A major international report has found that UK teenagers are falling behind their global peers when it comes to mathematical achievement.
The UK mathematics curriculum, which has been criticised for being "a mile wide and an inch deep", may be to blame for this.
But it is not only today's youngsters who aren't quite making the mark. According to statistics, most grown-ups can't work out GCSE-level basic math problems. Being out of practise is no excuse - if our educators are doing right by us, then we should learning maths skills for life, not just for the duration of our course!
Maths is a compulsory subject for each and every student in every single country whereby schooling is available. So why do we place value on learning math?
- Maths taught as early as in infancy helps us to develop analytical skills. By this, we don't mean that it teaches us to analyse a report consisting of statistics, what it does is it feeds into our ability to compose and decompose arguments, to problem-solve, and to apply rational thinking. Without analytical thinking, we can't discover and learn about the world.
- Maths enables us to explain how things work. It provides us with the clarity we need to precisely and coherently describe processes in a logical, or even chronological way if talking about a chain of events so that others can understand them.
- Maths promotes advancing knowledge. So many other topics and subjects rely on Maths so mathematical skills promote wisdom in the world but on a personal level they can also promote success in your life. Maths basically makes you smarter, both in terms of intelligence and common sense.
- Maths is a valuable life skill. Having basic mathematical skills can help you at all stages of your life as it is interlinked with our everyday processes.
- Maths is a constant in an ever-changing world. Maths is one of the few scholarly subjects that is completely subjective. Maths cannot be manipulated, it works in the same way everywhere we go even if the methodology varies slightly. in short, you can always rely on Maths. There's no problem in Maths that can't be solved, eventually!
Lessons can be tailored to the student's needs, goals and learning strategies, with math lessons focusing on algebraic equations, geometry, graph transformations, rounding, estimation, notation, polynomial functions, digits, reasoning, calculus, long division, triangles, times tables and order of operations as well as trigonometry, Pythagorean theorem and mental arithmetic.
Fancy yourself as a mathematician? Learning mathematics couldn't be easier. Read our guide to using the Internet to learn maths! But first, can you answer these GCSE level math questions? Test your numerical knowledge now and see if you could do with some extra help from a tutor or lessons on the Internet!
How Good at Maths are you?
Try your hand at these GCSE questions, courtesy of the Evening Standard and past papers. Answers are copied below, but don't peek!
1. Which of these shapes has the most sides?
2. Nadia has £5 to buy pencils and rulers.
Pencils - 8p each
Rulers - 30p each
"I will buy 15 pencils
Then I will buy as many rulers as possible
With my change I will buy more pencils."
How many pencils and how many rulers does she buy?
3. What is 3/2 as a decimal?
4. An exam has two papers.
33 out of 60 on paper 1
75 out of 100 on paper 2
Work out his percentage score for the exam.
5. There are 720 boys and 700 girls in a school.
The probability that a boy chosen at random studies French is 2/3
The probability that a girl chosen at random studies French is 3/5
(a) Work out the number of students in the school who study French.
(b) Work out the probability that a student chosen at random from the whole school does not study French.
6. 3/5 of a number is 162.
Work out the number.
7. Solve the simultaneous equations.
2x + y = 18
x - y = 6
8. To make one cheese sandwich, Gina uses one bread roll and two cheese slices.
- Pack of 15 bread rolls: £1.88
- Pack of 20 cheese slices: £2.15
- She is going to buy enough packs to have exactly twice as many cheese slices as bread rolls.
- Make more than 100 cheese sandwiches.
Work out the least amount she can spend.
Quiz Answers Below
2. 17 pencils, 12 rulers
4. 67.5 or 68
5. (a) 900 (b) 520/1420 or 26/71
7. x = 8 and y = 2
"The questions are taken from the AQA GCSE Mathematics examinations papers for June 2017. The first five are taken from three Foundation papers, while the final [three] are taken from [...] Higher papers."
Liked this challenge? Want to test yourself some more? Why not try out more quizzes online, a fun and free way of learning. Go to the Guardian's website to see if you are smarter than a sixteen-year-old!
Testing oneself is quite fun when you take away the stress of exams and the consequences associated with failing. This is why so many students probably underperform in tests and lose all confidence in their mathematical abilities. If they were given the chance to look through their past paper, we bet they would do so much better the second time around and feel silly about some of the questions they messed up on the day purely because they were nervous. But that is hindsight for you, and not the point of pressurised examinations.
