# What's the max GCSE grade you're likely to get without rapid recall of times tables?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mature_maths_trainee, Jan 28, 2012.

1. ### mature_maths_traineeNew commenter

I'm sure it varies considerably, but is it (say) 'very unlikely', 'unlikely', 'possible' or 'quite possible' to get a Grade C without the ability to rapidly recall (say) 7, 8 and 9 times tables?
I'd like to know because, I've many students in a bottom set Year 9 class who don't know their times tables, but are otherwise fairly bright. In (future) discussions with their parents, I'd like to put it in concrete (but reasonably accurate) terms just how limiting this lack of skill is likely to be. Some parents might be more motivated to 'encourage' home learning of times tables if they realized it was likely to jeopardize their child getting a Grade C?
Or, conversely, perhaps I shouldn't worry about this set of students too much if they stand a reasonable chance of 'getting' a Grade C without such rapid recall.
[I find it particularly hard to motivate Yr9+ students to learn and practice their times tables. As well as naturally not wanting to put in the effort, I believe they are also deterred by the fact that many times table learning resources and games have a very childish 'look', which they find aggressively condescending/humiliating. (e.g. on MangaHigh, it's building a column of ice cream cones)].

2. ### DMNew commenter

I have helped hundreds of students attain grade C or better who have not known any multiplication tables properly so it is perfectly possible.

3. ### AnonymousNew commenter

Well it's a good thing MyMaths isn't childish!
Yesterday I used the mean and mode section - it covered the mean IQ of worms. And as for those pictures when they do the Race the Clock - looks very amateurish.
As for rapid recall - not necessary - but correct recall and confidence in basic skills (bonds, adding, subtraction, division and multiplication and an ability to estimate correctly) is useful. But to be honest - a good mathematician should be able to recognise when an answer does not make sense.

4. ### s1x

Rapid recall is never tested in a GCSE.
As DM states, many pupils who gain C or higher cant do it. In fact some don't know very much in terms of maths. They are simply squeezed through the process of obtaining grades by cramming, superficial learning and dumbing down in an attempt to scrape it through on watered down linear papers or multiple resits of modules.

Take a GCSE:
2 Papers, max 2 hours each.
One is calculatoir, therefore no need for numeracy skills to be good. So they will be tested, after 11 years, on a max of a 2 hour paper much of which requires no numeracy skills.
The non calc paper at no point will require a pupil to know their times tables off the top of their head they can spend as long as they want writing 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 down the side of the page to obtain the answer to 7 x 8.
IMO you may wish to ask yourself:
"Do I want mathematicians or do I want grades?"
After many years I have decided there are two main types of pupils I teach. Those you teach maths to and those you get through the system for your, their and the schools benefit. The latter often end up being subjected to 'maths' that would make you shudder in an attempt to see the C grade on their result slip in August. Until the system changes thats the game that is often played.

With all due respect, I think you may have to manage expectations of the level/quality of interaction you will have with some parents of these pupils.
Many pupils in such sets may not have or want to access the internet and may also lack parental influences or support in terms of education.
The time you spend with them may end up being the only quality learning time they encounter and therefore deciding on a strategy to get them from A-B in the easiest way may be something you adapt over time.
My first lesson with a C/D border group, in fact my first 2 weeks is wildly different to the 10th/11th and certainly looks nothing like what I do 6/5/4/3/2 weeks out from an exam. At no point would multiplication come into it.

5. ### wrldtrvlr123Occasional commenter

Anyone ever use Timez Attack and similar games through this sight (apologies if this in the nature of teaching one to suck eggs)? My students seem to have enjoyed them and most showed some improvement in retaining times tables, etc.
http://www.bigbrainz.com/index.php

6. ### lizziec

I don't know about the stats, but as a practical solution - is it worth making sure they can all write out a multiplication grid accurately and fairly quickly - If they do that at the start of an exam, then they can refer to it for the rest of the time? (If you get them to practice writing out the grid often enough, they might even learn some of the tables!)

7. ### PaulDGOccasional commenter

It's certainly possible to get an A* without rapid recall of times tables - there's plenty of time in a GCSE to either write out a multiplication square or to just add up any necessary multiplication facts as they come along.

However, I expect there's a significant correlation between those who are very poor at times tables (can't recall squares, can't recall 2s, 5s, 10s) and lower GCSE grades - but I think there's a possibility here of confusing a significant correlation with a causal one.

GCSE does not and O level never did test "times tables".

8. ### Colleen_YoungOccasional commenter

Very true - they need them but as others have said would have thinking time.
On the subject of games for tables there are some (free) games out there that don't look childish - have you seen all these? (You have obviously seen 'Sundae Times'!).