Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to play "Are you smarter than a 5th Grader"

I have been watching this program for quite some time now and besides learning some cool basic stuff (e.g., How many states are in Mexico? I had guessed 6... but the answer is 31!!!!) I found that none of the participants played the game "strategically". My guess is if they had, their winnings would have been higher.

Let me first explain how the game show works: There are 8 questions in total, each belonging to a different subject and there are 2 questions for each grade.. see above image.

Payout is proportional to the grade level i.e.,

Each 1st grade question gives $500
Each 2nd grade question gives $1000
Each 3rd grade question gives $3500
Each 4th grade question gives $7500

Since there are 2 questions for each grade, possible winnings are $25,000 (2*(500+1000+3500+7500)).

A contestant has to answer all the questions; he/she can only choose the order of answering questions. If a contestant fails to answer any question correctly then all amount earned till that point is forfeited. And here's where a contestant needs to be smart in choosing the "right" order for picking questions.

Most of the contestants start with 1st grade questions (most easy ones) possibly to experience a good start. But strategically speaking, they should start with the hardest question (i.e. 4th grade question) FIRST so that even if they miss it, they do not lose any money they may have earned till that point had they picked the 4th grade question later. Also, since there are 2 questions for each grade, within a grade, the contestant is better off choosing the hardest subject first. With this order, I think a candidate will end up earning more (of course above logic assumes that the candidate is more likely to correctly answer lower grade questions correctly than

What do you think?

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