‘2 Plus 5 Equals 12’: Confusing Facebook Puzzle Actually Has Two Different Solutions

2 +5 = 12? A viral Facebook puzzle seems to have people trying to figure out how that equation is even accurate!

Basic arithmetic will lead even the average grade school student to concluding that the answer should be 10 instead of 12. However, a confusing math puzzle that is making waves on Facebook states otherwise.

That is because “2 + 5 = 12” is just one small part of the overall puzzle — one of four parts, to be exact.


The Facebook puzzle outlines four separate math equations, giving solutions to only three of them.

“1 + 4 = 5

2 + 5 = 12

3 + 6 = 21

8 + 11 =?”

When it come to basic arithmetic, the only equation that is accurate is the first one because the sum of one and four is five. However, this confusing Facebook puzzle is primarily focused on finding the solution for the fourth equation based on the information provided in the first three.

Were you able to figure it out on your own?

Many people that did find an answer seemed to reach the same one — 96. However, there is also a second solution to this Facebook math puzzle which is apparently accurate as well.

The Most Popular Solution: 96

According to Brain Dare, the solution to this confusing Facebook puzzle is “96.”

@lifemathsnerd mmm what do you think the answer is?? I got 96. pic.twitter.com/WrAbUZbhyr

— Lugia (@LegendaryLugia8) April 26, 2016

In order to reach that solution, you must reflect on your math knowledge of one concept: multiplication.

Each of the provided equations alone (with the exception of the first one) do not make sense mathematically. However, if you apply a little bit of multiplication to each equation, the solutions will start to line up and make a little more sense.

  1. Multiply the first number by the second number.
  2. Add the product of those two numbers to the first number.
  3. Review your outcome for your solution.

To simplify these steps, it’s easier to set up the multiplied numbers in a set of parentheses by themselves — separated from the first number. At that point, you can follow the order of operations by solving what’s inside of the parentheses first before adding the first number to the product. If you follow these steps correctly, you should get “96” for the final equation.

1 + (1 x 4) or 1 + 4 = 5

2 + (2 x 5) or 2 + 10 = 12

3 + (3 x 6) or 3 + 18 = 21

8 + (8 x 11) or 8 + 88 = 96

A Second Solution

When solving this confusing Facebook puzzle, there is apparently a second approach that you can take in order to reach a completely different solution. This alternative approach doesn’t require you to use multiplication at all. It simply adds the solution of each given equation to the next equation listed beneath it.

1 + 4 = 5

2 + 5 + 5 = 12

3 + 6 + 12 = 21

8 + 11 + 21 = 40

Some people that commented on the Brain Dare post of this confusing Facebook puzzle stated that the solution is “40” simply because of the puzzle does not require you to use multiplication. If the multiplication aspect was a required instruction, then the popular solution of “96” would be correct in their opinion. Since it does not, however, the argument is that “40” is the actual answer since it uses the same operation that the other equations use: addition.

However, as most people will agree, there are always multiple viewpoints, approaches, and steps that can be taken to solve the average Facebook puzzle. If there was one particular way to do it, perhaps it would not be as difficult to solve in the first place.

You might believe that the solution for this confusing Facebook puzzle is “96.” On the other hand, you may think that it’s “40.” Either way, the fact that you spent time trying to work through the puzzle at all may benefit you more than you realize. According to NPR, “solving puzzles satisfies the nimble brain.” Perhaps that is why Facebook puzzles — like this confusing puzzle that claimed 2 + 5= 12 — are so popular on social media.

[Image via Shutterstock]