VR - Working Out Sums Using Letters

Next comes an element of the test which combines letters and numbers. Many of who are worried about your child's maths in the coming years will have nightmares about algebra but we will address this in the maths section – this is a very basic form which doesn’t have a great deal of technique about it. Have a look at the following questions and just remember that the code for each letter changes for each question.

Example – Letters stand for numbers.

If A = 7, B = 8, C = 18, D = 2 and E = 9,

work out the answer to the sum and write it as a letter.

C ÷ D –A

All you have to do is write this out – or do it mentally – using the figures given and then transfer the answer back into a letter. Using the code we are given, the sum looks like this:

18 ÷ 2 – 7 = 2

The code letter for 2 is D, so that is the correct answer.

Technique tip:

Some of you may remember an acronym from GCSE / O Level maths which showed you which order to carry out operations in mathematical questions. It said that you should carry out the division before the multiplication and then do the addition etc. Forget that for these questions. Carry out each sum starting at the beginning and work your way through unless told otherwise.

If A = 17, B = 8, C = 10, D = 22 and E = 6,

work out the answer to the sum and write it as a letter.

A x E – D ÷ C

As the technique tip states, start at the beginning and work your way through the sum. The first part is the hardest and it would help your child to write down the answer unless they are a maths whizz. If they need to write it out as a sum that’s normal but if they are foxed by a sum of this kind they are going to really struggle in the maths paper.

17 x 6 – 22 ÷10 = 8

17 x 6 = 102; 102 – 22 = 80; 80 ÷ 10 = 8. ‘B’ is the letter worth 8, so that is the answer.

If your child is practising this sort of question, it's easy to change the sum to make a new one and get them to find a different answer but with the same set of figures. If you're comfortable with numbers you can write your own letter sums faster than your child can answer them - nothing like a bit of variation!

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