See if you can solve this simple arithmetic problem:


Are you done, Einstein? Say your answer out loud so we know you didn’t cheat.

Are you ready to see if you got it right? OK.

Here’s how you solve it:

(for the answer, click on the grey box below that says “Readmore…”)

9 – (3 ÷ (1/3)) + 1 =

9 – 9 + 1 =

0 + 1 =

1 (that’s the correct answer)

I read that 60% of 20 year-olds in Japan could solve it, down from 90% in 1980. I don’t know if that’s true, but if so, that’s pretty sad. Bet it’s way, way worse in the U.S. What do you think?

If you got it wrong, be sure to share your shame with everyone in the comment section. Include your highest level of education and lamest excuse.

Thanks to Presh Talwalkar / Image credit Massimo Variolo

  • Got it 🙂 Bachelor’s Degree and I tutored 5th graders. This is 5th grade math in the US.

    • Steve Tobak

      Yup, but as my wife discovered, the question is how many remember it?

  • Pinay Cupid

    I bombed and got the wrong answer, but I have a good excuse. I accidentally saw Hillary Clinton speaking on TV yesterday and my IQ dropped 60 points in 1 second. Had I not seen that, I would have easily gotten the right answer.

    • Steve Tobak


  • E Van

    I got it right and figured I would from the start. I also know how to spell, know my grammar and punctuation. Came from a generation taught phonics and math without calculators.

    • Steve Tobak

      But can you name every member of the Kardashians?

      • E Van

        Unfortunately, because I read everything, I confess I probably could

  • nbrookwood

    Please My Dear Aunt Sally…

    (Precedence : * / + – )

    • Steve Tobak

      Is that you Nathan?

      • nbrookwood

        I’m the only NBrookwood I know, Steve.
        (I came to your website to compliment your takedown of Heather Bresch. Nice Job!

        • Steve Tobak

          Thanks! If you’re still hanging around these parts let’s meet for lunch in LG sometime.