Can You Solve This Math Problem That Everyone We Asked Got Wrong On Their First Try?

Updated February 14, 2018

When you were in school, were you one of the people who thought what you learned would not prove useful after graduation? That it served no real purpose? If you were, then you’re going to struggle with this math problem. As the internet has evolved, it has exposed humanity’s eagerness to solve and be challenged by puzzles. Whether they are word games that test our vocabulary or optical illusions that challenge our brains and our ability to exercise our vision, puzzles and challenges are popular.

And they always have been since the dawn of human history. People have been creating images within images and looking to mathematics to stretch their minds and make them smarter. Now it’s your chance. Can you figure out the correct answer to this problematic math question? Not many people get it right on their first try.

Here is the puzzle:

9 – 3 ÷ 1/3 + 1 = ?

This math problem challenges your ability to remember the order of operations. That’s where people are hitting a roadblock. If you manage to remember the order of operations, then you should be able to get this right on your first try.

So that you know, the answer is not 9. If you get 9, then you were not able to get it right on your first try. Try again. And remember your order of operations.

According to TipHero.com, a study conducted in Japan by university researchers gave this math problem to a group of young engineers. While thousands of engineers, who were all fresh out of school and in their twenties, tried to solve this problem, only about 60% of them got it correct. And the study concluded that these professionals who require mathematics skills to complete their work lacked basic abilities that a middle school student should be able to get correct.

If you follow the math sequence from left to right, then you’re going to get it wrong.

You have to remember that the order of operations determines how you need to solve problems like this. That means you need to tackle the middle part of the puzzle. If you knew to go for the three ÷ 1/3 part first, then you are among the few math whizzes in the audience who are probably going to get this correct.

But 3 ÷ 1/3 is not an easy thing to solve. It is relatively complex. Dividing by a fraction, as is required in this math puzzle, means that you’re really multiplying by the denominator. In other words, 3 ÷ 1/3 is equivalent to 3 x 3.

Another way to think about it: How many thirds are in the number three? There are three thirds in one, and since there are three ones, then there are 9 thirds. That means 3 ÷ 1/3 is equal to nine.

Once you figure out that 3 ÷ 1/3 is equal to 9, and you perform that function first, then you can follow the equation left to right.

The correct answer to this math problem is 1.

Did you get it right? Challenge your friends!