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

Calculate the Rf value for the red ink by using the data in the table and the equation below. Give your answer to two significant figures.

Distance in mm
Distance moved by red ink13
Distance from start line to solvent front44

R_{f} = \frac{distance\ moved\ from\ the\ start\ line}{distance\ moved\ by\ solvent\ from\ the\ start\ line}[3 marks]

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

R_{f} = \frac{13}{44} [1]

0.2954 [1]

0.30 (to two significant figures) [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Question

During a chromatography experiment, a pigment moved 3.4 cm, whilst the solvent had moved 4.8 cm. Calculate the Rf value and give your answer to two significant figures. [3 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.

R_{f} = \frac{3.4}{4.8} [1]

0.70833 [1]

0.71 (to two significant figures) [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher

Question

Use the diagram of the chromatogram below to calculate the Rf value of the blue ink.

Five inks and a starting line

[3 marks]

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

Correct measurements from diagram [1]

Use of equation R_{f} = \frac{distance\ moved\ by\ blue\ ink}{distance\ moved\ by\ solvents} [1]

0.25 [1]

Question

Using the diagram above, will the Rf value of the yellow ink be higher or lower then the Rf value you calculated for the blue ink? Explain your answer. [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.

The following are vaild 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.

Higher [1]

Because it moved further up the paper [1] (or proven by correct calculation)