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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Maths Subject Knowledge: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages. Join the course to learn more.

Creating written questions

During the course we have included a series of worded questions such as questions 9, 10 and 11 on Week 4’s problem worksheet. Worded questions allow real world situations and contexts that students can relate to, to be brought into maths lessons.

When a student is confronted with worded questions, there are a series of steps students need to complete in order to be successful. It can be useful to highlight these steps and support students through each step.

Steps for worded questions

  1. The first step is to read carefully the question, interpret the question and make sure the student fully understands what the question is asking. One technique which helps students to be successful in this stage is to draw a diagram showing the information given in the question.
  2. The second step is to break the problem down into a series of steps or sub questions.
  3. The third step is to create a ‘mathematical model’: usually a series of calculations to be carried out to solve the problem.
  4. The fourth step is to carry out the calculations accurately.
  5. The final step is to review your solution to ensure that your solution makes sense in the context of the problem.

An additional point can be added to help here: Once students have understood the problem it may be useful to ask them to estimate what the answer may be like. For example, less than 1, bigger than 1, bigger than 10, bigger than 100.


Consider these three calculations:

a) \(1\frac{1}{2} + \frac{3}{4} - \frac{1}{6}\)
b) \(\frac{4}{5} \times \frac{1}{3} \times \frac{5}{6}\)
c) \(\frac{2}{3} \div \frac{1}{4}\)

Your task is to write one worded question based on one of the above calculations. Set your question within a context appropriate for your interests’ or your students’, such that your chosen calculation will solve your problem.

Put your worded questions in the comments below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Maths Subject Knowledge: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages

National STEM Learning Centre