The majority of the questions in any GCSE maths exam do not contain any tricks. The exam sets out to assess the students’ ability to solve problems using their knowledge of the particular GCSE maths topic that is being tested. There are questions, though, where the examiner may be assessing the ability of the candidates to read the questions carefully. One maths topic where this is likely to be the case concerns questions relating to measurement, especially maths questions that relate to areas and volumes.

In this blog the word “units” will refer to centimetres, metres etc, so there will be square units and cubic units, as this makes the explanations easier.

When doing your GCSE maths revision on topics associated with areas and volumes, the first thing to do with each question is to look at the units of the measurements that have been given to you and the units that are required in the answers. If there are any measurements where the units differ, highlight them immediately.

If the units do not differ, then continue with the question.

If the units of the measurements given to you differ, then you have to decide which measurement(s) have to be changed and this must be done before you do any calculations.

If the measurements given to you have the same units but you are required to calculate an area or volume giving the answer in different square or cubic units, change all the measurements before you do any calculations. It is easier to change the units of linear measurements than those of square or cubic measurements.

If you are required to calculate a linear measurement using a linear measurement and a square measurement that have different units, change the units of the linear measurement.

If you are required to calculate a linear measurement using two linear measurements and a cubic measurement, change one or both linear measurements so that all the measurements have the same units as the cubic measurement.

It is important when doing your GCSE maths revision that you practise these strategies. You must ensure that there is uniformity throughout the units in all GCSE maths questions that require the calculation of any units of measurement.

Remember when doing your GCSE maths revision that attention to minor details will ensure you lessen the chances of stupid errors in the actual GCSE maths exams.