Monday, July 11, 2011

A Few Mathematics Exam Questions

Not much has changed since Anton Chekhov's day when it comes to math word problems, I see. Here is an excerpt from pages 183-184 of The Undiscovered Chekhov: Forty-Three New Stories, translated by Peter Constantine, with a foreword by Spalding Gray:

3. On New Year’s Eve, 200 people were thrown out of the Bolshoi Theater’s costume ball for brawling. If the brawlers numbered 200, what was the number of guests who were drunk, slightly drunk, sweating, and those trying but not managing to brawl?

4. What is the sum of the following numbers?

5. Twenty chests of tea were purchased. Each chest contained 5 poods of tea, each pood comprising 40 pounds. Two of the horses transporting the tea collapsed on the way, one of the carters fell ill, and 18 pounds of tea were spilled. One pound contains 96 zolotniks of tea. What is the difference between pickle brine and bewilderment?

6. There are 137,856,738 words in the English language, and 0.7 more in the French language. The English and French came together and united their two languages. What is the cost of the third parrot, and how much time was necessary to subjugate these nations?

Oh! I have one!

7. If it is 4 days until the 107th anniversary of the death of Anton Chekhov, How severe was the thunderstorm pummeling the greater Chicago area on the day of Chekhov's birth, how many cows stood ready to kick their lanterns 11 years later, and why are we still getting these types of questions on tests in the 21st century?

This post is dedicated to my nine-year-old nephew, folks who threw their math workbooks against the wall, people who love both math word problems and jokes about math word problems, and anyone who took the GRE analytical section before it changed from multiple-choice questions to written essays. I love math. I love Chekhov at least as much.