For Primary School age children

For Key Stage 3, GCSE and A Levels

For IGCSE, A Levels and beyond

If you’re buying a calculator to take into an exam, make sure you check the current regulations for the examining organisation before you buy. You don’t want to turn up for your exams and find you can’t take your calculator in with you!

At the present time, all the calculators shown in the section ‘For Key Stage 3, GCSE and A Levels’ are allowed into all UK school exams where calculators are permitted. Graphic calculators are a controversial subject when it comes to exams. The Casio fx-9750GII is ‘Permitted for use in all school examinations UK & Ireland’, according to the packaging. If you are in any doubt about buying calculators for school use, check with your teacher before you buy.

Witney Maths Tutors is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

]]>If you look on the internet or even on your local High Street, you’ll find that there’s a huge range of calculators available, costing from just a couple of pounds up to hundreds of pounds. So, which one is right for you or your child? What are the different types of calculator?

Here’s a basic summary of the types of calculator around, and who might want them

** What does it do?**

- Add
- Subtract
- Multiply
- Divide
- Percentages
- Square roots
- Simple memory function

** Suitable for:**

- Primary school age children
- General use around the home

** What does it do?**

- Combinations
- Coordinate conversion
- Degrees
- Degrees/minutes/seconds
- Exponential regression
- Exponents
- Expression editing
- Factorials
- FIX/SCI/NORM
- Fractions
- Gradians
- Hyperbolics
- Inverse regression
- Linear regression
- Logarithm
- Logarithmic regression
- Negative Indicator
- Permutations
- Power regression
- Quadratic regression
- Radians
- Random numbers
- Reciprocals
- Roots & powers
- Standard deviation
- Table of a function
- Trigonometrics (SIN/COS/TAN)
- Multi-replay

** Suitable for:**

- Secondary school onwards

** What does it do?**

- Angle measurements(DEG/RAD/GRA)
- Bar chart
- Combinations (nCr) & permutations (nPr)
- Complex numbers
- Confidence intervals (Z & T)
- DEC/HEX/BIN/OCT conversions
- Distribution Tests (Z, t, chi, ANOVA)
- Distributions (NORM/T/CHI/Fbinomial/poisson)
- Dynamic graphing
- FIX/SCI/NORM
- Fractions
- Graphing
- Hyperbolic / Inverse Hyperbolic
- Inequality
- Logic Operations
- No. of Regression Types 10
- Numeric Equation Solver
- Parametric
- Parenthesis levels 26
- Pie chart
- Polar
- Random numbers
- Rectangular
- Roots & powers
- Single and double variable
- Statistical calculations
- TVM – Financial Calculations

**Suitable for:**

- Secondary school onwards

Some models of graphic calculator are allowed into GCSE and A Level exams, others are not. Check current rules for the relevant examining organisation before you buy, if you want a calculator to take into exams.

For GCSE and A Level exams, a Scientific calculator is all that is necessary, although a Graphic calculator may be a useful extra.

What does it do?

- Amortization
- Cash flow (Investment Appraisal)
- Compound Interest Calcualtions
- Conversions
- Cost sell margin and day calculations
- Exponential regression
- Full scientific functions
- Linear regression
- Logarithmic regression
- Multi replay
- Quadratic regression
- Simple and compound interest
- Time-Value-Money calculations

Suitable for:

- Anyone studying financial management

1 What do you want the calculator for?

2 Does your school have a recommended model?

3 Does your school sell calculators at cost?

4 What features do you need now?

5 What features will you need in the (near) future?

6 Does the calculator have a protective cover?

7 Is the calculator solar powered, battery or both?

8 Which calculators are allowed in to the exams you will be taking?

9 How much am I willing to spend on a calculator?

10 Does the calculator look like you would find it easy to use?

Buying calculators, most people find there are just too many to choose from. Take a few minutes to answer the questions above, and you should be able to start looking with a clear idea of what you need.

