Graduate essays | The “exceptionally easy” long math yo-task confused high school students – Could you solve the “magic square”?

According to the students, the graduation essay exam was quite difficult, but one question confused the students with its ease. You can find the question and its answer in this story from Helsingin Sanomat.

This one the long mathematics exam of the spring matriculation essays has sparked a discussion among students. The exam was held on Wednesday, it had three parts and 13 tasks.

There have been discussions about the test on social and traditional media forums. For example, Ylen On the Abitrenit website test takers have been able to describe their feelings and tell what they thought Wednesday’s test was like. Most of the respondents estimated that the exam was quite demanding or just too difficult.

Secretary General of the University Examination Board (YTL). Tiina Tähkän according to the students’ feedback has been that the exam was quite difficult. The spring exam has been considered a little less difficult than some of the other long math exams last year.

The long mathematics exam was three-part and contained 13 questions.

In the exam in addition to the difficult questions, there were also “exceptionally easy questions”, describes the student who approached Helsingin Sanom.

He especially characterizes task five as exceptionally easy, which according to the student was confusing due to its simplicity. He says that the assignment did not correspond to the level that can be expected from, for example, three years of advanced mathematics in high school.

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Confusion about the same task can also be seen on the Abitreenit website and on social media, where there have been discussions about the so-called magic square, which refers to the fifth task of the exam.

In the task, the experimenter must solve the numbers x and y and write the year number obtained when the solved numbers are placed in a row. The numbers to be solved are in the magic square. You will find the characteristics of a good answer to the task at the end of this article.

Screenshot from YTL’s website. The magic square task is part B1 of the spring 2023 long mathematics exam, where the examinee can choose three out of five questions.

Social media comments speak for and against the magic square. For example, in the Jodel application popular with young people, the task is described as “ridiculously easy”.

On the other hand, several students say that they considered the magic square to be their favorite task out of all the tasks in the exam. Several have said that they liked the task, because otherwise the exam was perceived as difficult.

Abitrines-site has been amazed at the ease of the task. The students have said that it took them about five minutes to solve the assignment, which is surprisingly little for a student writing assignment. The student who approached Helsingin Sanom also said that he spent about five minutes on the task. He described the task as suspiciously simple.

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Specially the students have highlighted the year that can be solved in the task, which can be solved by solving the numbers of the magic square x and y and put in a row. The numbers to be solved are supposed to reveal the year of completion of the work in question.

The task magic square comes from a German by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) of the artwork. It’s about copper engraving called Melancholy I, which is one of the artist’s most famous works. It is from the work picture in the assignment material.

The sharp-eyed testers have been able to notice in the graduation essays that the year can not only be solved by counting, but also by seeing the right edge of the picture in the material. The year of creation of the work is 1514.

In the discussions, questions have arisen as to whether the examiners have noticed that the year of graduation can be seen in the material. You only got one point for the correct year number in the task, while the total score of the task is 12.

“It seems that the task has been understood by the experimenters and there have been a lot of responses to it.”

YTL’s According to Tähkä, the students have found the fifth question of the long mathematics exam to be straightforward and even easy. At this stage, he does not assess whether the task has been exceptionally easy.

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“It seems that the task has been understood by the experimenters and there have been a lot of responses to it.”

Tähkä does not take a position on whether it is an accident that the year of the work’s production could be seen from the assignment. He emphasizes that it is ultimately a math test, where points are awarded for mathematical calculations.

Tähkä describes how in the first part of the exam, i.e. part A, the examinees have had to show “quite a lot of knowledge”. In the subsequent B1 part, whose first task is a magic square, there is a “new, nice and slightly more comprehensible task for the novice”.

Tähkä describes that in the long mathematics exam there are always some easy tasks and some very demanding tasks, which are used to differentiate the exams. He reminds that students’ levels also vary.

“Experts can be happy if there have been easy tasks for them,” he sums up.

Correction 23.3. at 10:03 p.m.: YTL is the Student Examination Board, not the Student Board, as was erroneously stated earlier in the story.

Screenshot from YTL’s website. Characteristics of a good answer to task five.

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