Finance Minister Bill English's face dropped when Newshub gave him a copy of the NZQA Level 1 maths exam which left students in tears last week because of its difficulty.
He was one of many MPs who went into a state of fear or just bluffed their way out of it when confronted by the algebraic conundrum.
"Over the years, having looked at a lot of students' exams in New Zealand through my own kids, I'd be careful about putting myself to the test under media scrutiny," said Mr English.
"Treasury has a lot of people who are good at algebra."
Defence Minister and former woodwork teacher Gerry Brownlee didn't even stop to consider the exam question, rushing into caucus as if there was some leadership coup going on.
"Lloyd, if you couldn't do it, what hope do I have," the minister said.
Surprisingly, Commerce Minister Paul Goldsmith attempted one of the questions, and after 10 seconds of looking at it, quipped "I think A equals three."
Impressive. And quick. But wrong.
Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins believed he could solve the equation but, like Mr Brownlee, was in a rush to caucus.
"I'm not going to sit down and do it now because I'm late to caucus and I'd be in trouble," said Mr Hipkins.
"I'm certainly not going to try complex algebra equations off the top of my head. I could probably sit down and do it."
Not long afterwards, a Labour party spin doctor rang Newshub with the answer: "A = B + 9," he exclaimed, citing the workings of a Labour Party researcher.
For the record, here is the question: