There Are Several Solutions for This Tricky Math Problem–Can You Get the Correct Answer?

June 12, 2020 Updated: June 12, 2020

Not everyone has the most pleasant memories of math class. Whether it was solving painstaking algebra equations, figuring out how polynomials work, or understanding complex geometry formulas, math can be an unforgiving subject to learn.

Today, we have something simpler to tease your brain, and that might be the perfect way to amuse yourself on your coffee break.

To make it more interesting however, it’s not quite as simple as it seems. There’s a bit of a twist to this question, and you might need to kick-start some of that high school math you once learned in order to solve it.

See if you can solve the question below:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Take a moment or two to solve this on your own. When you think you have the answer, or if you simply give up trying to recollect those high school math lessons you once learned, then scroll down below to see the correct answer.

Epoch Times Photo

Epoch Times Photo
(Illustration – Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

As it turns out, this problem might not seem so simple after all!

In fact, many may dispute the final answer of this equation. And although we have come up with an answer to reveal to you, some may even dispute that answer.

According to our calculations, the correct answer is 12.

Was this the same answer that you got? If so, great job! Or if not, then read on, and we shall reveal how we came to this conclusion, and we must admit in advance that this answer is not without its controversy, as you shall see.

Most of us probably caught on that in order to solve this problem, we must dig up that old math procedure called the “order of operations,” which means we solve problems in the following order: Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division,  Addition and Subtraction. And this is simplified by using the acronym PEMDAS. Also note that multiplication and division should be solved in the order from left to right, as should addition and subtraction.

Epoch Times Photo
(Illustration – MillaF/Shutterstock)

So applying PEMDAS, we solve the parentheses first:

24 ÷ 4 (8 ÷ 4) = ?
24 ÷ 4 (2) = ?

Everyone’s probably all in agreement so far at this stage. However, the next part is where some may differ. By our calculations, and following the rule of PEMDAS, we then solve multiplication and division in the order from left to right …

24 ÷ 4 (2) = ?
6 (2) = 12

… which gives us a final answer of 12.

However, some dispute this answer, saying that the answer should actually be 3. Yet, how did they arrive at this answer, you might ask? The reason is that despite PEMDAS, not everyone looks at this part of the equation the same way:

24 ÷ 4 (2) = ?

According to some conventions in math, a multiplier (4 in this case) beside a notation bound by parentheses (2 in this case) implies precedence in the order of operations ahead of multiplication and division—even though this contradicts the order-of-operations rule. One could argue that this math problem was “poorly phrased” or “unorthodox.” Perhaps the equation could have been made clearer had it been phrased this way:

24 ÷ 4 × (8 ÷ 4) = ?

Then, after solving the part in parentheses, there would be no question about what the final answer would be:

24 ÷ 4 × 2 = 12

Epoch Times Photo
(Illustration – Prostock-studio/Shutterstock)

Whatever answer you got for this problem, you can congratulate yourself for taking in a high school math class refresher. Studies have shown that the better you can use numbers, the better your financial literacy as well as health-related behaviors will be.

So, if you found this problem stimulating, share it with a friend or family member and spread the benefits.