# Layout of answers to maths problems

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by balukoo, Jun 12, 2016.

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1. ### balukooNew commenter

Hi,
I would like to find out if anyone can suggest any help. My son have prblems with laying out answers to maths questions. He is year 8 now. When he gets to GCSE, he will have problems and certainly he can't do that at university, I seem to think that this is a widespread problem in schools. If it is, how can schools help to correct it? Many thanks for your help.
Examples below...

1) 3x + 2y = 5
2y = 5 -3x = (5 - 3x)/2
2) Given a set of questions on a question sheet, students tend to answer the questions on the sheet as much as possible even though there is not enough space on the sheet. They do not put the answer on an A4 paper.
3) When putting answers on A4 paper, they do not write down the equation or the important informations on the A4 first...
e.g. 2packs costs £3.20 5 packs costs £5
Which is cheaper?
Instead they would simply do the workings or simply write the answers.
4) Also when they write numbers, 0 looks like 6 .
5) When plotting a graph, there is no graph title, no tic marks and no x and y-axis labels.

2. ### Colleen_YoungOccasional commenter

I am sure you will find that teachers give instructions to counter these. I let my students know if the sheet is designed to be written on and given that I am always conscious of copying costs there is often no room on a sheet for quality answers. Students can use books or paper. I would also advise where a question is really short - start by writing that. i would never want students wasting time by copying out longer questions though.

Sometimes exam questions will have a requirement that working is shown; answers only would be awarded no marks.

3. ### hammieLead commenter

there are a lot of questions here, which one do you want answered first? I'm not sure quite what you are actually asking
re number 4, very common, just careless, up to the child to write more clearly.

4. ### balukooNew commenter

Thank you. Point taken for numberr 4.
I suppose 3) is one which I find the most frustrating which I would appreciate very much if you can give some advice. I have told my son many times to have a good methodical approach - write question number, important info before attempting to solve a problem. Many thanks.

5. ### hammieLead commenter

I have little doubt that his teacher(s) have been telling him exactly the same for years.
The new GCSE questions are a nightmare to mark if pupils do not lay out in a clear logical manner. As markers are paid something like 50p for a whole paper, they are not going to go hunting for the next step or key sub-answers.
So I would completely agree with you!
I suppose ideally. write the question number
mentally or with a ruler split the page into 2 columns
work one question DOWN the left hand column the other down the right. Underline both answers.
Then write a mini sentence conclusion: I would buy A/B because it is ____ cheaper than A/B

The entire point of the extended question is to fore the development of such layout.

Some pupils, especially boys, are very very reluctant to layout maths properly.

so much so that my school issues new books to pupils now, which they carry forward into next year so the new classroom teacher can see exactly what they are capable of.
We gave them out Monday and spent the entire week forcing good presentation and layout. Pages were publicly ripped out, head and dep heads visited all classes to back up class teachers,

6. ### hammieLead commenter

working down the page is the key and some pupils are extraordinarily reluctant to do this, having been taught horizontal working when they are younger.
This particularly annoys teachers moving here from abroad who do not understand why we teach all children one way so they have to unlearn inefficient methods before they can move on.

Owen134866 likes this.
7. ### balukooNew commenter

Really appreciate your response. Yes there is a reluctance to layout properly and to work systematically down the page and there were several incidences that I had to help my son to adopt an efficient method and unlearn the inefficient ones. You have given me some ideas how to help my son. Many thanks again.

8. ### balukooNew commenter

Many thanks to Casy too - Sorry, I just seen your comments. I will ask my son to make clear with his teacher. What you said is very reasonable and I would prefer answers to be written on a separate sheet or in the book, with reference to the question number. Appreciate your support very much.

9. ### Vince_UlamStar commenter

What's wrong with the old dunce cap?

FFrack'sS.

10. ### M1MathsNew commenter

I wouldn't accept this , since 2y does not equal (5-3x)/2
Layout I would insist on :
3x + 2y = 5
2y = 5 -3x
y = (5 - 3x)/2

mathsmutt likes this.
11. ### balukooNew commenter

I agree with you. Thanks.