If you’re in Singapore’s education system, you can’t just be average. You have to be a genius. Have you seen the PSLE Maths questions these days? Even the multiple-choice questions will make you tear your hair out. But then, we did top the recent PISA rankings.

No, not this Pisa. Credit: Amazing Places to See Before You Die Facebook Page

No, not this Pisa. Credit: Amazing Places to See Before You Die Facebook Page

PISA stands for Programme for International Student Assessment, and it’s basically the “World Cup for education”. Singapore was literally first in the world in maths, science, and reading – thanks to our horribly difficult academic questions. Don’t believe me? Check out five of the most insanely difficult questions Singaporean students have ever had to face.

 

1. Cheryl’s birthday

So when is Cheryl's birthday? Credit: Mathematicx Facebook Page

So when is Cheryl’s birthday? Credit: Mathematicx Facebook Page

This question first came to light under the erroneous assumption that it was a Primary 5 Maths question, although nobody would be surprised if it were really the case. It was later revealed to be a Singapore and Asian Schools Maths Olympiad question, targeted at secondary students… which only made things marginally better, we suppose.

It’s so infamous that it’s even spawned its own Wikipedia entry complete with solutions, and a sequel question was developed later, “Cheryl’s age”. It didn’t see as much fanfare as the original question though.

 

2. How much six $1 coins weigh?

How much does this weigh? Credit: Eric S K Lee

How much does this weigh? Credit: Eric S K Lee

In the 2015 PSLE Maths paper, a multiple-choice question asked students for the weight of eight $1 Singapore coins. Was it 6 grams, 60 grams, 600 grams, or 6 kilograms (6,000 grams)?

Although this question was aimed at testing the estimation ability of Primary 6 students (it’s in the syllabus), it drew flak for being not explicitly about Maths, as one irate person pointed out.

While it’s fair to assume that all adults have handled a $1 coin, it might not have been the case for Primary 6 students, especially those who pack their lunches to school.

Would you have been able to answer it when you were 12?

 

3. How can a seahorse’s hard and bony body covering be an advantage?

Seahorse. Credit: 11 eleven Facebook Page

Seahorse. Credit: 11 eleven Facebook Page

If your answer to that question is that it acts as armour to protect the seahorse from predators, you’d be marked wrong.

The correct answer is that it protects the seahorse from injury and reduces the chances of predators successfully feeding on it.

If you’re groaning at how pedantic the marking scheme is, you’re not alone. Many argued that it showed conceptual understanding of what the seahorse’s hard and bony body coverings were for, while others said that it was more a case of accuracy in answering.

Regardless, it might be best to just avoid the word “armour” in Science questions.

 

4. Subjunctive mood questions (questions 2 to 4)

Subjunctive mood. Credit: Kids R Simple Facebook Page

Subjunctive mood. Credit: Kids R Simple Facebook Page

Got those questions wrong? That’s because it doesn’t just depend on simple subject-verb agreement, but also hypotheticals, known as the subjunctive mood. As a result, it means the answers are (1) for questions 2 to 4.

As Facebook user Farene Ng explains, “I think this is called the subjunctive mood in English. It is often used to express opinions on what should happen. The back part of the sentence, from ‘that …” onwards, is a clause. This clause serves only to express the meaning of the opinion, and the verb inside is always in present tense, without -s.”

If you thought the seahorse’s body armour questions was difficult…

 

5. Find the missing value (question 8)

Look at Question 8. Credit: Imgur

Look at Question 8. Credit: Imgur

This insanely difficult Primary 5 question spawned an entire Reddit discussion to which there was no definitive answer. While it’s obviously supposed to be a number pattern question, it’s not easy to find the correlation between the numbers, if at all.

If anyone can tell us the answer to this, please let us know. It might be a typo too, but this is a typo that’s probably wasted a lot of time for many students…

 

 

Bad Genius. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Bad Genius. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

So what happens if you can’t get through the system legitimately? You turn to “other” tactics, of course . That’s exactly what happens in Bad Genius! A group of enterprising students start an exam answers racket and soon find the opportunity of a lifetime awaiting them. The problem is, they’ll need to convince a Good Genius to become a Bad Genius

Which might be a simpler task than answering any of the above questions.

 

Credits: Amazing Places to See Before You Die Facebook Page, Mathematicx Facebook Page, Eric S K Lee in Singapore Taxi Driver Facebook Group, 11 eleven Facebook Page, Kids R Simple Facebook Page, Imgur, Jaycelyn YSL Facebook Profile,