Can you solve the GCSE maths question that’s left parents stumped?

More than 90 per cent said they didn’t know the answer

Emily Atkinson
Friday 19 May 2023 11:47 BST
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Related: Rishi Sunak details plans for pupils in England to study maths until age 18

A baffling GCSE question is leaving parents across the country stumped, as students prepare to sit their first round of maths exams today.

For the majority of students, the exam is split across two to three papers which this year will take place between 19 May and 14 June.

In February, Rishi Sunak set up a review of the teaching of the subject in England, insisting an “anti-maths mindset” was holding the economy back.

The prime minister is keen that all school pupils in the country study maths in some form until the age of 18 – although it will not be compulsory to study the subject at A-level.

Now, new research suggests 42 per cent of pupils believe that parents could successfully sit the exams today. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of students say their parents are unable to answer exam questions when asked for help.

The figures, from revision website SaveMyExams, were shared alongside a puzzling GSCE maths question for parents to try ahead of exam season. Some 92 per cent of parents stated that they didn’t know the answer, with only 8 per cent even attempting an answer.

The maths question depicts a shape with all measurements set out in centimetres. Underneath, it says: “The area of the shape is A cm². Show that A=2x²=24x=46.

The algebra question that has been leaving parents stumped
The algebra question that has been leaving parents stumped (SaveMyExams)

For those out of practice, the question at first may appear indecipherable. But SaveMyExams maths lead Lucy Kirkham advised those trying it out to first split the shape into smaller parts.

Ms Kirkham said: “Seeing questions with loads of algebra can be scary but breaking them down into smaller chunks will help you work through them more easily.

“Our maths experts at Save My Exams create colour-coded model answers which break down each question into easier steps to carefully guide users to the correct answer.”

Check out the answer to the maths question below:

The correct answer and workings out
The correct answer and workings out (SaveMyExams)

She continued: “This question gives you the answer you’re working towards, which can sometimes be off-putting as you wonder ‘How am I ever going to get there?

“Don’t let it worry you, just try to start with the first step and you’ll surprise yourself with how far you can get! Even if you don’t get all the way through, marks are awarded for different stages of your working - so you can always try to pick up some marks and use our model answers to see how you’d pick up the rest.”

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