How numerate are you?

Apparently just a third of students going into secondary school are numerate. As rightly pointed out by University of Auckland maths lecturer Peter Hughes in today's Herald, the problem we have is that “it had become acceptable to admit failure at high school mathematics as simply not being good at the subject”.

In fact, in my experience, some people wear this as a badge of pride. Some people say that they are bad at maths, but it's ok, they will just do law, or social science or other disciplines that do not require maths. I don't believe that we should put science and maths on a pedestal as objects (subjects?) of worship at the expense of a well-rounded education. For example, learning foreign languages would most certainly enhance your quality of life. But the fact remains that living well requires numeracy skills.

Students entering secondary school should be able to answer the questions here, according to Hughes. I just took this test and had to sweat a little to figure out the answers. This test reminds me of the one I took the last time I applied for a job. I reckon a lot of people out there won't be able to do this within 5 minutes.

Use your brain (and not a calculator) to tackle these sums and see if your numeracy sizes up.

1: 69.9 x 60.08 is closest to:
A 4000
B 4200
C 4400
D 4600

2: The cost of 0.267kg of cheese

is $7.95. Which calculation is needed to find the cost of 1kg of cheese?
A 7.95 ÷ 0.267
B 0.267 + 7.95
C 0.267 x 7.95
D 7.95 – 0.267

3: 79.8 ÷ 0.092 is closest to:
A 80
B 800
C 8000
D 80,000

4: Which has the largest answer? (Don't do any calculations)
A 218 x 217
B 216 x 218
C 217 x 219
D 216 x 217

5: The percentage profit of $500,909 on sales of $1,998,976 is nearest to:
A 10%
B 15%
C 20%
D 25%

Scroll down for answers

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1B, 2A, 3B, 4C, 5D

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.