Online Maths Resources
Everyone knows that math is one of the most hated subjects among schoolchildren and adults. Memories of notions too complex to grasp and dull teaching techniques are all too common.
But maths is not all bad.
Maths is important in day-to-day life, present in everything from doing the weekly shop to understanding our surroundings. If you imagine, for example, trying to budget for the food shopping each week or working out what funds you have to spend on holiday, all of these include the use of some basic level of maths, right? Similarly, you might use maths without even consciously realising it, like when you scan the queues in a supermarket to see which one will be the best bet.
Here, you are applying quite complex logical thinking; at once analysing how many items of shopping the customers have in the trolley or basket, how quickly they are unloading or packing their products, and how fast the checkout staff are moving, all in the space of just a few short seconds. It may sound very basic, but that's a lot of thoughts going through the left side of your brain!
However, too many children feel defeated by the subject and quickly give up, risking their chances of fulfilling their potential. A tutor could be the answer in these situations for pupils, who may only need to get to grips with basic maths to be able to catch up in class.
Rekindle Your Love Of Maths
Everyone has their own experiences and opinions on maths, quite often negative.
Whether good or bad, we all know that it can sometimes seem a bit dull. But that shouldn't be the way, nor is it the way!
Particularly in this modern day and age, smart, mathematics-based technology is all around us, and you need a certain level of maths to understand it!
Some of the most interesting jobs that you can do rely heavily on maths: becoming a doctor, nurse, vet, engineer, scientist, software developer, and so on.
Putting a need for maths to one side for a minute though, we must also remember that mathematics isn't just about numbers; adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing them. Maths is also about patterns, too! Therefore, jobs in fashion and design can also benefit from maths skills and actually bring a whole new level of excitement to working with numbers and shapes!
Plus, when we consider maths in general, what could be more fun than solving puzzles?! With brain teasers and games like Sudoku, you can have a blast when learning to use numbers cleverly and creatively. Not to mention the educational fun you can have with Lego... keep reading to find out how playing Lego plays a big part in Maths revision for some!
Maths isn't a passive subject, you need to actively put in the work to get something out of it.
This is why you should never think to yourself, 'I wasn't born good at maths so I never will be'. If you change your mindset, you could unlock many unopened doors in your brain and come to realise that anyone can become a maths genius, in time, if they really try!
You also shouldn't listen to throwaway comments from parents or family members saying 'I've never been good at Maths', as this negative thinking can have an influence on you. Normalised negative attitudes towards Maths have led to four in five adults in the UK reportedly having low numeracy levels.
Come on, being good at maths isn't such an impossible feat and nor is it something to be embarrassed by (could this stigma about 'maths geeks' be something that puts people off even trying, I wonder?)!
While there is evidence to support the common thought that there is a maths gene, scientists say that those with a developed number sense from birth are more likely to be good at maths, not that they are better. Furthermore, more scientists suggest that the biggest obstacle for maths learning is the fear of learning itself! So you need to take a deep breath and just let your brain take you on a journey!
Search for maths tutors near me. But what are the benefits of online maths lessons?
To get the most out of all the available maths resources, take a look at:
- Smartphone apps for maths learning: Using mobile phones to improve math skills can prove incredibly useful since you can take them with you wherever you go. Squeeze in some maths practice on the bus, on holiday, in bed, or while you're eating breakfast!
- Apps and features on an interactive tablet: Somewhere between a computer and a smartphone, the tablet is portable yet big enough to get the full experience. Tablets allow learners to move away from pens and paper and practice their geometry and graphing with their fingers.
- Practising maths on a computer: Although laptops and PCs tend to be a bit more on the bulky side, they can support a wider, more advanced range of software for learning.
- Video tutorials: Some tutors offer one off or regular sessions by webcam to help you along in the subject.
You may be thinking to yourself right now, "as if!" But, no matter how bad your relationship with maths has become, the key to turning this around is putting in a little bit of work. You can stare at that page in your textbook all day if you like but if you haven't grasped the process you need to undertake or why you are solving the problem, then you aren't likely to move forward.
As you can see, our suggestions aren't even anything to whine to your friends or cry to your parents about! The fact that you can learn whilst playing games and activities on your mobile phone (which you probably already spend a good amount of time doing!) means that you can essentially improve your Maths skills without a boring learning experience. But, while you can learn some things with minimal effort, some of the trickier problems will need your undivided attention and commitment.
