Usage and Grammar

Q. My daughter is filling out a college application that tells her to “write a brief answer (150 words or less) to both of the following questions.” The two questions are unrelated. We’re wondering whether to read that as “write 150 or less on each of the questions” or “write 150 words or less on both questions together.”

A. If the wording were each instead of both, the meaning would be clear, but strictly interpreted, the application asks for a single answer that covers both questions. Given that the questions are unrelated, however, I think the intended meaning is that you should answer both questions, using up to 150 words for each. (That is, your daughter should. I’m sure that’s what you meant.)