PSLE 2017 Maths Question So Chim, You’ll be Glad That You’re Old


Okay, so, Yahoo News reported yesterday about a PSLE Maths question. Is it just me or exam questions seem to be on the headlines recently?


And by the way, every time I hear the word Maths or Mathematics, I get a sudden rise of unbearable ennui and a tad of angst.


I am mathematically inept and throughout my education life, I have been plagued with the merciless and brutal subject—Mathematics.

My memories on PSLE are very vague since it happened many moons ago, but I do remember how I felt about it.

I felt nothing.


I didn’t even know PSLE was a big deal back then. I thought it was a normal final exam set by the school.

Back to the topic at hand, here is the maths question that came out for this year’s PSLE that made it to the news (it has been paraphrased):

Jess wants 200 ribbons of length 110 cm for a party. However, the ribbons were sold at 25 m per tape. How many tapes will Jess need?

Okay, I can feel a sense of helplessness surging through my body already.


Okay, fine, I am going to tackle this question (with the help of a calculator).


My method

It seems like making the unit of measurement the same would be the first step, so you don’t get confused.

Let me change the 110cm into metres.

First step

  • 100cm = 1m
  • 1cm = 1/100m
  • 110cm = 1/100 (110) = 1.1m

Okay, now I feel stupid for even using the calculator for this one. Just hang in with me. I can do this!

Second step:

  • 1.1 x 200 = 220m

So she needs 220m of ribbons (GIRL, WHY DO YOU NEED SO MANY RIBBONS!?)

Third step:

  • 220/ 25 = 8.8

So she would need 8.8 tapes, but I will round it off cause it is highly unlikely that a shop will sell 8.8 tapes.

My answer is 9.


Hell yeah, it is.


Let me check if I am right. So according to Yahoo News, well, I might be wrong.


Hang on, before you scroll down to see the answer, why don’t you attempt the question?

Here’s the correct method.

  • 25m = 2500cm
  • 2500/110 = 22.72

You round it off to 22.

22 is a number of ribbons she can get from each tape.

Since Jess is throwing a big party, she wants 200 ribbons.


Her problem is not realistic.


Okay, back to solving her problem.

We will have to divide the number of ribbons she wants (200) by the number of ribbons each tape produces (22).

200/22 = 9.09

Then you round it off and you get 10.

10 is the answer!


Is the question too hard for PSLE?

I mean there are so many factors to consider like Jess could argue with the shop owner and demand only 9.08 tapes.

Looking at it for the second time, the question isn’t hard, but it is laced with a few tricks.

So, depending on how you do your calculation, you’ll either get 8.8 or 9.09. Now, would the marker give points for both answers…or one of them is wrong?

Is this a trick question or a maths question?

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