PISA 2012 problem-solving answer to question level 4 (tickets)




The CORRECT answer involves attempts to purchase a concession ticket with 2 individual trips for the city subway AND purchasing EITHER one of the following tickets:

  • City Subway/Full fare/Individual with 1 trip.
  • City Subway/Full fare/Individual with 2 trips.



At Level 4, students can explore a moderately complex problem scenario in a focused way. They grasp the links among the components of the scenario that are required to solve the problem. They can control moderately complex digital devices, such as unfamiliar vending machines or home appliances, but they don't always do so efficiently. These students can plan a few steps ahead and monitor the progress of their plans. They are usually able to adjust these plans or reformulate a goal in light of feedback. They can systematically try out different possibilities and check whether multiple conditions have been satisfied. They can form an hypothesis about why a system is malfunctioning, and describe how to test it.



Execute a plan for working around an unexpected impasse: a malfunction of the ticket machine that is only discovered after multiple steps. The student wants to buy subway tickets at the ticket machine and is eligible to concession fares, but when concession fares are selected, the machine says that “there are no tickets of this type available”. The student instead buys a full fare ticket for the subway.

The problem is interactive i.e. not all information is disclosed at the outset and some information has to be uncovered by exploring the problem situation. The setting is technology because the problem involves a technological device and the focus is social because the problem involves the the community or society in general.



The process is monitoring and reflecting because it  involves monitoring progress towards the goal at each stage, including checking intermediate and final results, detecting unexpected events, and taking remedial action when required; and reflecting on solutions from different perspectives, critically evaluating assumptions and alternative solutions, identifying the need for additional information or clarification and communicating progress in a suitable manner.


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