t Double Yellow's Musings: Demystifying the flawed PSLE Math Question
The warped mind of Double Yellow craves for humor everyday. His daily dose comes from The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Today, Channelnewsasia, etc. He also thinks that because of this preamble, this blog will never get featured in the local media. And of course, please read the Disclaimer before embarking on the journey.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Demystifying the flawed PSLE Math Question

The super intelligent people who set the PSLE math exam paper messed up a question this year. The infamous problem was to find out the area of a small rectangle given the dimensions of two triangles and a bigger rectangle.

Simple enough you say? Well, it turns out the multiple choice question did list a ‘correct’ answer but the question was er, flawed. How so? At a glance, the problem is easily solvable. But when you try to actually try to construct a rectangle based on the dimensions given, cannot leh (see pitcher taken from The Straits Times)

But Singaporeans are not giving in so easily. They say, only chewren who got the ‘correct’ answer should be given marks for that question. Only these chewren should have a better chance of getting through a secondary school of their choice. If there was an apparent ‘correct’ answer, who gives a shit whether the rectangle can be constructed or not? Secondary school more important than drawing a rectangle, koray or not?

The people who set the exam paper use a very deep logic when setting the problems. I dreamt last night about how they went set this question....

Step 1: Draw the rectangle on a large piece of paper
Step 2: Throw darts and pick the areas to shade
Step 3: The winner gets to choose the ‘unknown’ area

Question Setter 1: Last week, you got attend annual dinner party or not?
Question Setter 2: Of course, got free food what....
Question Setter 1: How many lobsters did you eat?
Question Setter 2: Fifteen
Question Setter 1: Ta da, we have the length of the rectangle
Question Setter 2: And how many beers did you have?
Question Setter 1: Six
Question Setter 2: Ta da, breadth of the rectangle
Question Setter 1: How old is your son?
Question Setter 2: Four. How old is your daughter?
Question Setter 1: Eight
Question Setter 2: Brilliant, the areas of the two shaded areas settle oredi

That’s not all....

Question Setter 1: You know what, we now have the numbers 15, 6, 4, 8
Question Setter 2: In order to get to the answer, they have to find out the area of half the rectangle. That’s 45.
Question Setter 1: And the answer to the question is 25.
Question Setter 2: Awesome, 15, 6, 4, 8, 45, 25 – now can go and buy TOTO hor....

In order to determine whether this dream is true or not, I decided to travel to ulu National Institute of Education. Guess what I found.... they have a centre of Singapore Centre for Teaching Thinking. I dunno whether it was (1) to teach the teachers on how to teach students how to think or (2) to teach the teachers themselves how to think :) Anyways, the board was blank.... go figure :)


Blogger trisha said...

It's the place where the lecturers think about how to teach teachers how to think.

As the empty notice board shows, they haven't got a clue yet.

4:15 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hahaha trisha !! so true, so true :) mebbe they need to set up another centre to teach the lecturers about how to think on teaching teachers how to think... heheh.

They can 'creatively' call it Centre for Lecturer's Thinking and have the notice board right next to this one :p

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Soo Wesley said...

So Boring!

4:59 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

bingo :)

8:01 AM  
Anonymous lee hsien tau said...

If the rectangle is 15 by 6, then 2.5, 10, 22.5, 40, 62.5 are possible answers assuming proportions are maintained. It's a case of supplying too many constants that the question setter contradicted him/herself.

12:38 AM  

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