As you can see from Figure 9, ratio is an important part of everyday life.
Ratio questions can be asked in different ways. There are three main ways of asking a ratio question. Take a look at an example of each below and see if you can identify the differences.
A recipe for making plaster of Paris says that flour and water must be used in the ratio 3:2. If you wish to make 500 g of plaster, how much flour should you use?
You are growing tomatoes to go in the school greenhouse. The instructions on the tomato feed say ‘Use 1 part feed to 4 parts water’. If you use 600 ml of water, how much tomato feed should you use?
Ishmal and Ailia have shared some money in the ratio 3:7. Ailia receives £20 more than Ishmal. How much does Ishmal receive?
Before discussing the differences in the types of question, it is important to understand how to tell which part of the ratio is which. If, for example, you have a group of men and women in the ratio of 5:4 – as the men were mentioned first, they are the first part of the ratio. This is the case in all ratio questions. The order that the items are written in the question directly relates to the order of the given ratio.
In questions of type 1, you are given the total amount that both ingredients must add to, in this example, 500 g. In questions of type 2 however, you are not given the total amount but instead are given the amount of one part of the ratio. In this case you know that the 4 parts of water total 600 ml.
The final type of ratio question does not give us either the total amount or the amount of one part of the ratio. Instead, it gives us just the difference between the first and second part of the ratio. Whilst neither type of ratio question is more complicated than the others, it is useful to know which type you are dealing with as the approach for solving each type of problem is slightly different.