The internet is baffled by this ridiculously hard math exam question

The internet is baffled by this ridiculously hard math exam question

I can't be the only person in the world who cringes in terror every time they're called upon to do basic math.

Seriously, some people have a knack for numbers, and some people don't, and I definitely fall into the latter camp. Since graduating high school, I've tried to avoid anything harder than basic addition or subtraction, and calculus can send me into a cold sweat.

Which is why I haven't even bothered to attempt to following math question, which has bamboozled scores of people on social media this week.

An image of the exam question. Credit: NSW Board of Education

According to a recent report from, the exam question that's left so many people stumped stems from the Maths Standard two exam, provided by the New South Wales Education Standards Authority, in New South Wales in Australia.

As you can see in the image above, the question includes a box plot of temperature data, and instructs pupils to: "calculate the number of chirps expected in a 15-second interval when the temperature is 19° Celsius. Give your answer correct to the nearest whole number."

However, the test left a number of Twitter users scratching their heads when it was shared on social media, with many struggling to even understand the basic wording of the question, let alone formulate the correct calculation.

For example, one person wrote: "The HSC Maths exam papers are another NESA stuff-up. The way they are justifying it is ridiculous. At the very least, NESA should have told everyone what they might expect instead of dropping it in the exams. [sic]"

According to, a NESA spokeswoman has since acknowledged the difficulty of the question, stating:

"NESA confirms that all questions asked within the Maths Standard 2 exam were within the scope of the syllabus.

"All HSC exam papers are designed to differentiate student achievement. NESA will monitor marking of the Maths Standard 2 paper very closely. Mathematics education is a priority for the NSW Government."

The spokesperson continued:

"The Maths Advanced and Maths Standard 2 papers now include some common questions which are based on shared syllabus content.

“This year 23 marks were common to the two papers. The inclusion of common questions enables NESA to better understand student maths abilities across the different maths courses."

So, do you think you can answer this mind-bending question? Or is the wording simply too obtuse? Let us know!