Adults struggling with basic maths, with one-in-five requiring a calculator for even the most simple sums

Two per cent of those polled said they needed to use a calculator to work out all sums involving numbers larger than 10

Adults struggle with simple sums and rely on the use of calculators for the most basic mathematics, according to new research.

A YouGov poll commissioned by BAE Systems found that around one-in-six adults in the UK say they are embarrassed by how difficult they find the subject, while one-in-five find simple sums difficult enough to require the use of a calculator.

The poll interviewed 2000 members of the public, 38 per cent of whom say their job requires a small amount of maths every day, while 50 per cent agreed that many of life’s important decisions require an understanding of the subject.

Despite noting the significance of maths, 30 per cent of those polled said they found the subject “uninspiring” at school, while a quarter of them described it as having been their least favourite lesson.

As well as asking them about their experiences and attitudes towards maths, those questioned were also required to complete random multiplication tasks.

These tests surprisingly revealed the 11 times table to be the most difficult, with one-in-five making basic errors. This is despite the long-held schoolyard belief that the 11 times table’s format (11-22-33-44-55-66-77-88-99 etc.) is by far the easiest to remember.

The study also found that two per cent of those polled said they needed to use a calculator to work out all sums involving numbers larger than 10, three per cent for numbers higher than 20, seven per cent for those over 50 and 13 per cent for numbers greater than 100.

BAE Systems group managing director Nigel Whitehead said: “Maths and science are crucial to the success of Britain's youth and our nation's future but it appears that we start to lose arithmetic skills as we grow up.”

He added: “Good maths skills open up so many opportunities both personally and professionally. With increased competition for jobs it is more important than ever that students keep working at maths and the sciences - continued study of these subjects will likely lead to rewarding and sustained employment in the engineering and technology sectors.”

National Numeracy chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “Being numerate means being able to use numbers and think mathematically, which is essential for so many aspects of everyday life and work, and this poll suggests that many people recognise that.”

He went on: “We are developing the National Numeracy Challenge to respond to this and enable everyone to start to improve their maths. To anyone tempted to say 'I can't do maths', we say 'Yes, you can'.”

The BAE Systems poll, conducted by YouGov, questioned 2,016 adults between March 2 and 6 and the National Numeracy survey, also conducted by YouGov, questioned 2,151 adults between February 27 and March 1.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...