YESTERDAY morning, the adult lives of 19,000 children were decided by the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination.
In sympathy with those who will not enter a “prestige school” (which, in Trinidad, means one where you see your teacher more often in class than in the club and your classmates do not leave you in a coma when they take your lunch money), I begin my own 51-Plus exam today, doing as much as I can to figure out of the maths section of the last Newsday practice test.
Mathematics. 75 minutes.
Q1. Complete the EXPANDED NOTATION for 61 590: (6 x 10,000) + (1 x _____) + (5 x 100) + (9 x 10) + (0 x 1)? Wow. I’m headed for South East Port of Spain on question-firetrucking-one! WTF is EXPANDED NOTATION? And why couldn’t it be just expanded notation? Oh, wait, this used to be thousands, hundreds, tens and units when I did the 11-Plus, so the answer is “1,000.” Whew. Still a slim chance of BC getting into CIC.
Q2. Express 45 per cent as a FRACTION in its LOWEST TERMS? Paul, yuh mother come; how’s that for low terms? And don’t SEA examiners know that ARBITRARY CAPITALS are the surest sign of illiteracy?
Q6. A pizza is cut into TWELFTHS. How many slices in TOTAL would seven pizzas have? Firetruck off. Everyone knows we buy KFC, no matter how high they raise the price. Q7. In 12 oranges and ten apples, what FRACTION is apples? Another trick question: even dotish children know you can’t add apples and oranges!
Q9. Convert FORTY-FIVE 10c coin pieces to DOLLARS and CENTS. More examiner ignorance: you don’t have to write, “10c coin pieces,” just “10-cent coins;” but the full answer is, “It ent have no cents again, Central Bank take them out like how Rasta City take out Robocop.”
Q15. One orange weighs 900 grammes. Calculate the TOTAL weight of three oranges.
If you needed proof that not even teachers understand the metric system in Trinidad, check the weight of those oranges: nearly two pounds each! How you like them apples? The answer, therefore, must be “grapefruit.”
Q 23. Jerome has a collection of DVDs of which 2/5 are comedies and the rest [are] thrillers. (a) What PERCENT [sic] of the DVDs are comedies? Is this a “language arts” question that jumped the queue? Per cent is two words – though, in SEA mode, I am tempted to say, “Per cent are two words,” or even, “Per cent are two word, boy!” And somebody really should tell Jerome he should be streaming video, not watching DVDs.
Q 28. Jacob has 45 marbles and his brother Matthew has 12 LESS. How many marbles do they have ALTOGETHER? Another trick language arts question but capitalising “LESS” only underlines, as it were, that it should be FEWER; the answer is ALL TWO have ALL THEM MARBLE THEREFORE THE BOTH OF THEM TOGETHER; I’m bound to get some marks for my ALL-CAPS.
Q34. On Friday, Usain ran a distance of 12.4 kilometres and on Saturday he ran TWICE that distance. What TOTAL distance did he run over the two days? Another trick question, but this one has “social studies,” not “language arts” roots: even behind God’ back they know Usain is a sprinter, not a marathoner; the answer is Paula Mae Weekes.
Q 42. A concert hall can seat 360 people. If ¾ of the seats were occupied, how many people were in attendance? All of them, of course. Buh wha’mudder. If the people abandoned their chairs altogether and were JUMPING UP ALL TOGETHER, then the answer would be, “Tomorrow night at David Rudder 6.5 Under the Trees @ the Normandie.
Q 43. Michelle and Paul went to a comic book store advertising a “Buy five get one free” sale. (a) If comics cost $5 each and Michelle received 24 comic books, how many FREE comic books did she receive? The real question is, where the firetruck is Michelle buying a comic that normally costs a bucket of chicken for the price of a doubles; so the answer must be “laundering;”
(b) How much did Michelle pay in TOTAL? She paid $100 but the question would have been much harder if she’d received 25 comics;
(c) If Paul spent $80, how many comics did he PAY for? Ah, so that’s why Paul tagged along like a gangster at a ministerial swearing-in.
That’s enough firetrucking maths. Next week we do language artlessly.
BC Pires is dunce. E-mail your hypercorrections to him at bc@BCPires.com