Some things i learnt from wanting to ask

I was setting a math paper when i came up with this question:

Leo was trying to sell off his comic collection. 4 people made offers to him:

Alan : I will buy 3/4 of your collection for $3000
Bob   : I will buy 7/8 of your collection for $2000
Cody : I will buy ½ of your collection for $2000
Dan   : I will buy 2/6 of your collection for $1000

I decided to take it out of the paper because:

  1. i didn’t know what to ask; this was a multiple choice, ‘not so easy but not so difficult’ question and i just couldn’t figure out what to ask!
  2. there are so many ways of looking at this, too many variables, that i think it is more suited for a discussion than a test paper

For instance:

I could ask, ‘Which customer made the best offer?’

To which you could say either Alan or Cody. Alan was offering the most money out of only 4 offers. Who’s to say Leo would get any more offers afterwards? And what if he doesn’t wanna wait, and ends up getting rid of the unsold comics?

Then again with Cody’s offer he’ll still be left with half his collection, and the possibility of a second buyer later.

I could ask who was paying the most per comic, but what’s the point of that really. Doing the math like that doesn’t really get us anything all that useful.

If i asked which was the worst offer then obviously it would be Dan but anyone can arrive at that answer without much thinking, so it doesn’t qualify as a suitable question.

Are there any other interesting angles to this? Would you have phrased the story differently?


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