It’s all very well learning how to do all the maths operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and being able to put them to work with fractions, decimals, percentages and angles, but our Key Stage Two kids need to know how to use them to solve word problems!
In the Key Stage Two SATs, two out of three of the maths papers are reasoning papers – they are worded questions where a student needs to work out what operations to use to solve a problem or puzzle. This can be really intimidating for many children!
We can help them by getting them to use RUCSAC to approach the question!
Here’s an example from a past SATs paper:
R – READ!
First things first – read the question carefully! What is it asking? It’s asking:
It’s asking for the number of chocolates Ken has bought.
U – UNDERSTAND!
OK, so we need to know how many chocolates Ken bought. How are we going to work this out? Let’s look at the information we’ve got:
He bought THREE large boxes containing 48 chocolates, and TWO small boxes containing 24 chocolates. Three lots of 48, and two lots of 24.
C – CHOOSE!
So let’s choose what mathematical operations we are going to use. In this case, we are going to have to use both multiplication and addition:
3 x 48 = and 2 x 24 = and then add the two answers together!
S – SOLVE!
Using whatever method we feel comfortable with (column method, grid method, repeated addition) we can now work out the calculation! In the SATs exam, when we see this box and the wording ‘Show your method’, it is important that you write your calculations down in the box provided.
To get the full two marks, you’ve got to get the right answer AND show how you got there! If you don’t get the right answer, but show the correct method, you will still get a mark for doing the right mathematical operation.
A – ANSWER!
And the final answer is 192! It is really important in the SATs exams that the answer is written in the box provided (see the above image) – IF THE ANSWER ISN’T IN THE BOX, YOU LOSE A MARK, EVEN IF YOU GOT IT RIGHT!
C – CHECK!
Check your answer – have you answered the question? We needed to know how many chocolates Ken bought altogether, and we worked out that he bought 192 chocolates. So now let’s quickly check the calculations are right to get to that figure – check to make sure we’ve made the right multiplication calculations and then the right addition.
One last point – in the SATs exams ALL children can ask for a question to be read out to them. It’s really important to encourage them to do this, especially if they are unclear about what the question is asking. Although a teacher cannot explain what is needed to answer the question, often just having the question read to you helps to clarify what the question is asking. This is the guidance the government gives to teachers and teaching assistants:
And that’s our RUCSAC unpacked!
Sample SATs maths questions found here