Posts tagged ‘quiz’
While pointing and clicking, I stumbled upon an online quiz, Can We Guess Your Education Level? Intrigued, I tolerated the 70‑question multiple-choice quiz to see if they could make an accurate prediction. Sure enough, they correctly declared, “It looks like you’re a master with that Master’s Degree.”
How did they know?
The optimist in me thinks they use some incredible adaptive engine to figure out exactly what I know and what I don’t, and then they use that information with a correlation of what people at various educational levels know. Sounds plausible, right?
But the pessimist in me was pretty sure they just mined info from my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and they likely knew the answer before I responded to a single question.
So, I tested my theory. I took the quiz a second time and deliberately missed a bunch of questions. When I finished, I scored only 21%, and they told me, “It appears that you completed high school, and then graduated from the School of Life.”
Okay, so it is at least based on percent correct. I’m still dubious that it’s rigorous, but at least it isn’t digging through my personal information just to dupe me.
For fun, my 9‑year old son said that he’d like to take the test. And this is when I knew it was complete bullshit — because he scored higher than I did:
Hold on a second. You’re telling me that I spent five glorious years at the Pennsylvania State University earning my undergraduate degree, and then I spent five magnificent years at the University of Maryland earning my master’s degree, and yet my son — who hasn’t spent even five years total in the educational system — was able to outperform me on an academic quiz?
“Hello, is this Penn State? I’d like my money back.”
What really got me, though, is that the math on this quiz — just like every other online quiz, multidisciplinary test, and academic competition — was paltry.
There were seven math-related questions on the test, none of which rose above the level of “basic,” and some were even lower than that. But don’t take my word for it; decide for yourself…
- Speed is defined as…
- What is the name of the result when you add four numbers and then divide the sum by 4?
- What is the definition of binary?
- How many events are in a decathlon?
- What is the value of the Roman numeral IX?
- Who wrote The Elements, and what was it about?
- The year 1707 is part of which century?
Can we all agree that these are rather easy math questions? It makes me wonder if our discipline is just so abstract or elusive that even the most basic of questions is perceived as difficult by a large portion of the population. If so, what accounts for this perception?
Your thoughts are most welcome.
It’s hard to believe that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been on the air since 1999, isn’t it? Even harder to believe is the number of math questions that have been missed by contestants.
In this post, I’m going to share five questions that have appeared on WWTBAM, followed by a brief discussion. If you’d like to solve them before reading the discussion, or if you want to share the quiz with friends or students, you can download it:
Three of the five questions were answered incorrectly by contestants. In one case, the contestant polled the audience and received some bad advice. If I hadn’t put this collection together, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to identify which ones were answered correctly. So maybe that’s a bonus question for you: Which two questions were answered correctly?
I’m unquestionably biased, but I always feel like the math questions on WWTBAM are easier than questions from other disciplines. Then again, maybe a history major would think that questions about Eleanor of Aquitaine are trivial. But take these non-math questions:
- In the children’s book series, where is Paddington Bear originally from? (Wait… he’s not from England?)
- What letter must appear at the beginning of the registration number of all non-military aircraft in the U.S.? (Like most things, it’s obvious — once you know the answer.)
- For ordering his favorite beverages on demand, LBJ had four buttons installed in the Oval Office labeled “coffee,” “tea,” “Coke,” and what? (Hint: the drink wasn’t available when he was Vice President.)
My conjecture is that non-math questions generally have an answer that you either know or don’t know, but math questions can be solved if given enough time to apply some logic and computation.
Perhaps you’ll disagree after attempting these questions.
1. What is the minimum number of six-packs one would need to buy in order to put “99 bottles of beer on the wall”?
2. Which of these square numbers also happens to be the sum of two smaller square numbers?
3. If a euro is worth $1.50, five euros is worth what?
- Thirty quarters
- Fifty dimes
- Seventy nickels
- Ninety pennies
4. How much daylight is there on a day when the sunrise is at 7:14 a.m. and the sunset is at 5:11 p.m.?
- 9 hours, 3 minutes
- 8 hours, 37 minutes
- 9 hours, 57 minutes
- 8 hours, 7 minutes
5. In the year she turned 114, the world’s oldest living person, Misao Okawa of Japan, accomplished the rare feat of having lived for how long?
- 50,000 days
- 10,000 weeks
- 2,000 months
- 1 million hours
Discussion and Answers
1. Okay, really? Since 16 × 6 = 96, one would need 17 six-packs, B.
2. This is the one for which the contestant asked the audience. That was a bad move… 50% of the audience chose A, but only 30% chose the correct answer. Since 25 = 9 + 16, and both 9 and 16 are square numbers (9 = 32, 16 = 42), the correct answer is B.
