Science 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 dependent 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


Calculate the mean distance with and without caffeine to two decimal places. [2 marks]

AttemptDistance on ruler (cm)Distance on ruler (cm)
numberWithout caffeineWith caffeine

Without caffeine: 32.50 [1]

With caffeine: 19.75 [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Graph showing the upper and lower percentiles of height growth from age 0 to 20.

Identify the height of a boy aged 10 years on the 50th percentile? [1 mark]

140 cm (accept 138 to 142 cm) [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


A baby boy is born in the 9th percentile for height. Explain what this means for him in terms of the rest of the population. [1 mark]

For every 100 boys, 91 will be taller than him and only 8 will be shorter. [1]