The improvement of mathematical literacy level remains one of the fundamental problems of primary education in Turkey. In that case there is need to know students' difficulties at solving mathematical literacy problems. This study reveals the difficulties encountered by Turkish students when solving mathematical literacy problems through the factors formed based on the structural characteristics of the questions addressed. A total of 435 middle school students (8th grade) were asked mathematical literacy questions. The data obtained from student responses were subjected to factor analysis. A six-factor structure was obtained at the end of the analysis. The obtained factors were found to have adequate variance in explaining mathematical literacy. These factors were named as making algorithmic operations, mastering rich mathematical content, mathematical inference, developing mathematical proposals and interpreting a developed proposal, understanding the mathematical equivalence of real world situations, and understanding the counterpart of mathematical language in life. The students failed in the factors of mathematical inference, developing mathematical proposals and interpreting a developed proposal, and understanding the mathematical equivalence of real world situations. The results of this study can be guiding for analyzing mathematical literacy achievement, developing a mathematical literacy scale, developing mathematics curricula, and organizing its instruction.