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Maths

Probability

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Calculating probabilities

Here are two fair spinners. The total score is the sum of the two numbers the arrows point to.

Jot down, systematically, all the possible outcomes for the two spinners. You will find it useful to use a table of results, as shown.

 

Triangular spinnerSquare spinnerTotal score
101
112
123
134
202
213
224
235
303
314
325
336

Use the table to answer these questions:

Question

How many different possible outcomes are there?

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Answer

12. All you have to do is count the number of entries in the table.

Question

How many outcomes gave a total score of 2?

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Answer

Only 2 outcomes give a total score of 2: a '1' on each spinner, or a '2' on the triangular spinner and '0' on the square one.

Question

What is the probability of getting a total score of 2?

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Answer

The number of outcomes giving a total score of 2 ÷ the total number of outcomes = 2/12 or 1/6

Question

How many outcomes gave a total score of 4?

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Answer

3.

Question

What is the probability of getting a total score of 4?

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Answer

The number of outcomes giving a total score of 4 ÷ the total number of outcomes = 3/12 or 1/4

Relative frequency

You can estimate probabilities from an experiment. These are sometimes called experimental probabilities.

For example, in an experiment where you drop a drawing pin:

  • The pin lands up 279 times.
  • The pin lands down 721 times.
  • The total number of throws is 1000.

drawing pin

So the probability of the drawing pin landing up is:

The number of times this outcome occurs (pin up) ÷ total number of outcomes (or trials) = 279/1000 (or 0.279, or 27.9 %).

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