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Forget Viral Maths Questions Popping Up On Your Facebook Feed And Try These Real Algebra Teasers

You won't believe what happened when Sarah from [your location] solved this maths equation that 123% of people got wrong!

  • Forget Viral Maths Questions Popping Up On Your Facebook Feed And Try These Real Algebra Teasers

You’ve probably seen a bunch of maths problems floating around the internet lately, often posed as horrible clickbait or sharebait (is that a thing? Hold on, I’ll Google…yup, it’s called ‘Like-Farming’ apparently) with titles like ‘99% of human adults can’t get this simple maths equation cuz they dummies’.

99%? I’ll show dem who’s smart. *Click*


One that has recently been doing the rounds is this one featuring cowboy boots, horseshoes and some delightful little horsies.

The maths itself isn’t particularly difficult, that’s not the point, this is the internet after all.

The point seems to be that people who don’t know the order of operations will come up with a different answer, so that those who do can point and laugh. Like we said, it’s the internet.

  • So, three horses are 30, each horse is therefore 10.
  • A horse plus two pairs of horseshoes is 18, so a pair of horseshoes is 4.
  • A pair of horseshoes minus a pair of boots is 2, so a pair of boots equals 2.
  • A single boot (which is 1), plus a horse (10), multiplied by a single horseshoe (2) is then what?

The trick here is that people doing the equation 1 + 10 x 2 from left to right will end up with 22 (and the pointing and laughing can commence). But order of operations dictates we do the multiplication first, and get 21.

So while it’s great that maths is getting shared around, it’d be even nicer if the point was just to have fun testing yourself against some brain teasers. So we thought we’d round some up here for you to try with students, without the need to share incorrect answers for the internet to scrutinise with glee.

1. I’m out of order? You’re out of order!

Get the explanation and answer in this handy guide to the order of operations from thecalculatorsite.com. There’s even a bonus BODMAS test question at the end of the guide to tackle.


2. Letter logic

You can find this and loads more at NRICH.


3. The birds and the trees

Find this and other algebra puzzles at Maths is Fun.


4. Inefficient baking

Find this and more at Math Warehouse.


5. I’d buy that for a dollar

This is one of those that’s designed to play on your intuition. So once you’ve shouted ‘$1’ at the screen, calm yourself, and do the maths. A good explanation of the algebra can be found at relativelyinteresting.com.


6. Good Work

Another gem from NRICH which you can find here.

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