Math Problem “Stumping Internet” Is A Hoax, So Here Is The Real One


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor

Pffft. ImageFlow/Shutterstock

In a story for the ages, a math problem “stumping” the Internet turns out to not actually be a math problem but a doctored hoax by Internet jokers, only for a UK newspaper to reveal the actual math problem, which is stumping the Internet.

Confused? Just wait until you get to the actual math problem.


Let’s start at the beginning. A math problem apparently aimed at Primary 1 – first graders, or 7-year-olds – was posted on a tech forum in Singapore with the caption “Can you solve this Pr 1 bonus question?” (disclaimer, we added the grammar), with this photo of a supposed exam sheet.

The viral puzzle confounding Internet peeps. Almond Shell/

The problem, however, doesn’t have any proper instructions so it ended up going viral, mainly due to the Internet’s frustration at failing to solve what is meant to be a puzzle for kids.

The Guardian has since revealed it to be a fake, pointing out that aside from the fact that the image looks doctored and there are no instructions, it looks remarkably similar to a puzzle featured on a maths puzzle website run by retired teacher Gordon Burgin, but the ‘0’ was removed from the bottom left-hand quarter.  

“I am a little bemused by the hoax as I’m not sure what they intended to get out of it,” said Burgin. “If discussion and frustration was the intention I guess they succeeded!”


They were not the only ones to smell a rat. According to Mashable, Singapore's Ministry of Education told them that there are no exams for Primary 1 students anyway.

So, aside from the question of why anyone would bother doing all this, here is the actual puzzle.

The real McCoy. Illustration by Gordon Burgin

Still confused? Burgin’s original question helps.

In each of the four sectors of the outer circle, there is a two-digit number, which is equal to the sum of the three numbers at the corners of its sector. The numbers in the individual circles can only be 1 to 9 and each number can be used only once. One number has been provided to get you started. Find the remaining four numbers.


As for the solution?

Here it is:

Clockwise from top: 6, 1, 8, 9 


Burgin helpfully provided the answer. Gordon Burgin

[H/T: The Guardian]


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