It's not just to please your tutor or your parents, it's about opening up new opportunities for your future.
Find Online Tuition for Maths on Superprof!
Okay, so we may be biased but Superprof is an excellent place to find qualified Maths professionals who teach pupils not just face to face, but over the Internet too.
By browsing their list of registered Maths tutors, of which there are thousands across the UK, you can decide who is able to offer you the best help in the form of your homework help, revision or just general guidance on a particular topic. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to explain a complex methodology in a different way for it to sink in.
Private tutors, like those on Superprof, can cost you as little as £10.00 (don't forget, they have no overheads as they can teach you from wherever they are) and some specialise in specific areas of Maths. Local tutors who travel to yours or vice versa may cost slightly more to make up for their time. As such, remember that the cost does not always reflect the person's experience and qualifications but, that said, you do get what you pay for so don't be reluctant to pay for a good tutor and then complain that you haven't learned what you had wanted to!
There are close to 60,000 tutors listed online who can help you in person, electronically or via video call with your maths concerns. Some are mathematicians, some are qualified teachers, whilst others are individuals who are talented with numbers and want to pass on their knowledge and skills. One thing you can be sure of, though, is that Superprof vets all of its tutors so you can rest assured that the person whose expertise you are paying for is completely genuine.
Be sure to read about your prospective tutor and take advantage of the one free lesson policy so that you can get a feel for their teaching methods and work out if you think you will get along in a professional student-teacher manner. It is important to have a good relationship with your tutor so that you look forward to your lessons with positivity instead of dreading each time you come into contact.
The Best Websites for Practising Math Online
Parents often feel unable to help their children when it comes to abstract maths concepts in the school curriculum. After all, we've already discovered that many adults can barely do basic maths themselves.
This problem can be overcome with the help of the World Wide Web which is full of math resources and opportunities to get maths help. For example, why not turn to private tutoring for homework help and academic support?
Take a look at our article on interactive math learning.
Here are our top 3 free maths websites:
1. BBC Bitesize Maths
Aimed at everyone from year 1 maths students to those who study maths at GCSE level, BBC Bitesize is full of supportive maths resources for every curriculum across the UK in the respective language of each country.
With its step-by-step learner guides and video tutorials, BBC Maths is the perfect tool whether you're preparing for exams or wanting to keep up in class.
What's great about this resource is that parents, teachers and students alike can feel reassured that the content is totally relevant to a course. Even though it's not necessarily a bad thing to go off on a tangent and learn something interesting that isn't included on your curriculum, it could also be a waste of precious time for those students who need all the help they can get.
This website makes learning and planning to learn, easy as it sets out all of the topics in easy-to-digest chunks. This means that, if you want to look at setting up a revision programme for the academic year or for the weeks preceding your child's exam, you can look at the topics and sub-topics and work out a clear and logical system.
So brush up on your addition and subtraction skills or learn the multiplication table. There are plenty of opportunities to test out your new skills with maths quiz questions on the website to see how you're improving.
2. Mr Barton Maths
Mr Barton is a maths teacher with a website and one simple aim: to get people to see the fun side of maths with his math tutorials.
As a certified teacher and educator, he understands the need for children to enjoy themselves to get the most out of their education.
"Almost 10 years after it started, the aim of this website remains the same: to get everybody enjoying their maths a bit more"
The website is full of resources for year 6 SATs all the way up to college level maths. You'll find a range of topics from fractions and decimals to ratio, algebra, quadratic expressions, inequalities and formulae.
We don't need research to know that enjoying yourself makes you learn more, better and faster. But, scientists have proven that children respond better to activities when they are entertained and having fun. This is the same for adults, too.
As an older student, learning something new can be an exciting prospect but, let's face it, a maths lesson is rarely seen as something fun to do.
Research shows that fun has a positive effect on how much we learn and retain, based on the fact that we are more motivated when we are interested. But one single entertaining class isn't enough to keep us dedicated, we need to be kept constantly curious and wanting to learn more.
Unfortunately for some, this comes down to how effective at teaching your educator is. Thankfully though, if your teacher isn't inspiring you to study and to succeed in math, then Mr Barton will do!
In true teaching spirit, there is a section dedicated to maths jokes and puns - what's not to like?
