Scientific calculations

Maths questions often start with the command words 'calculate' or 'determine'. They will then have a blank space for you to show your working. It is important that you show your working; don't just write the answer down. You might earn marks for your working even if you get the answer incorrect.

In some maths questions you will be required to give the units. This may earn you an additional mark. Don't forget to check whether you need to do this.

Maths questions might include graphs and tables as well as calculations. Don't forget to take a ruler and calculator.

If drawing graphs, make sure you:

  1. put the independent variable on the x-axis and the dependant variable on the y-axis
  2. construct regular scales for the axes
  3. label the axes appropriate
  4. plot each point accurately
  5. decide whether the origin should be used as a data point
  6. draw a straight or curved line of best fit

If you are asked to calculate an answer and it has lots of decimal places, don't forget to use the same number of significant figures as the data in the question. For example, if two significant figures are used in the question, then usually your answer would also be to two significant figures. Don't forget to check your rounding.

These questions have been written by Bitesize consultants as suggestions to the types of questions that may appear in an exam paper.

Sample question 1 - Foundation


One quarter of the children in a family have ear lobes. What is this as a ratio? [1 mark]

1:3 [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


Of the world’s population, approximately 55% have brown eyes. Calculate the proportion of the world that has a different colour? [1 mark]

0.45 [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


The offspring of a genetic cross are shown in this Punnett Square.

In this Punnett square the top row shows female alleles and the left-hand column shows male alleles


Complete the table below. [3 marks]

Homozygous dominant
Homozygous recessive

[1] per correct row:

Homozygous dominant250.251:3
Homozygous recessive250.251:3