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Functional maths help. Worked examples based around the new maths GCSE.

Updated on July 22, 2010

Starting from September 2010, students in the UK will be facing the new maths GCSE which contains functional elements of mathematics. Functional maths is basically maths that has a function in real life. You will be applying your mathematical knowledge to solve problems that you will face when you leave school. Some of these problems could be working out the cost to carpet a flooring area, designing the plan of a new kitchen (and pricing it up) or working out which bank accounts offer the best deal.

Examination questions will be longer (instead of broken into sub questions) and will carry more marks. Therefore, I would say it will be harder than the old GCSE maths syllabus, especially for less able students. It will be interesting to see what the new grade boundaries for the new maths GCSE will be.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of functional maths.

Example 1

A kitchen wall measures 75 cm by 2.25m. It is to be tiled using square tiles that have side length 25cm. Tiles cost 42p per tile. Work out the total cost of tiling the wall.


First work out how many tiles fit along the length of the wall.

225 ÷ 25 = 9 tiles

(Notice 2.25m = 225cm)

Doing the same for the width gives.

75 ÷ 25 = 3 tiles

Now if you multiply these together it will give you the total amount of tiles that fit the kitchen wall.

9 × 3 = 27 tiles.

Now the final step is to multiply the amount of tiles by the unit cost of a tile.

27 × 42 = 1134 = £11.34

Example 2

Amy fills her car up at the petrol station. Unleaded petrol costs 118p per litre at this station. According to the car handbook, Amy’s car can travel on average 54 miles per gallon. How many miles can she travel on £20 of petrol?


First work out how many miles she can travel on 1 litre of petrol. Since 4.5 litres is approximately 1 gallon divide 54 by 4.5.

This gives 54 ÷ 4.5 = 12 miles per litre.

Also you will need to work out how many litres of petrol she can buy with £20.

Do this by dividing the amount of money she has got by the cost of the petrol per litre.

2000 ÷ 118 = 16.95 litres (2 decimal places)

Finally, multiply the amount of litres of petrol by the cost per litre.

12 × 16.96 = 203 miles.


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