The Second-Grade Math Problem No One Can Figure Out

Time to dust off those math textbooks!

Math problem illustrationPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo/

Can You Solve This Math Problem?

Mathematicians, are you ready? This second-grade math problem is a doozy—and it seems like no one can figure it out. (Nerds will love these hilarious math jokes!)

Angie Werner, the mother of a second-grader named Ayla, was left scratching her head after reading her daughter’s math homework on Jan. 24, according to Werner was so stumped she posted a photo of the question in a Facebook group called Breastfeeding Mama Talk to get other mothers’ insights—and unsurprisingly, they were pretty confused, too.

The question is: “There are 49 dogs signed up to compete in the dog show. There are 36 more small dogs than large dogs signed up to compete. How many small dogs are signed up to compete?”

To break it down, if there are 49 dogs total, and there are 36 more small dogs than large dogs, you’d subtract 36 from 49. By that measure, there are 13 large dogs and 36 small dogs… so that means the answer is 36 small dogs, right? Is that a trick question? Apparently not.

The real answer is 42.5. Yes, 42 and a half dogs. Yet somehow, even with the correct answer, we’re still scratching our heads. A half dog? Yes—here’s why: 49 minus 39 is 13. Thirteen divided by two is six and a half. So, 36 plus six and a half equals 42.5.

“Angie gave POPSUGAR an update after hearing back from the teacher, writing: ‘The district worded it wrong. The answer would be 42.5, though, if done at an age-appropriate grade,'” according to

So it has officially been confirmed: a half dog did, in fact, compete in this dog show. Did you get the answer right your first try?

If your goal is to become smarter, consider these three brainy strategies!

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