How good are you at maths?

By Hannah McDowell Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thousands of adults are clueless about basic maths - with 42 per cent admitting they often struggle with even the most basic sums, according to a new survey published today by leading maths tuition firm, Maths Doctor.

We decided to put our students and their parents to the test and asked them firstly how good they considered themselves to be at maths and then if they could explain Pythagoras’ theorem in 20 seconds.

Check out this video to see how they got on:

Maths Doctor - How good do you think you are at maths?

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Why not have a go at explaining Pythagoras’ theorem to a friend. Or spelling mathematics backwards? Let us know how you got on by leaving a comment at the bottom of the post.

As part of the study, researchers found that simple times tables, percentages and division leave a large number of adults scratching their heads.

Many also admitted to struggling with fractions, measurements and in some cases, even adding and subtraction. The results come not long after chancellor George Osbourne dodged a question from a seven-year-old boy asking him the answer to ‘7x8’.

The study also found: - Almost one in ten didn’t know that 6 x 7 is 42. - Fourteen per cent also had no idea that 25 per cent of 240 is 60, while 15 per cent were unaware that a foot is equal to 12 inches. - Less than half were able to identify 61 as a prime number and just six in ten knew that 49 is a square number.

It also emerged that four in ten find it difficult to keep up with their child’s education and help them with their homework.

But almost half admitted to viewing maths as a ‘waste of time’ when they were at school because they felt it wasn’t something they would use in the future.

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Rahim Hirji, CEO of Maths Doctor, which commissioned the research, said: ”It’s a cause of great concern that more than one in four respondents to our survey admitted their lack of maths knowledge has caused them problems in everyday life.

“This shows that, despite what many may think growing up, maths is a vital life skill, whether it’s budgeting for a family holiday or simply working out your share of a restaurant bill.

“We shouldn’t expect everyone to be experts when it comes to maths, but it’s worrying to see so many adults who struggle with even the most basic of maths questions.

“What’s even more worrying is that this aversion to maths is being passed down from parents to their children and this is something we need to combat.”

It also emerged from the study that almost three quarters feel they could do with improving their maths skills, with six in ten admitting they wish they tried harder, or paid more attention while they were younger.

Although 43 per cent of people said they felt learning maths was a waste of time, more than one in four admit their lack of knowledge has caused them problems in everyday life.

Many said their poor maths skills had left them struggling to work out the cost of something due to exchange rates when abroad while others have given someone the wrong money or change.

Others have struggled to work out cooking measurements or been caught out with interest rates and fees on loans or credit cards.

Rahim Hirji, Maths Doctor CEO, added: “More needs to be done to highlight the importance of maths and we see it as part of our role to encourage children to see the value of such a key subject.

“These survey results may help explain the ever-growing tuition market in the UK, especially for maths.

“Many parents come to us looking for a maths tutor because they are simply unable to offer the help and support their child needs when it comes to understanding the maths curriculum.

“Particularly with the UK ranking 26th in the OECD Pisa 2013 report, we see the growing number of parents seeking tuition for their children to continue into the foreseeable future - there is a real need for supplementary education providers to help bridge the gap between the UK and other countries in terms of our nation’s lacking maths skills.”

Top ten areas of maths we struggle with the most

  1. Long division
  2. Angles
  3. Square numbers
  4. Prime numbers
  5. Fractions
  6. Negative numbers
  7. Percentages
  8. Division
  9. Measurements
  10. Decimals

Top ten daily maths struggles

  1. Dealing with exchange rates while on holiday
  2. Given someone the wrong money or change
  3. Made or bought something the wrong size after adding or subtracting measurements wrong
  4. Worked out your share of a restaurant bill wrong
  5. Bought too many/not enough of something such as tiles or paint after working out the area of a room wrong
  6. Problems cooking because you struggle to understand weights and measurements
  7. Thought an item was cheaper than it was in the sale because you worked out the price difference or percentage wrong
  8. Have been caught out with loans/credit cards because you worked out interest rates or fees wrong
  9. Bought a poor value product because you couldn’t work out which one was best value for money
  10. Gone over budget due to poor adding or subtracting
Categories: General | Maths