]]>This is where written methods of addition begin to look more familiar. Compact column addition is the method that most parents will probably be familiar with. What may be different though is the way that the process of addition is explained, as you work through a compact column addition sum. Before we get to compact column addition, let’s take a look at expanded column addition.

The addition is set out in the traditional column way. When children first use this method they may be asked to add the tens first, and then the units. The answers to these partial sums are written one below the other, making sure that the digits are written in the appropriate columns. The answers to the partial sums are then added to give the final answer. Adding the tens first makes it easier to relate column addition to addition using partitioning.

Once familiar with column addition, children move on to adding the units first. Click on the image below to see examples of expanded column additions.

The final stage is compact column addition, which is what most parents are probably familiar with. The modern maths way of describing what is happening at each stage of the calculation may be less familiar though.

Suppose you are adding the numbers 259 and 78. First you would add the units, 9 + 8 = 17, write down the 7 as the first part of the answer and *carry ten*. Note that it is ten that is being carried over and not one. Then, when you add the tens column you have 50 + 70 + 10 (that was carried over) = 130. You write the 3 in tens column as the next part of your answer, and carry 100. Lastly, add the hundreds column, 200 + 100 (carried over) = 300, giving you a final answer of 337.

You may be wondering what the point of going through the various other stages and methods is, rather than working on compact column addition straight away. The idea is to work towards compact column addition, making sure that children have a clear understanding of what is happening during the calculation, rather than simply learning how to carry out addition mechanically.

Calculation policies vary from school to school. Your child may use all of the addition methods covered in this post and the previous one, or only some of the methods.

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**Written methods for addition of whole numbers**

Number lines

Number lines can be used to help with addition, either numbered lines or the empty number line. See the previous post for more information about number lines and what they are.

At Key Stage 2, the empty number line is usedto help with addition. Suppose you want to do the addition 8 + 6. Start with an empty number line, mark 8 at the left. 8 + 2 is 10, so mark 10 to the right of the 8, and link them with an arrow. Above the arrow write +2, because you have added 2 to get from 8 to 10. Add 4 to 10, because you want to add 6 altogether and you’ve already added 2, 6 – 2 = 4. 10 + 4 is 14, so mark 14 to the right of 10. Link the 10 and 14 with an arrow, and write + 4 above it. You now have the answer, 8 + 6 = 14. Click on the image below to see an illustration of this and another example.

Partitioning

The partitioning method breaks addition of two digit or larger numbers down into easier additions. Suppose you want to add two two-digit numbers together. First split each two digit number into tens and units. Add the tens together, add the units together, then add your results to get the final answer. Click on the image above to see examples.

If you learnt to do addition by the more traditional method, using column addition and carrying over where necessary, then partitioning may seem odd. Partitioning can help children to understand what is really going on when they move on to column addition.

]]>**Some Basics**

Place Value – the value of a digit in a number depends on its place value in that number. Understanding place value is vital to understanding numbers and the number system. Modern maths tends to use the term place value, before it might just have been referred to as ‘knowing your hundreds, tens and units’.

Number line – a simple tool for helping with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Modern maths tends to use number lines instead of counting up and down on fingers for simple sums. Number lines may look very much like a ruler, with equally spaced segments marked out. An empty number line is just a line, numbers and arrows are added to record the steps in a calculation.

Number bonds – the term for pairs of numbers that add up to a specific number. For example, number bonds to 10 are all the pairs of numbers that add up to 10. You are most likely to come across number bonds to 10, 20 and 100.

Subtraction bonds – similar to number bonds but using subtraction instead of addition. The basic set of subtraction bonds is all the subtraction sums you can make using the numbers from 1 to 10. Sometimes these can all be shown together in a subtraction grid or square – click on th image below to see an example.

In the next post we’ll take a look at addition methods used in modern maths.

