Below is one question from the Pennsylvania standardized test for the sixth grade, reproduced exactly from the copy of the question I was given:

78(25 [] 9) = 78 [] 20 [] 78 [] 5 - 78 [] 9

Complete the equation by filling each box with the symbol for addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.

Can you solve the problem that made at least one of my mother's students cry?

78(25 + 9)=78 * 20 + 78 * 5 + 78 * 9.

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*Obscurans*
April 4 2008 8:56 PM EDT

78(25-9)=78*20+78*5-78*9?

78(25-9) = 78x20 + 78x5 - 78x9

all you have to do is look at all the 78s

The problem, JS, is that the second-last operation is subtraction, not an open box.

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*Picasso*
April 4 2008 8:59 PM EDT

78 (25 - 9) = 78 * 20 + 78 * 5 - 78 * 9

Oh, whoops. Silly mistake, but easily fixable.

And Obscurans wins!

I know it wasn't a hard question, I just found it funny that some kid actually started crying over it. Hehe.

If you're looking for something a tad harder, there's always this geometry question.

78 ( 25 - 9) = 78 x 20 + 78 x 5 - 78 x 9

Eyes on your own paper, Lammie!

##
*Xenko*
April 5 2008 2:04 AM EDT

You messed up in step 3, twice:

First of all: 180 - 20 - 30 = 150

Second of all, it should be - x, not + x

So now you solution goes:

3. Angle D = 180 - 20 - 30 - x, thus D = 130 - x

this will give you step 4:

4. 130 - x + x + 50 = 180, thus 180 = 180 (shocker!)

Please try again. :D

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*Xenko*
April 5 2008 2:05 AM EDT

Correction to my previous correction:

First of all: 180 - 20 - 30 = 130

I really wish there was a way to edit posts... even if only for a few minutes after posting.

Angle E is 30 + x, not 30 - x.

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*Xenko*
April 5 2008 12:15 PM EDT

Angle E is 30 + x, but, look at what you are trying to do:

Triangle BDE.

Angle D = 180 - Angle B - Angle E

Angle D = 180 - 20 - (30 + x)

Angle D = 180 - 20 - 30 - x

thus D = 130 - x.

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*Sickone*
April 5 2008 12:22 PM EDT

Nobody reads the hints, do they ?

You CAN'T solve it without making some "additional constructs" on the figure.

You always end up with a "180 = [...] + x - x" kind of thing otherwise.

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*Xenko*
April 5 2008 12:25 PM EDT

I read the hints, tried to solve it for about an hour, then Googled the answer and realized that I didn't want to spend the time trying to go through the answer as it is really, really long.

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