Setting Out Calculations
When setting out
your calculation work it is important that you structure your answers.
Marks are given not only for the correct answer but also for a clear
communication of your thinking as you tackled the problem.
Here are some simple
steps to follow.
the question carefully and extract the information from
it by listing the data given to you on the right hand side of your
page. Make a neat column of the figures given
and the UNITS!!! (and change them into SI units if necessary
- for example, times given in minutes should be changed into seconds
there and then!)
- Think about what
is happening in the question and if appropriate
sketch a diagram to illustrate it - marking on forces,
the general equation that you are going to use to solve
the problem - saying what the letters/symbols stand for.
the symbols/letters with the data you have at the top of
the page to leave you with the unknown.
this unknown 'x'
- don't put '?' for it!
the equation and calculate the unknown - put each line
of mathematical reasoning on a separate line - use WORDS to explain
what you are doing - do NOT simply put a string of = signs between
sets of numbers that are not equal
- some students when changing 5 minutes into seconds write
5 = 5 x 60 = 300
= 300 ????? No way! Illogical maths!
should be written:
mins = 5 x 60 seconds = 300s
- Consider the
number of significant figures
that the quastion has been written in and then quote the numerical
answer to that number.
- Consider the
unit of your answer carefully and add it to the numerical
It is a good idea
to make your final answer stand out clearly by putting it on a separate
line and writing ANS after it.
Common ways to
the general equation
the wrong case of letter for a unit or a symbol
Here is an example
of correct layout...