The Washington Post

Virginia’s new math tests: Can you hack them?

How would you fare on Virginia’s new and more difficult generation of state math tests?

The exams, which are being given across Northern Virginia this month, are designed to require critical thinking, not just memorization and arithmetic. Pass rates are expected to drop, perhaps steeply.

Test yourself below on questions from an older and easier version of the exam — the 2010 math Standards of Learning tests, released by the Virginia Department of Education and available online.

Now try your hand at the kinds of questions kids will be tackling this year.

(These also come directly from the Virginia Department of Education, which has posted sets of sample test items online.)

Some of the hardest questions involve graphs and pictures and other difficult-to-reproduce images. But these should give you an inkling of what students are up against, including questions that don’t offer multiple-choice options and that force students to solve multi-step problems.

Grade 3

How is “seven hundred five thousand, three” written in standard form?

Grade 6

Mr. Miller is putting a border around the edges of a rectangular ceiling. The perimeter of the ceiling is 18 meters. Identify the measurements that could be the two dimensions of the ceiling.

2 m; 3 m; 4 m; 5 m; 8 m; 9 m

Algebra I

Solve for x: 6x-11-13x < 7 – 5x

See answers below.


Grade 3: 705,003; Grade 6: 4 m and 5 m; Algebra I: either x>-9 or -9<x

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.


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