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# What makes a bad maths question Watch

1. So I'm applying for a teaching position at my uni, and one thing we are asked to write a brief summary of is what makes a bad maths question. Now I've got some ideas myself, but was wondering if anyone could give me there input so I can get a more general idea, as obviously opinions will differ on this.

My ideas: It's ambiguous in it's wording. It doesn't require the mathematician to think or stretch them in any particular way.
3. (Original post by TenOfThem)
How did I miss that one! aha. Thanks for contributing any others, this is actually surprisingly hard to answer. I imagine it's easier for maths teachers though? You have to set questions etc.
4. Use of confusing language. Think of for example: "take away" or "work out this sum" when you mean CALCULATION etc...
5. Inappropriate questions for the age group.

See here

Edit:

And here
6. A question with a 'real-life situation' that the student would have had no reason to come across.

My maths teacher was telling us about a paper she was marking for year 10 where one of the questions asked them to work out how many rolls of wallpaper you would need to cover a wall but there was no leeway in the mark scheme for students who had never seen anyone hanging wallpaper before and didn't realise the strips go vertically. She had to give about half of them no marks because they worked it out with horizontal strips.
7. (Original post by ghostwalker)
Inappropriate questions for the age group.

See here

Edit:

And here
Those are actually crazy!
8. (Original post by Music99)
Those are actually crazy!
Indeed. But a real life example!
9. (Original post by ghostwalker)
Indeed. But a real life example!
Only in Singapore XD.
10. I have had tests in the past where at the beginning they have stood at the front and said "Actually, this question is impossible, don't try to do it." That seems like bad form.
11. (Original post by ghostwalker)
Inappropriate questions for the age group.

See here

Edit:

And here
haha, you can't say he wasn't creative..
12. (Original post by CodeJack)
hahahaha, you can't say he wasn't creative..
I have to admit I did laugh :P.
13. (Original post by Music99)
So I'm applying for a teaching position at my uni, and one thing we are asked to write a brief summary of is what makes a bad maths question. Now I've got some ideas myself, but was wondering if anyone could give me there input so I can get a more general idea, as obviously opinions will differ on this.

My ideas: It's ambiguous in it's wording. It doesn't require the mathematician to think or stretch them in any particular way.
At A-level, I remember questions where they'd ask you to use unnecessary substitutions to evaluate integrals (i.e where it was possible to integrate directly)

14. (Original post by TenOfThem)
15. (Original post by Lord of the Flies)
16. A badly worded problem (rather commonplace in permutation/combination ones) where the demands of a working process can be interpreted in more than one manner.

And as Indeterminate has pointed out earlier, redundant suggestions of substitutions in integrals which can be cracked open directly are just plain sickening. Why make something difficult when it is actually so easy to solve? Sheesh.

Peace.

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Updated: March 30, 2013
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