Test your knowledge with fun activities like maths puzzles and have a read of the blog. Mr Barton even has his own podcast!
3. Math Playground
Plain and simple, Math Playground is an online maths games website aimed at children aged 6-11 years old.
Here you will find math games online to learn and test our your maths skills whilst having fun! Taking academic subjects such as maths out of the context of the education system can be just what children need to regain their motivation.
Adding this enjoyable aspect to learning about mathematical processes can help you to think outside of the bubble that so many people see surrounding the subject, and encourage you to relate to it in a more personal way. With no pressure about being tested or graded, you can freely explore the boundaries of maths instead of restricting yourself for fear of veering away from the correct answer and getting it wrong. Of course, in maths, there is a wrong answer to be found but that shouldn't stop you from really thinking about and understanding the methodology.
Plus, playing games that involve maths encourages problem-solving, strategic thinking, and develops fluency with numbers. Also, given the chance to apply maths concepts to things you are interested in means that you can actually talk over maths problems with friends! It's a win-win.
Learn Maths Online With These Websites
For a quick overview on the free websites that will most benefit you in your Maths education, see below.
|BBC Bitesize Maths||Learner guides, video tutorials||GCSE|
|Mr Barton Maths||Tutorials, games, jokes and puns||SATs through to A Level|
|Math Playground||Games||Ages 6-11|
Maths Exercises & Worksheets to Help You Learn From Home
Looking for ways to practice your maths?
Surprisingly, most maths resources and revision tools exist in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets.
Whether you're looking for more maths revision games for kids to play on-the-go or easier ways to revise for an upcoming maths exam, there's a maths app for everyone - and most of them are free!
Here are just a few of our favourites:
Sushi Monster is a game based around improving mental maths. Players have to feed to correct plate of sushi to the monster to make the number it is asking for.
This game can be played in addition mode or multiplication mode, and whilst it is aimed and young schoolchildren, Sushi Monster is fun math for all ages.
The app not only teaches quick addition and multiplication skills, but difficulty increases as children move through the levels. This makes for improved multiplication and division as well as subtraction skills in school.
Find it for free on the iOS App Store and put your mental arithmetic to the test!
Montessori is a range of maths apps aimed at children aged 4 and over.
Each app is dedicated to a different topic: one for counting, one for basic operations, one for geometry, and so on.
Just like in Sushi Monster, maths is learned and practised through playing games which engage children and can be played anywhere.
There are seven apps in total which can be downloaded for £3.99 each or £19.99 in a bundle.
Gojimo is an app specifically designed to help those preparing for all kinds of exams.
Catering for those sitting school entrance exams, following A level and maths revision GCSE courses, our favourite feature of this wonderful free app is its progress tracker, which lets you see just how far you've come!
Gojimo provides exam-board specific material to help you get to know just what each company is looking for on the day. Study for Edexcel GCSE maths or AQA A Level maths, and even use Gojimo for your other school subjects!
This handy app is perfect for learning effectively and on-the-go - so give it a try!
Learn Maths Online Free
There seems to be a lot of options when it comes to learning subjects such as maths, English, French and Biology online, however, the vast majority of them cost money.
Having to pay for online maths tuition and resources can put a lot of people off pursuing their academic interests.
But here at Superprof, we aim to give you the motivation to find the best solution for you!
So here are three websites which offer video lessons in maths.
And they're 100% free to use!
UK Maths Teacher
Ukmathsteacher provides entire lessons dedicated to specific subjects and qualifications.
The Youtube channel has over 1000 maths videos to talk you through GCSE and A Level maths questions which support many exam boards including Edexcel, AQA, MEI, OCR, and WJEC - perfect for exam revision!
Just like 'ukmathsteacher', Syed Institute provides its tutorials on Youtube.
This channel provides lessons on certain math concepts as well as solutions to entire maths test papers, with videos sorted into playlist depending on what you're looking for.
"A free education is a better education"
So if you've just finished some Edexcel maths past papers and want to see where you went wrong, this is the channel for you!
Hegarty Maths is another Youtube channel dedicated to helping people with their maths.
Content is aimed at KS3 maths, GCSE, and A Level students, and is sorted into handy playlists (such as proportion, quadratics, probability and linear equations) so you can easily find the topic you want to work on.
At Superprof, we understand that no two learners are the same.
Some people learn through reading, some by visualising, and some people learn through what they hear.
