Maths - Sum problems with answers

7th January 2011 at 00:00

Failure to show essential working is costing Higher maths candidates marks, examiners have warned.

"It is clear, from workings given, that some candidates are annotating diagrams on the question paper and not copying these to the answer booklet, and so essential working is missing from their solutions," says this year's external assessment report.

Teachers also need to give their pupils more practise at "proving" the formula in optimisation questions, while in integration questions candidates should ensure they use the correct notation.

Pupils aiming for an A or B pass at Higher should be exposed more frequently to non-routine problems.

Section A of Paper 1 - objective-type questions - do not incur penalties for wrong answers, so candidates should not leave any of them blank.

At Intermediate 2 level, some candidates had problems with negative numbers, eg, in calculating the gradient of a straight line or in adding or subtracting the equations when dealing with simultaneous equations.

The arithmetic calculations in Paper 1 also proved challenging for many candidates. Teachers are advised to look for more opportunities for pupils to practise without the use of a calculator.

Pupils tend to perform poorly in topics covered early in the Intermediate 1 course, said examiners. Teachers should revisit areas such as finding the mean from a frequency table, and distance, speed and time calculations involving fractions of an hour, to improve retention of these skills.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today