3. It’s pretty easy to calculate $1.50 × 5 = $7.50. The hard part is figuring out which coin combination is also equal to $7.50. Okay, it’s not that hard… but it took Patricia Heaton a lifeline and more than 4 minutes.
4. My question is whether daylight is officially defined as the time from sunrise to sunset. Apparently, it is. That makes this one rather easy. From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. is 10 hours, and since 11 and 14 only differ by 3 minutes, we need a time that is 3 minutes less than 10 hours: C, final answer.
5. Without a doubt, this is the hardest of the five questions. Contestants aren’t allowed to use calculators, so they need to rely on mental math. Estimates will do wonders in this case.
- Days: 114 years × 365.25 days/year ≈ 100 × 400 = 40,000 days
- Weeks: 114 years × 52.18 weeks/year ≈ 120 × 50 = 6,000 weeks
- Months: 114 years × 12 months/year < 120 × 12 = 1,440 months
- Hours: 114 years × 365.25 days × 24 hr/day ≈ 40,000 × 25 = 1,000,000 hours
Only the last result is close enough to be reasonable, so the answer must be D.
What’s amusing is that the contestant got the correct answer, but for the wrong reasons. For instance, he estimated the number of weeks to be 50,000, not 5,000. He then used that result to say, “It can’t be 50,000 days, because it’s about 50,000 weeks.” That’s using a false premise to arrive at a correct conclusion. On the other hand, I wonder how well I’d be able to calculate in front of a national audience with $25,000 on the line. Regardless of how he got there, he correctly chose D, to which host Terry Crews said, “You took your time on this. You worked it through. It’s what we all need to do in life sometimes. And that’s how you win the game!”
Should I ever become a question writer for Millionaire, I’d submit the following:
Which of the following are incorrect answers to this question?
- B, C, D
- A, B, C
- A, C, D
- A, B, D
Yesterday morning on Cooley and Kevin, a local sports radio show, the hosts and producer each posited three questions that could be used to determine if someone is a real man. (The implication being, if you can’t answer all three, then you ain’t.) I didn’t like that many of the questions focused on sports, but I’m not surprised. I was, however, surprised by some of the non-sports questions. What do you think?
Thom Loverro (guest host):
- Who wrote The Old Man and The Sea?
- What was the name of the bar owned by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca?
- Name three heavyweight boxing champions.
Kevin Sheehan (regular host):
- Who was Clark Kent’s alter ego?
- Name one of the two fighters in the “Thrilla in Manila.”
- Who won the first Super Bowl?
Greg Hough (producer):
- Name one James Bond movie and the actor who played James Bond in it.
- Who did Rocky beat to win the title?
- With what team did Brett Favre win a Super Bowl?
During the rounds of trivia, Loverro remarked, “If you can name three heavyweight champs but haven’t seen Casablanca, then you’re still in puberty.”
This made me wonder:
What three questions would you ask to determine if someone is a real woman?
One possible question might be, “Name two of the three actresses who tortured their boss in the movie Nine to Five.” Then I remembered that women don’t play the same stupid games that men do. And I realized that strolling too far down that path will lead to hate mail or a slap or both. So, let’s move on.
It also made me wonder if there are three questions you could ask to determine if someone is a real math geek. Sure, you could use the Math Purity Test, but that’s 63 questions. A 95% reduction in the number of items would be most welcome.
So, here are my three questions:
- What’s the eighth digit (after the decimal point) of π?
- What’s the punch line to, “Why do programmers confuse Halloween and Christmas?”
- Name seven mathematical puzzles that have entered popular culture.
And my honorable mention:
- What’s the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
One of my initial questions was, “Have you ever told a math joke for your own amusement, knowing full well that your audience either wouldn’t understand it or wouldn’t find it funny?” But I tossed that one, because it’s a yes/no question that was personal, not factual. Eventually, which questions were kept and which were discarded came down to one simple rule: If nothing was lost by replacing a question with, “Are you a math dork?” then it should be rejected.
How’d I do? Opinions welcome. Submit new or revised questions for determining one’s math geekiness in the comments.
I recently purchased the book How Smart Are You? Test Your IQ for the same reason that I always purchase books like this — often, there are one or two gems buried amid a pile of mundane, mind-numbing questions.
Having just finished the last quiz, here’s all you need to know about this book:
- I found it on the discount table at Barnes and Noble.
- There is a picture of a wise, all-knowing owl on the front cover. (Ooh, an owl! I feel smart already!)
- The tag line on the cover reads, “Calculate Your IQ in Minutes,” yet the Introduction states, “Your scores will not reflect your actual intelligence.”
When it comes to measuring your IQ using this book, the following scale will be more effective than anything you’ll find between the covers:
|Did You Buy this Book?
