# Regents Recap — June, 2017: Three Students Solve a Math Problem

I will never understand why so many exam questions are written like this (question 5 from the June, 2017 Algebra exam):

What is the purpose of the artificial context? Why must the question be framed as though three people are comparing their answers? Why not just write a *math question*?This question not only addresses the same mathematical content, it makes the mathematics the explicit focus. This would seem to be a desirable quality in a mathematical assessment item.

Instead of wasting time concocting absurd scenarios for these problems, let’s focus on making sure the questions that end up on these exams are mathematically correct.

**Related Posts**

- Regents Recaps
- Not Even Psuedo-Context
- Regents Recap — January 2016: No It Wasn’t
- g = 4, and Other Lies the Test Told Me

## 1 Comment

## Josh Britton · September 2, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Hey, Mr. Honner, I really appreciate you calling this out! Part of my profession is to write software that dynamically generates practice questions that support teachers’ needs. I HATE the fact that in order to mimic texts and tests, I need to gussy up straightforward problems with artificial stories. I can’t ignore this nonsense and cut to mathematical chase because teachers need their students geared up to survive high stakes tests. Ick! All of us trapped and sullied.

Josh Britton