Succeed with maths – Part 1
Succeed with maths – Part 1

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.

Free course

Succeed with maths – Part 1

4.2 Understanding a solution

Taking a closer look at some of the problems with the solution provided by the contractor:

4 × 3 ÷ 0.5 × 0.5 = 48 × 6 = 288, call it 50 to be safe, so = 50 × 6 = 300

If you calculate 4 × 3 ÷ 0.5 × 0.5 following BEDMAS, the answer is 12. However, the contractor seems to have worked this out as 48. What they needed to do to make this calculation clear was to include brackets:

(4 × 3) ÷ (0.5 × 0.5) = 48

There is another problem with this first calculation as well. Does (4 × 3) ÷ (0.5 × 0.5) = 288? No, it doesn’t – so the contractor has misused the equals sign here and needed another line of working.

What about ‘288, call it 50 to be safe’? Why is the contractor calling 288, 50? This doesn't make sense. Finally, what about ‘so = 50 × 6 = 300’? Do you really know if the 300 means slabs or pounds?

This is another way that the contractor could have written out your quote to be clear:

The total area of the patio to be covered = 4 m × 3 m = 12 square metres

Area of each slab = 0.5 m × 0.5 m = 0.25 square metres

So the number of slabs needed = 12 ÷ 0.25 = 48

But purchase 50 slabs to allow for cuts and mistakes

Then the total cost of 50 slabs at £6 each = 50 × £6 = £300

Therefore, the total cost of the slabs is £300

This solution now:

  • explains using words in each step of the working
  • uses a new line for each part of the working
  • makes use of linking words such as ‘so’, ‘then’, ‘but’ and ‘therefore’
  • uses equals signs correctly
  • includes units to make the final answer and workings clear.

If you follow these basic ideas, your maths will be clear to others and – most importantly – clear to you.

So, that was our final message of this course! And if you follow it, this really will make a big difference to your maths.

Skip Your course resources

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