Maths Tutoring:~ Sweet or not so sweet


How hard-boiled is a GCSE sweets question?

In the age of social media, a particular Edexcel GCSE question was identified by the press, following a flurry of student online comments, as being particularly difficult one. But was it? And if so, why was it deemed tricky?

Here it is – Hannah and a bag of orange and yellow sweets. (A bag of fruit would have been healthier):


Now there's no doubt that probability questions can be confusing and sometimes even counter-intuitive. (The Monty Hall problem featured in Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time definitely comes under that category). But in this case, the probability side of things seems not too difficult, and ths type of question of drawing one type of item from a bag is common at GCSE.

Some students are definitely afraid of algebra in what ever form it appears and to solve this question you need to be able to us a little basic algebra. This would immediately put some students off even tackling the question. Perhaps, the sight of a quadratic equation as the destination required may be off-putting to others. Some exam-stressed brains may just have been fixated on the mystery of how on earth this expression would appear, instead of working forward from the facts known to, what then becomes, an inevitable answer. (Students are often asked to solve quadratics but problems do not so often resolve into one at GCSE.)


To view the Word file showing a way to chew through the problem click here.




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