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When the answer just doesn’t seem right : Correcting Maths Mistakes

I’ve completed  a couple of Foundation exam papers this week, as a bit of forward planning for one of my students – and when I came too compare my answers with the official ones,When I looked at my answers I saw I’d made some mistakes, so this is an entry about correcting maths mistakes.

In this post, though, I’d like to share with you a question that I did get wrong initially, but where I spotted my own mistake.

The thing is – My answer just didn’t seem right.  And that’s what I’d like to share with you in this posts – It’s a very important skill with number questions; To be able to feel when your answer feels right.

This is the question






To make this comparison, you need to work out how much one biscuit cost.

For the 20 Biscuit tin the sum is  £1.50/20. Although this is from a calculator paper, I did this ‘long hand’ and got the answer 7.5p each.

Next I did the calculation for the second tin, again ‘long hand/in my head’  and got the answer 5p per biscuit.

I don’t know how I did this – I made a mistake, and I never pretend I never make mistakes. I just wasn’t taking care.

But what I can do is think ‘Um, that doesn’t seem right. The second box costs a bit more than the first, and has slightly more biscuits.’

The answer just had to be about the same, not as different a 5p and 7.5p. That might seem like a big difference, but 7.5p is 50% more.

So I did the answer again, and found the cost per biscuit was also 7.5p each. The answer was that Nada was wrong, box 2 offers the same value, not better.

This might not work every time – If my wrong answer had been 7.4p per biscuit I may not have spotted my mistake.

But you would be surprised how often just thinking as you write your answer ‘does this make sense’, you can spot some basic errors. Correcting Maths mistakes is essential if you are to get the grade you deserve : Don’t let it effect your grade.

Here is some more useful advise on avoiding errors

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