Tricky Math Questions

Don't let tricky questions confuse you.
••• gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Math problems can be simple or complicated, long or short -- and sometimes they're even a little bit tricky. It can be challenging to solve brainteaser questions, even when they involve some mathematics. Don't let tricky questions confuse you. View them as a puzzle rather than a problem and you'll be able to solve them easily.

A Tricky Divide-by Problem

Take a seemingly simple math problem: Divide 50 by 1/2, then add 20. Many students will start solving by dividing 50 in half, yielding 25, and then adding 20 to get an answer of 45. But that's incorrect. Instead, take a look at the question: It says, divide 50 by 1/2 not divide 50 into 1/2. This means you'll need to divide 50 by 1/2 -- or 0.5 as a decimal -- to yield 100. Then add 20; so the correct answer is 120.

A "More Than" Question

If a bottle of soda costs $4.50, and the bottle costs $3 more than the soda, how much does the soda cost? A common mistake is to simply subtract $3 from $4.50, resulting in a cost of $1.50 for the soda. However, that's incorrect. To correctly set up this solution, create an equation, using "s" for the soda. You know that the bottle costs $3 more than the soda, so the bottle would be represented as s + 3, using the following steps:

  • s + (s + 3) = 4.50
  • 2s + 3 = 4.50
  • 2s = 1.50
  • s = 0.75

So the cost of the soda is $0.75. The bottle is $3 more than that, or $3.75.

A Consecutive Number Question

If the sum of 3 consecutive numbers is 213, what are the numbers? Some students might try to guess groups of numbers, which could take a while. Look at another strategy to solve the problem: Set up an equation for each number. Use "x" to represent the first number. Since you know they are consecutive numbers, the next number would be x + 1 and then the final number is x + 2. Set up an equation, then solve it as follows.

  • x + (x + 1) + (x + 2) = 213
  • 3x + 3 = 213
  • 3x = 210
  • x = 70

So the first number is 70. That means that the three numbers are 70, 71 and 72.

A Takeaway Question

How many times can you take 6 away from 36? Some students might jump to the answer of 6, but that's not correct. The question asks how many times you can take 6 away from 36. The correct answer is only once. After you take away 6 once, you don't have 36 any longer: 36 - 6 = 30. At that point, you're not taking 6 away from 36, you're taking it away from 30, then 24 and so on. So the correct answer is: just once.

Related Articles

How to Factorise in Math
How to Divide Fractions With Ease
How to Solve Inequalities
How to Write a Division Story Problem
How to Find the Sum And Difference of Cubes
How to Solve Linear Systems Algebraically
How to Add & Subtract Improper Fractions
How to Multiply Fractional Exponents
How to Factor Monomials
How to Convert a Decimal to a Whole Number
How to Subtract Mixed Numbers With Regrouping
How to Find The Square Root of a Number
How to Add Parentheses to Make a Statement True
How to Solve Trinomials With Fractional Exponents
What Is an Integer in Algebra Math?
The Four Types of Multiplication Properties
How to Do Math Problems in Your Head at Lightning Speed
How to Factor Higher Exponents
How to Take 24 Numbers & Calculate All Combinations
How to Solve Exponents Without a Calculator