This Fifth Grade Math Problem Is Stumping Everybody — Can You Solve It?

fifth grade math problem

Here at DYR, we love testing your knowledge (and our own) with math questions that we probably could’ve aced in fifth grade. This one is another one that will prove if you are, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader! This math problem is stumping everyone on the Internet right now. Maybe you could solve it!

The math equation is “9 – 3 ÷ 1/3 + 1 = ?” and the best way to solve it is by using the mnemonic device PEMDAS. This also stands for “parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction” or the order of operations! However, there’s a twist to this one (audible groan). Many people have landed on 9 as the answer, but this is not correct.


math problem
Math problem / AWM

So, what is the answer? The answer is 1. How do you get this answer? TipHero explains how to get this answer.

“What you want to do here is start over by tackling 3 ÷ 1/3 first, and no, you’re not supposed to multiply here. Divide! Hint: 3 divided by 1/3 is actually 9. Take it from there. Using a calculator, it’s likely that it will read that relationship between 3 and 1/3 as a funky way to arrive at 1 before working out the rest of the equation. If you did that too, we understand how you arrived at your final answer.”


math problems
Math problems on chalkboard / Pixabay

Reader’s Digest also adds, “Now, the PEMDAS rules call for you to solve all addition and subtraction problems in the order they appear. So instead of adding first, you will solve the equation from left to right.”

“If you still need a visual explanation of how to solve the problem, check out the video [not included], which pulls the division component from the middle, showing how to solve 3 ÷ 1/3, which becomes 3/1 ÷ 1/3, which equals 9. Once you’ve solved that, you can move from left to right with the operations: 9-9+1. 9-9 is 0, add that to 1 and your answer is 1.”

math on a calculator
Doing math on a calculator / pxhere

Now, if you’re like me and were never good at math in school, this is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to you. However, try your best and see if you can come out with 1 as the answer! One person commented something surprising that might either confuse you or help you.

“It’s simple… FRACTIONS. Division is invert. Cancel and multiply… this is done before any subtracting… so, take the middle… 3/1 divide by 1/3. this is the same a 3/1 X 3/1 which is 9. Now put this back into the equation… 9-9+1 = 1. Simple… if you remember your fractions.”

confused dog
Head tilt dog / Giphy

Can you solve this math problem? Please SHARE this with your friends and family and find out if they can solve it, too!

Check out the video below on one of the hardest SAT math problems ever:

What do you think?


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