That's why we've made a list of maths podcasts aimed at teaching, understanding, and enjoying maths to the full.
And like all the best things in life, these podcasts are free!
BBC School Radio
BBC School Radio provides downloadable podcasts to help children aged 3-11 with their mental maths and problem-solving skills.
Each episode is around 15 minutes long and focuses on a different topic, aiming to make maths exciting and entertaining for KS1 and KS2 maths students.
For younger learners, there are number songs, and for the older ones, there are audio maths quizzes to test their knowledge.
An interactive way of learning in the form of a podcast, Maths-It takes advantage of new technology by providing support in a downloadable MP3 file.
So how does it work?
Each audio is listed alongside a downloadable maths worksheet, which the learner should attempt before listening to the podcast. The podcast has the correct solutions to each of the maths problems, and can, therefore, be useful for revision.
There are worksheets for GCSE Higher Maths, AS and A Level maths students.
Taking Maths Further
Taking Maths Further is a series from the Further Mathematics Support Programme and is made up of 20 episodes aimed at helping A Level Maths and Further Maths students understand the applications of what they are learning.
However, this series can also be incredibly interesting for those who are not studying for A Level qualifications and just want to learn a bit more about math!
"Each podcast has an associated puzzle and further reading designed to stimulate students’ interest in mathematics outside of the curriculum"
Episodes feature an interview with someone working in the field of mathematics and involve listeners with puzzles and a reading list to accompany the podcast.
The Math Dude: Quick and Dirty Tips
This podcast is not just aimed at school and college pupils, but at anyone who wants to improve their understanding of maths.
The Math Dude aims to "make math easier and more fun than you ever thought possible", explaining maths terms and spilling the beans on finding the correct answer as quickly as possible.
More or Less: Behind the Stats
This series from BBC Radio 4 looks at the applications of probability and math for every day and delves deeper into the statistics floating around in the news.
Focusing on everything from fact-checking political manifestos to exploring changes in the average weight of newborns, More or Less provides statistical analysis of current topics, making for some interesting listening!
So if you're interested in the maths behind our daily lives, you'll probably enjoy this podcast!
Now, with all of this information to guide you, will you approach your maths revision with a little bit more confidence and vigour?
If you or your child have the attention span of a fish, then why not think about instilling that love for maths with some popular Hollywood films linked to the field in some way?
The 2008 film '21', for example, is based on a true story which was told in the book 'Bringing Down The House'. It's a story about a group of students that needs to find a way to pay for their college tuition and creates a statistics-based scheme in order to win at Black Jack. The gambling film involves them breaking a Las Vegas casino. Even though it ends in trouble, it shows the power and possibility that maths offers and makes brushing up on those numbers seem pretty cool.
'Pi', similarly, tells the story of a mathematician but, in this 1998 release, the focus is on finding out truths about humanity. The film has excitement and evil, but is overall a good film and highlights the huge part that maths plays in our world.
'The Imitation Game', meanwhile, is a more recent release featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock Holmes) and is based on the story of an MI6 computer scientist and mathematician, Alan Turing, during World War II. It's all about deciphering seemingly unbreakable Nazi codes and the breakthroughs that this important figure was involved in.
Finally, everyone has heard of 'Good Will Hunting', with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as the stars of the film. An Oscar-winning performance from the pair, it tells the story of Will Hunting, the janitor of MIT who is a genius at solving maths problems and finds his life purpose with the help of Sean, a psychologist. It rose to fame in 1997 but is still a classic film watched by people of all ages.
Finally, Why Is Maths So Important?
Things that you wouldn't expect to bear any relation to Maths do in fact come down to an underlying need for mathematics and the structure it brings to our everyday lives not to mention the creativity.
Take shopping, cooking, buying a property, doing DIY, traveling, gambling, playing video games, driving and telling the time, for instance... none of these would be possible without the existence of Mathematics. Maths actually enables us to use our creativity to new heights!
Furthermore, Maths everywhere when you consider the educational and professional worlds.
Maths is relevant to a wide variety of academic subjects on the GCSE course and A Level curriculum, which not only means that a poor understanding of maths can cause students to struggle in many other subjects but also that it could limit their further studies options as well as their employability when they come to think about career options.
Whether you aspire to study sociology, psychology, physics, biology or even economics, maths is held in high regard, and you will be called on solve various maths problems, as part of your work.
To learn maths is to open up a world of opportunity... and fun!