Down here in NZ students have just recently sat a horrible algebra paper. It appears that the examination authority didn't tell the teachers that changes were going to occur in the algebra exam so the teachers taught to what previous exams had asked for. And all hell has broken loose.

So the attached graphic is a question that occurred in the exam.

I can do most of the paper (with a little bit of revision if I dig out the books) but the question above does not make sense to me.

So what do fellow experts make of it? If anyone wants the full paper I can supply links.

This is an absolutely horrible question because the answer depends on the arbitrary choice of the new order.

There are 24 possible orderings.

Swapping (1 and 7) or (3 and 5) or both give the same answer by symmetry.

In this particular case, swapping (1 and 3) does too.

So by chance some students get to the second part, find confirmation, and sail on.

The others find contradiction and perhaps stumble.

Life is not fair, but exams should really try harder.

How is it possible that NZ hasn't discovered the joys of Standardized Multiple Choice Exams?