Darryl Keane worked in education for 10 years and worked for Pearson marking the maths papers of students from all over England and Wales. We spoke to him about what the most common mistakes and misconceptions are on the maths SATs tests. ### Just add zero A classic misconception that may work for children - until they reach decimal numbers! Children need to have a secure understanding of place value to be able to multiply or divide by 10, 100 and 1,000. Try Our question set, [Multiply and Divide Whole Numbers by 10, 100 and 1,000](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Multiply-and-Divide-Whole-Numbers-by-10-100-and-1000), to help with this common problem. ###Column subtraction Column subtraction - a minefield of misconceptions! When using column subtraction, children may find the difference between the digits in a column instead of re-grouping. Errors also commonly occur when there are place-holding zeros in the larger number. Children often take the exchanged 1 straight to the column they are working on, missing interim exchanges. Our question set, [Subtract Numbers up to 3 Digits using the Column Method](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Multiply-and-Divide-Whole-Numbers-by-10-100-and-1000), help to address these issues. ### ‘How many more…’ and ‘Find the difference…’ questions. Children are frequently asked to find the difference between two values, but many children struggle to recognise these questions as requiring subtraction, especially out of lesson context. Bar models are particularly useful at helping children to see that they need to use subtraction. Our question set, [Subtract Numbers Mentally](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Subtract-Numbers-Mentally), cover this concept. ### Unfamiliar representations of fractions Children may be securely able to recognise ¾ in the context of simple shapes. However, when an unfamiliar shape or pattern is presented they will often attempt to draw horizontal or vertical lines or just shade in 3 parts of whatever shape they are presented with. Children need to securely understand the concept of the denominator representing ‘equal parts’ to be able to apply their knowledge. Our question set, [Recognise, Find and Write Fractions of a Set of Objects](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Recognise-Find-and-Write-Fractions-of-a-Set-of-Objects), helps children to understand fractions in a range of contexts. ### Confusion with carried digits When performing written calculations, children may not add carried digits. Children also commonly reverse the two digits, so if the ones column totals 37 they carry the 7 instead of the 3. The question set, [Add Numbers up to 3 Digits using the Column Method](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Add-Numbers-up-to-3-Digits-using-the-Column-Method), can help children to understand the importance of accurate carrying. ### Pie charts Pie charts present a challenge due to the lack of numeric scales. Children need to recognise that the circle represents a whole set of data, then use their secure knowledge of fractions, angles and percentages to solve problems. Our question set, [Interpret Pie Charts and Line Graphs](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Interpret-Pie-Charts-and-Line-Graphs), helps children to make these links. ### Adding fractions Another classic - children add the numerators and the denominators. This misconception is challenged in all of our adding fractions sets such as [Add and Subtract Fractions with the Same Denominator](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Add-and-Subtract-Fractions-with-the-Same-Denominator). ### Converting units of measure This links to number 1 on the list, but with the additional difficulty of knowing how many mm are in a cm. Children need to know the equivalences, then know whether to multiply or divide. Our question set, [Convert Between Different Units of Measure](http://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Convert-Between-Different-Units-of-Length-cm-and-mm/), helps children to develop this key skill. ### Pictograms A favourite on tests - the pictogram! Children enjoy them as they are often perceived as ‘easy’ questions. However, many children come unstuck on these questions if they don’t correctly interpret the value of one symbol. As this is located under or next to the main data table, children often miss it and consequently get the questions wrong. Our question set, [Interpret and Present Data using Pictograms](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Interpret-and-Present-Data-using-Pictograms), gives children the feedback and opportunities to avoid this common error. ### Shape Struggles Many Year 6 children still only identify regular shapes in standard orientations. A great example of this is the rotated square. Even though it is exactly the same shape with 4 right angles, children often see it as a kite. Our question sets, [Compare and Classify Geometric Shapes ](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Compare-and-Classify-Geometric-Shapes) and [Practise 2D Shapes](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Practise-2D-Shapes), give children lots of opportunities and feedback to secure their understanding of shape. If you would like to use any of the mentioned Question Sets or any of our other Question Sets that cover maths, English and science in KS2 and KS3, [open a free account today](http://www.lbq.org/TryLbQ/).