]]>**Focus on your target**

Your first step should be to decide upon which grade you are hoping to achieve in your GCSE Maths. If a C grade is realistically the best you are likely to achieve, there is no point wasting time on topics that you only need to know to achieve an A grade. If you are unsure as to which topics you need to learn in order to achieve your target grade, use the links below as a source of reference:

How to get a grade A at GCSE Mathematics

How to get a Grade B at GCSE Maths

How to get a C grade at GCSE Mathematics

Now you can have a look through all the topics that you need to learn and decide on your weakest areas – which you should of course give priority to.

**Making a study plan**

Once you have highlighted which areas you need to concentrate on, you may be a little disheartened. Now is the right time to work out a study plan to ensure that you spend some time on all the different maths topics on your list. Put together a calendar that shows all the spare time that can be allocated to maths revision. It is a good idea to incorporate all of your study subjects into this calendar, to ensure that they are not neglected. You should now be able to work out exactly how many hours you can afford to spend on each area.

Here are a few tips that can help you get the best results from your available study time:

- Break study periods into 45 minutes, taking at least a 10 minute break between each
- Make use of time spent on the bus or in the car whilst on the way to school
- Remove or turn off any distractions during study, such as mobile phone, Facebook etc.
- Try to organise some group sessions with pupils that are committed to their study
- Recognise which time of day you are at your best and tackle the most difficult topics then

**Seeking extra help**

In addition to studying alone and with your fellow pupils, it is a good idea to also seek extra help from a maths tutor – especially if you are struggling in certain areas. The one-to-one tuition affords you the opportunity to ask as many questions as required, in order to understand the topic at hand. This approach will mean that you come to understand problems quicker, leaving more time to focus on other topics.

You may struggle to find an available maths tutor at such short notice and with exams rapidly approaching. If this is the case, then you may wish to consider an online tuition service. In the past online tuition was somewhat limited. However, advancements in technology, such as onscreen whiteboards and VIOP capabilities, now mean that online tutors can provide a fully interactive service. Class sizes tend to be between 6 and 10, with attending pupils at the same learning level. Such services allow pupils the opportunity to take part in group work and also receive one-on-one tuition as required.

For more in-depth information on how such services work, visit iTutorMaths – online maths tutor.

Guest Post by Matt Barnes of iTutorMaths

]]>Before you even think about booking in for the QTS numeracy test, make sure you prepare yourself properly.

- Borrow or buy a GCSE Maths textbook. I would recommend getting a Higher tier book. The questions in the Foundation tier books may not be quite challenging enough to prepare you properly.
- Print off a copy of the test content information from the Department for Education website
- Use the test content information as a checklist for the topics you need to revise
- As you work through the topics, make sure you look at related sections of the book. For example, the test content lists ‘measurements, eg distance, area, so related topics would include calculations involving volume, miles per gallon, km per litre, average speed, journey time etc
- The topics listed under Mental arithmetic are especially important because you don’t have much time to answer the questions in this section, and you have no control over the speed the questions are asked. Practice answering questions on these topics without a calculator, and think carefully about the quickest method to use.
- Measurements and conversions are included in the Mental arithmetic section. Make sure you know and understand how to convert between metric and imperial units, and how to convert between fractions, decimals and percentages
- Make sure you know your times tables, preferably including 11 and 12. Knowing your tables well can save you precious seconds in the test, especially the mental arithmetic section
- Practice working with data, especially two way tables, bar charts, pie charts and box plots. You need to able to quickly assess the data in a question and know how to fill in any gaps or use the data to calculate means, means of differences, etc
- Once you have worked through the full list of content, it’s time to try an online practice test.
- If you can do the practice tests without any difficulty, and you’re feeling confident then you’re ready to take the QTS numeracy test. If not, you’ll know where the problem areas are now.

For many people, the biggest issue is the lack of time in the mental arithmetic section. If that’s where you have trouble, there are two things you need to look at:

- Make sure you know all the topics listed in the test content well, so that you can very quickly work out what the question is asking
- Have a look at mental arithmetic strategies. You need to know a good range of mental maths techniques, and be able to spot straight away the quickest way to do the calculation

Been practicing or revising with friends? Don’t forget there are usually several different mental maths methods for any particular sum. What your friends find the quickest method may not be the one that’s quickest for you. Find what works for *you*.

