ExplanationThe normal distribution is symmetrical around the mean. For any symmetrical distribution, the mean equals the median (also known as the 50th percentile). Thus, the number of students who scored less than 3 points above the mean (77 + 3 = 80) must be the same as the number of students who scored greater than 3 points below the mean (77 – 3 = 74). As long as the boundary scores (80 and 74) are placed symmetrically around the mean, the distribution will have equal proportions. Draw the normal distribution plot if it is at all confusing:

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Notice that the two conditions overlap and are perfectly symmetrical. Each number consists of a short segment between it and the 50th percentile mark, as well as half of the students (either above or below the 50th percentile mark).

That is, the “less than 80” category consists of the segment between 80 and 77, as well as all students below the 50th percentile mark (below 77). The “greater than 74” category consists of the segment between 74 and 77, as well as all students above the 50th percentile mark (above 77). Therefore, the quantities are equal.

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Sandy

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