The book contains 50 quizzes with 10 questions each. Each question is worth 16.5 points, so your IQ is found by multiplying the number correct on a given quiz by 16.5.
I hate to deliver the bad news.
The results of your IQ test have come back negative.
Sadly, there were no gems among the 500 questions in the book. (Honestly, I found it more difficult to calculate my score than to answer most of the questions.) Yet there were quite a few duds. And that’s where we’ll start today’s story.
One question asked the reader to identify the next number in the series:
5, 13, 21, 29, 37, 44, …
You may notice that 5 + 8 = 13, 13 + 8 = 21, and 21 + 8 = 29, so you might think that the rule is “add 8.” But 37 + 8 ≠ 44, so the pattern fails. You don’t even need to check the addition, though; since the first term is odd and the common difference is even, all terms must be odd. The number 44 should have stuck out like a sore thumb to any editor worth his salt. Yet that did not stop the author from listing 44 + 8 = 52 as the correct answer.
Similarly, another problem asked:
A high school has 40 students in its senior class. Forty percent of the seniors are taking physics, 30 percent are taking chemistry, and 10 percent are taking neither. How many seniors are taking neither physics or chemistry? (Ed. note: emphasis added.)
You might first think that 4 students are taking neither physics nor chemistry (nevermind that the problem used or instead of nor), since the problem says that 10% are taking neither, and 10% of 40 is 4. Upon seeing the correct answer listed as 16 students, you might then think, “What the f**k?” And that would be a justifiable reaction. I suspect that this was meant to be one of those questions where the numbers in the three groups adds to more than 100%, so the overlap becomes important, but this problem is an epic fail as presented.
Some people should have to pass an IQ test
to drive or reproduce. Fail the test,
you get birth control and a bus pass.
A little later, on a quiz titled “Unscramble the Letters I,” readers were directed to unscramble the letters
to create an English word or name.
The Internet Anagram Server says that there are three: field, filed, flied. Finding one of them without the Internet seems like a reasonable challenge. But within the book, the problem is presented as a multiple-choice question:Oh, my. Anyone smart enough to read a book would see immediately that fled doesn’t have enough letters, flies has an s instead of the requisite d, and delight has too many letters. How many people have been misled by this quiz, scoring a 165 and then thinking that they were Harvard material?
My favorite in this section, though, was the scrambled-letter collection
which I immediately recognized to be pterodactyl, but then thought, “No, wait, there’s no o.” Yet pterodactyl was the only reasonable option among the four answer choices (Pericles, lethargic, pterodactyl, and pictogram), so I ignored the omission and collected another perfect score of 165. (Yay, me!)
As I said above, there were no gems, but I’ll end with the only problem in the entire book that I even mildly enjoyed:
A car traveled 281 miles in 4 hours and 41 minutes. What was the car’s average speed in miles per hour?
This one was also presented as a multiple-choice question, but it’s more fun to solve without the options. Have at it.
Thanks to the folks at Quizlet, I’m able to offer you an opportunity to prove how smart you are.
Know what a polygon is?
Do you know the value of a trillion pins?
Think you know about polar bears?
Try your hand at this 26-question quiz. For each definition, just enter the term to which it is referring.
Post your results in the Comments, or share other math definitions.
Answers to the twelve questions from yesterday’s quiz.
- Just one. Then it’s no longer empty.
- Both have four quarters.
- A half dollar. Remove ‘half,’ and it becomes a dollar.
- Eight. A penny and a quarter is 26 cents.
- The letter ‘e.’
- Your age.
- Because then it would be a foot.
- 51,005 people, because DEAD = 51,005 in hexadecimal.
- Take away the ‘s.’
- Lack of fit.
- They pay out the award as follows: 1 dollar the first week, 1/2 dollar the second week, 1/3 dollar the third week, and so on.
Twelve questions to get the mental math joke juices flowing. Answers will be posted tomorrow.
- How many eggs can you put in an empty basket?
- How is the moon like a dollar?
- What coin doubles in value when half is taken away?
- If you can buy 8 eggs for 26 cents, how many can you buy for a penny and a quarter?
- What occurs once in a minute, twice in a week, but only once in a year?
- What goes up but never comes down?
- Why is it impossible for a human arm to be exactly 12 inches long?
- Only DEAD people can read hexadecimal. How many people can read hexadecimal?
- How do you make 7 even?
- One is the loneliest number, two’s company, and three’s a crowd. What is four and five?
- Why do statisticians hate to shop for clothes?
- The math department organizes a raffle in which the prize is announced as an infinite amount of money paid over an infinite amount of time. With the promise of such a prize, the department is able to sell lots of tickets. How could the department offer such a prize and not go broke?