If, after revising all the topics listed in the test content, and revising mental maths strategies, you still don’t feel confident then consider getting some extra help. Your tutor may be able to help. If not, a few hours of individual tuition may be all you need.

For those of you in the Oxofrd area, I can offer individual tuition which will improve your knowledge, improve your mental maths techniques and give you the confidence you need to pass the QTS numeracy test. If you are interested in tuition, check out the FAQs, Email me or give me a call .

]]>If you live in the Witney area, how about giving your revision a kick start with some individual Maths tuition? I currently have a few vacancies for GCSE and A Level revision lessons over the Easter holidays. Whether you are aiming for an A* or you just want to be able to get through the exams without panicking, individual Maths tuition can be a great help! You might be surprised how much difference just a couple of hours of individual tuition can make to your confidence level.

**10 Ways individual Maths tuition can help you with your revision:**

- You spend at least an hour on revision and exam preparation, with no distractions or diversions!
- It’s an ideal way to tackle the problem areas and topics that you probably avoid when you revise on your own
- You have a chance to ask questions,
*as many questions as you like*, without worrying about what anyone else thinks - Going through past papers with a tutor, you can learn exactly where you dropped marks, and learn how to avoid those same mistakes in your exams
- Making sure you know how to set out your answers clearly, to ensure that you get all the marks you can, method marks as well as the answer marks
- Learning how to pace yourself in the exam – how not to spend 10 minutes on something that will only give you 1 mark!
- Understanding the mark schemes and what the examiners are looking for can help you get all the marks you can, as efficiently as you can
- Improving your understanding so you can answer exam questions, even if they are worded or set out in an unfamiliar way
- Going over any topics you may have missed out on
- Last but not least,
*improving your confidence*

If you think some individual Maths tuition might help you prepare for your exams, why not book a session and try it? If you’d like to book some tuition or you just have a few questions to ask, email me. I’ll get back to you promptly! You can also give me a call with any questions you have, see my contact details here.

You can also find the answers to some of the most popular questions people ask on the Tuition and FAQs page.

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**Preparation**

Ask yourself honestly, did you do enough preparation for the mocks? Chances are you probably didn’t. Make sure you prepare properly for the exams and give yourself the best possible to chance to do as well as you can.

**Learn from your mistakes**

Look carefully at any questions you lost marks on in the mock. Make a list of all the topics covered in the questions where you dropped marks, so you know which topics to spend extra revision time on.

**Don’t understand? – Ask!**

If there is anything you couldn’t answer, or got wrong in the mock, and you still do not understand the topic and how to answer the question correctly, ask your teacher.

**Plan your revision**

Planning your revision might seem boring but it can save you a lot of time. If you plan your revision well, you will benefit more from the revision you do and you will need to spend less time revising. All the time you do spend revising should be productive – no time wasted on wondering what to look at next. List the topics you had trouble with in the mocks, and any other topics you know you struggle with. Use the list as the basis of your revision planning. It’s tempting to simply avoid the topics you have trouble with, but that doesn’t solve the problem!

**Take a break!**

Don’t revise for more than an hour or so before taking a break for 10 to 15 minutes. Get up, move around, get some fresh air, and then go back to your revision feeling refreshed. A healthy snack during a break can be a good idea – your brain needs feeding to work well.

Even if you did as well as or better than you expected to in the mocks, it’s still worthwhile preparing properly for the exams.

If you’re feeling like you need some extra help to get the grades you need in the exams, check to see what extra help is available at school and ask your teacher. Disappointing mock results don’t have to mean disappointing exam results, you just need to put some extra time and effort in if you want to improve your grades.

If you can’t get the help you need at school, why not try a few hours of individual tuition?

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