Are You Smarter Than A 15-Year-Old?

May 14, 2015

“How well do today’s schools prepare for tomorrow’s world?”

That’s the question in a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. This group administers the Program for International Student Assessment to 15-year-olds in 75 countries. The goal is to find out if they can use their math and science knowledge to answer a series of questions that measure skills needed for young people to make a contribution to the economy.

The results from the latest round of testing, released this week, show that students struggle across the board — in rich and well-educated countries, in countries that are poor and where it can be difficult for youth to get a good education. For example, 89 percent of the test takers in Ghana didn’t achieve proficiency — and 24 percent of Americans failed, as well.

If you would like to test your own skill set, here are three sample questions:

Problem Solving: Traffic

Here’s a map of a system of roads that links the suburbs within a city. The map shows the travel time in minutes at 7:00 a.m. on each section of road.

Question: Julio lives in Silver, Maria lives in Lincoln and Don lives in Nobel. They want to meet in a suburb on the map. No one wants to travel for more than 15 minutes. Where could they meet?

Mathematics: Charts

In January, the new CDs of the bands 4U2Rock and The Kicking Kangaroos were released. In February, the CDs of the bands No One’s Darling and The Metalfolkies followed. The following graph shows the sales of the bands’ CDs from January to June.

Question: In which month did the band No One’s Darling sell more CDs than the band The Kicking Kangaroos for the first time?

A) No month

B) March

C) April

D) May

Financial Literacy: Shares

Question: Which statements about the graph are true:

The best month to buy the shares was September: True or false?

The share priced increased by about 50 percent over the year: True of false?

Answers: Park or Silver; April; first statement is true, second is false

For more questions, take a look at the sample test.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.