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Is it normal to lose marks in a maths exam if you got a question right bu didn't show workings?

(62 Posts)
GreenGinger2 Tue 07-Feb-17 19:53:03

Dd got 3 questions right(fractions) but only half the marks in each because she didn't show her workings. Written on paper that this was the case.

Seems harsh.confused

Dd has forbidden me from querying it with teacher (fierce) so won't be but would just like to know out of interest if this is the norm and the reason.

She did well but those 3 marks would have raised her percentage.

Heirhelp Tue 07-Feb-17 19:53:47


Heirhelp Tue 07-Feb-17 19:54:15

How old is she? I would expect this to have been drummed into her.

Gardencentregroupie Tue 07-Feb-17 19:55:16

Yes and it's the same the whole way up at least to degree level. It does end up benefitting you when things get more complicated, if you mess up halfway through something you still get the marks for the parts you did right.

tribpot Tue 07-Feb-17 19:56:01

Yes - this is true in primary school as well (certainly in the top end of KS2).

MrsJayy Tue 07-Feb-17 19:57:20

Yes dd was always doing it they need to show the workings

NoraDora Tue 07-Feb-17 19:58:11

Yes. Especially with the new gcse.

GreenGinger2 Tue 07-Feb-17 20:00:19

Year 7. I can understand getting a mark for good workings if you got the answer wrong. But losing a mark because you have done it in your head in a hurry and got it right seems harsh.

OdinsLoveChild Tue 07-Feb-17 20:02:00

Yes, I never could get the workings out to show the correct answer but I just knew what the answer was. I lost a significant number of points which drastically reduced my grade at gcse. She really does need to work on it to get those grades. once she leaves school no one will care about the workings out as long as the answer is correct

SellFridges Tue 07-Feb-17 20:03:04

Yes. I could get a decent amount of method marks but rarely got the answer right!

Gardencentregroupie Tue 07-Feb-17 20:03:20

Not harsh really. For things like simple fractions questions a correct answer could just be a lucky guess without the working being shown. At year 7 chalk this up to a learning experience.

Chasingsquirrels Tue 07-Feb-17 20:04:41

I've been drumming this into my yr9 ds for at least 6 years. It isn't enough to just show the answer, and your working need to be legible.
Maths isn't just about numbers and the answers, and becomes less and less so as you progress.

I've told my kids that at many levels in life, getting good marks or getting on at work etc is more about knowing what you need to do in order to fulfill the required criteria. While trying to ensure that they still develop their own thinking which will be needed more in later life than in secondary level exams.

PurpleDaisies Tue 07-Feb-17 20:05:17

But losing a mark because you have done it in your head in a hurry and got it right seems harsh.

No, you have to show workings to prove you understand what you're doing and haven't just guessed the right answer. It's totally reasonable.

I wish people would stop thinking it's a sign of superior maths intelligence to not show workings. The higher you go in maths and science the more you realise how important it is that others can follow what you're doing. The earlier this starts in school the better.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 07-Feb-17 20:05:34

Presumably the marks for the question are split up, so some are for the workings and the rest for the correct answer.

PurpleDaisies Tue 07-Feb-17 20:08:44

once she leaves school no one will care about the workings out as long as the answer is correct

That's absolutely not true if she ends up anywhere near science.

leonardthelemming Tue 07-Feb-17 20:10:26

I used to mark A level physics exams, so similar. The exam board rule was that a bald correct answer got full marks, but a bald incorrect answer got zero. The reasoning was that the candidate couldn't have obtained the correct answer without knowing how, ifswim.
On the other hand, some questions - and I am sure this applies to maths too - state quite clearly "show your working". If this were the case then it would seem reasonable to lose marks for not doing so. And of course, if other pupils obtained the correct answer and did show their working then they probably deserve more marks.

BubbleWrapQueen Tue 07-Feb-17 20:10:35

Yup, totally true. And in some exam questions even if they get the right answer, if there is no workings, they score Zero. They're usually indicated by an asterisk, to prevent guessing.

FourKidsNotCrazyYet Tue 07-Feb-17 20:10:44

It was true when I was at school and it's still true now, I'm very surprised you're even querying this. The children are told again and again that they need to do this. On the plus side had she written her workings but got the wrong answer she could have potentially still been given marks because her workings may have been correct to a point. They aren't testing just the answer they are testing that the children are very clear how to get to the correct answer. That's surely the whole point of teaching them!

GreenGinger2 Tue 07-Feb-17 20:11:54

Not inferring superior maths intelligence just find it bizarre. Dd is v good at maths and will do v well at GCSE but actually gets extra time for Sen. Poor kid has a fair bit to cope with in maths tests. Having to do extra writing out when she has jumped through a couple of hoops to get it right in the first Plath seems harsh.

Hey ho though,if that is the way it is she'll just get on with it, as she normally does.

MerylPeril Tue 07-Feb-17 20:12:38

Yes. My dad was a maths examiner. You got marks for correct working out even if answer was wrong, often a mark if the working was wrong but correct method.
So for a full mark it would have to show correct working out and correct answer

GreenGinger2 Tue 07-Feb-17 20:14:14


And not querying it with teacher,just querying it here. Because I can as even though just a parent I do have questions from time to time.hmm

She does want to go into science- chemistry.

PurpleDaisies Tue 07-Feb-17 20:15:26

Not inferring superior maths intelligence just find it bizarre.

Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound as if you were saying that. It's a really common thing to hear-my child is so clever he doesn't need to show workings or he's so good he knows the answer without even knowing why. If you don't know why the answer is right you're just really god at guessing. It really irritates me.

PurpleDaisies Tue 07-Feb-17 20:17:04

She does want to go into science- chemistry.

In that case the earlier she can adjust to showing every single step of her working the better.

Chemistry's great fun. Really good luck to her.

Batteriesallgone Tue 07-Feb-17 20:20:05

The higher you go in maths and science the more you realise how important it is that others can follow what you're doing.


user1484226561 Tue 07-Feb-17 20:25:59

Absolutely, I've been marking exam papers all day. Half the marks for the working, and half for the answer.

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