Everyday maths 2
Everyday maths 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1 Four operations

You will already be using the four operations in your daily life (whether you realise it or not). Everyday life requires you to carry out maths all the time; checking you’ve been given the correct change, working out how many packs of cakes you need for the children’s birthday party and splitting the bill in a restaurant are all examples that come to mind.

Described image
Figure 1 Fruit maths puzzle

The four operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. As Functional Skills exam papers allow the use of a calculator throughout, you do not need to be able to work out these calculations by hand but you do need to understand what each operation does and when to use it. At level 2, you will often be required to use more than one operation to answer a question.

  • Addition (+)
    • This operation is used when you want to find the total, or sum, of two or more amounts.
  • Subtraction (−)
    • This operation is used when you want to find the difference between two amounts or how much of something you have left after a quantity is used – for example, if you want to find the change owed after spending an amount of money.
  • Multiplication (×)
    • This operation is also used for totals and sums but when there is more than one of the same number – for example if you are buying five packs of apples that cost £1.20 each, you would do 5 × £1.20.
  • Division (÷)
    • Division is used when sharing or grouping items. For example, if you want to know how many doughnuts you can buy with £6 if one doughnut costs £1.50, you would do £6 ÷ £1.50.

Activity 1: Operation choice

Each of the four questions below uses one of the four operations. Match the operation to the question.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  • a.You go to the local café and buy a coffee for £2.35, a tea for £1.40 and a croissant for £1.85. How much do you spend?

  • b.You need to save £306 for a holiday. You have 18 months to save up that much money. How much do you need to save per month?

  • c.Fourteen members of the same family go on holiday together. They each pay £155. What is the total cost of the holiday?

  • d.You make an insurance claim worth £18,950. The insurance company pays you £12,648. What is the difference between what you claimed and what you actually received?

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = c
  • 3 = d
  • 4 = a

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371