How one boy got this maths question right – but it was ‘wrong’

Year 3 Pupil gets marked down even though the answers are spot on


A simple maths test has been causing a right stir on social media this week because the pupil was marked down despite getting the answer RIGHT.


The test paper, posted on Imgur, shows that the student has correctly answered that 5×3 is 15. But the teacher has marked the child down (see the -1 to the left) because they have written their workings out as 5 + 5 + 5 rather than 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3.

The same thing has happened in question 2, with the pupil getting the answer to 4×6 right, but has been marked down as their workings show 6 groups of 4 instead of 4 rows of 6.

The posting caused a flurry of comments, with one person saying: “Normally on the side of teachers but… this one needs to start over and go back to school themselves”.

Another has said: “Absolutely stupid to mark that wrong. Sickening. To apply such meaningless pedantry to problem solving is a sign of idiocy in the teacher.”


But could there be any justification at all for marking this pupil down when the answers were bang on? The National Council of Teachers in Mathematics based in the USA has defended the teacher who marked the paper, saying:

“Part of what we are trying to teach children is to become problem solvers and thinkers. We want students to understand what they’re doing, not just get the right answer.”

The theory goes that using the ‘correct’ methodology in early maths problems will make it easier when they move on to harder maths problems.

What do you think?

If the answer’s right, isn’t it right? Or do you get why the teacher took marks away? Tell us in the comments below.

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