of 10... BUT I had to guess for the "mode" question (what the hell is that again?) and I wasn't quite sure whether a "whole number" could be negative.

I blame those goddamned Fourier transformations I had to learn in Quantum Mechanics, which probably pushed 8th grade math out of my brain.

Posted by: Al | Feb 27, 2006 12:14:53 PM

I couldn't decide whether integers or whole numbers could be negative.

Posted by: Chad | Feb 27, 2006 12:21:47 PM


Obviously, I think it says a lot for me that I smoked out the trick question on the exam. I wouldn't have made a 100 on the test until I was able to dispute the test questions with the teacher. Sounds a lot like 8th grade actually.

Posted by: Chad | Feb 27, 2006 12:28:54 PM

I have to object to the .4

Posted by: DOWjones | Feb 27, 2006 1:27:37 PM

I have to object to the .4 < x < 1/2 one. Percentages are modifiers, saying 45% = 0.45 is akin to saying the word "hot" means an attractive girl. The correct answer is "none of the above".

Posted by: DOWjones | Feb 27, 2006 1:30:03 PM

I generally agree with Petey, you need these skills to function in the world today (or at least I do), but I will say that the typesetting of some of the questions made them confusing to me (especially the 4 1/3 one--I finalyl decided it must be 4 1/3 because none of the answers made sense with 41/3).

Posted by: flippantangel | Feb 27, 2006 1:31:51 PM

"How could anyone function in the modern world who doesn't get 10 out of 10 on that quiz? Seriously..."

I'd be curious to know what percentage of jobs require _any_ of that information. While I disagree with Richard Cohen's general sentiment, I don't know anyone that needs to know, for example, the difference between "mode" and "median." (can you tell which one I got wrong?)

It would seem that, on a practical basis, 8th grade math skills are useless for the vast majority of people. Sure, they may be stepping stones to later skills or professions, but what profession relies on them at all? More to the point, what percentage of professions do?

Posted by: A_B | Feb 27, 2006 1:32:38 PM

About the .4 < x < 1/2 question: percent = per hundred, so 45% is exactly 45/100. There is no ambiguity.

Posted by: David | Feb 27, 2006 1:38:49 PM

I got an 8/10 but still passed. I can't figure out which ones I got wrong either, and am therefore jealous of all of you and will now go sulk by the coffee station.

Posted by: Greg | Feb 27, 2006 1:47:50 PM

Unlike 0.45, 45% is not a number. The phrase "45 per hundred" is not the same as the number 0.45. This is because numbers are not the same as representations of numbers. 1 is not one coffee cup or one keyboard, it is just a number. Similarly, 0.45 is not 45% of something or 45 per one hundred somethings, it is just a number.

Posted by: DOWjones | Feb 27, 2006 2:15:08 PM

"I don't know anyone that needs to know, for example, the difference between "mode" and "median." "

I think someone who's say, a journalist, should really know what a median is. There is a pretty big difference between median salary and mean salary. I agree that mode is pretty useless relative to those two, but still.

Posted by: MattT | Feb 27, 2006 3:06:13 PM

Well, I give the test makers 9 out of 10. They made one mistake; you can have a negative prime numbers (google it yourself). So -7 is both an interger and a prime number. Here is an excerpt:

Yes, there are negative prime numbers, but you don't have to worry about learning them. If you know the positive prime number, then you don't have far to go. The negative prime numbers are the opposites of the prime numbers.

The positive prime numbers start out with 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, etc.

The negative prime numbers start out with -2, -3, -5, -7, -11, -13, -17, -19, -23, etc.

I doubt that your teacher will even mention negative prime numbers to you. Most math text books don't even mention them.

Posted by: Procrastinus | Feb 27, 2006 3:43:50 PM

Also, Chad already noticed that -7 can be a whole number as well. One mistake is acceptable, but screwing up twice! Tsk, tsk.

Posted by: Procrastinus | Feb 27, 2006 3:48:52 PM

I never saw anyone refer to whole numbers as including negative numbers, but I guess there are a couple of places identified in that Wikipedia links. Still, if "whole numbers" and "integers" are two options in a multiple choice question, it should be clear to the pedantic among us that their definition of whole numbers doesn't include negative numbers (defining "integers" to include both negatives and positives is universally agreed upon).

Negative primes, well, that's also getting pretty pedantic, although arguably a little less so.

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 27, 2006 4:06:30 PM

The really annoying thing about "none of the above" is that the correct answer is below it, and an incorrect answer above it, thus making that choice technically true.

I did get a 10/10 though, but I guess I have an advantage having recently tutored my 13 year old little sister in math.

Posted by: Jedmunds | Feb 27, 2006 9:34:51 PM

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percent:

"A percentage is a way of expressing a proportion, a ratio or a fraction as a whole number, by using 100 as the denominator. A number such as "45%" ("45 percent" or "45 per cent") is shorthand for the fraction 45/100 or 0.45."

Strangely enough, they use the same number to illustrate. Certainly, if there were units associated with either quantity, they would have to agree. But this is not the case here.

Posted by: David | Feb 28, 2006 12:32:34 AM

10 out of 10. I'd wonder if I could get that score on a 12th grade test. :-)

Posted by: Doc | Feb 28, 2006 7:59:09 AM

Haggai, clearly there were several questions that were ambigious. I understand english type multiple choice questions you have to choose "the best answer", but in math I've always thought multiple choice questions meant you have to choose THE answer. If you're going through and see a correct answer, then you should be allowed to answer that answer. If there are two answers, then there are two answers.

I made a 100.

Posted by: Chad | Feb 28, 2006 9:35:53 AM

But this whole number business is silly. Just because one guy at Cambridge said they include negative integers, as per the Wikipedia entry, doesn't automatically make it so. I'd bet there are very few mathematicians anywhere who would consider "whole numbers" to be synonymous with "integers."

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 28, 2006 10:39:05 AM

Don't diss the "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language". 100! Bitch! :)

Posted by: Chad | Feb 28, 2006 10:54:02 AM

Yeah, that bastion of authority when it comes to mathematical terms. :)

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 28, 2006 12:31:43 PM

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