Maths questions

Don't forget to take a ruler and scientific calculator into the exam.

Maths questions often start with the command word 'Calculate'. You need to use numbers given in the question to work out the answer.

When an answer to a maths question is marked:

  • full marks are given for the right answer
  • marks may be given for working, including substitution and rearrangement
  • calculation errors carried forward are worked through to give credit for later working
curriculum-key-fact
Always show working in calculation questions. You can get marks for correct working, even if the answer is wrong.

Take extra care when converting between units.

Make sure you give answers to a suitable number of significant figures.

Maths questions might ask you to plot or complete a graph or table. When you draw a graph, make sure you:

  • plot each point accurately
  • draw a best fit straight line or curve, where appropriate

You may be given a grid with axes labelled and scales already given. Sometimes you may be given an empty grid for you to supply your own axes. When you do this:

  • put the independent variable on the x-axis and the dependent variable on the y-axis
  • choose even scales and make sure that the points cover at least half the given grid
  • label the axes with their quantity and unit, eg time (s)

Sample question 1 - Foundation

Question

Air pollution is a significant concern in cities across the UK. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the air pollutants which is present in cities, due to traffic. The table below shows data collected over one week in a city in the UK.

DayMonTuesWedThursFriSatSun
NO2 concentration in ppb32363541433529

Describe the trend in NO2 concentration over the seven day period. Suggest an explanation for your answer. [4 marks]

This question has been written by a Bitesize consultant as a suggestion to the type of question that may appear in an exam paper.

The following are valid points that could be included in your answer. It is important that you do not bullet point your answer but write your sentences in full.

  • during the five days Monday to Friday, the concentration of NO2 shows a general increase [1]
  • with an anomaly/slight decrease on Wednesday [1]
  • the values are lower at the weekend [1]
  • this could be because there is less traffic at the weekend [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Question

Using the data in the table above, calculate the average NO2 concentration during the seven day period. Give your answer to two significant figures. [2 marks]

This question has been written by a Bitesize consultant as a suggestion to the type of question that may appear in an exam paper.

  • 35.857 [1]
  • 35 ppb (2 sf) [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher

Question

The graph shows how the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has changed since 1900.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1900

Calculate the percentage increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide from 1975 to 2000. [1 mark]

This question is AQA material which is reproduced by permission of AQA.

13.8% [1]

Sample question 4 - Higher

Question

The graph below shows the global average surface temperature since 1900.

Surface temperature since 1900

What was the global average surface temperature in 1980? [1 mark]

This question is AQA material which is reproduced by permission of AQA.

15.08 °C [1]