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Opening Arguments

Do the math

Hey, kids, better polish up those math skills, or at least dust off the calculators:

Purdue University's recent announcement that incoming Boilermakers will need a fourth year of high school math will raise the minimum bar for admission to the highest in the Big Ten conference.

[. . .]

Indiana University will also increase its math requirement for 2011 to the second highest in the Big Ten, behind Purdue.

Two reactions: 1. This is a good move; the more involved the government becomes in our lives, the better people need to understand basic math. 2. I'm very glad it wasn't done when I was a student.

It's not that I was that bad at math; I just didn't care for it much. And my math skills, limited as they are to the high school basics, are pretty good compared with those of most journalists. They can handle simple percentages (many of them can, anyway), but hoping they will know the difference between variables and constants is a risky bet, and moving beyond averages means and medians is getting into really deep water. I'm one of those oddballs who carry around pocket calculators, so be careful if you challenge me to a percent-off (yes, yes, I know, I'm a lot more than a percent off).

If you want to test your skills, take this simple test. Unless you're a journalist, you should get most of them right.

Posted in: Hoosier lore