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 Post subject: As easy as abc ... or maybe not?Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:29 am

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:29 pm
Posts: 32
My poor DS has school exams next week, one of which is verbal reasoning. This weekend I set him a Bond VR paper 9-10 age range (he is 9). One of the questions was roughly as follows:

If a=1, b=2, c=3, d=4 etc etc

What is the value of:
abc
def
etc etc

My son's answer for the value of abc was 123 whereas the actual answer in the back of the book was 6 (ie 1x2x3). I was suprised by this as I would not have thought a year 5 child would be expected to have done algebra and certainly not to the level that they would know that abc represents axbxc, in fact I am not even sure my DD had covered this in year 6.

Any thoughts on this?

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:07 am

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:24 pm
Posts: 170
I'm no VR expert but I would say that based on how you describe the question it is not obvious what sort of answer thay are wanting, given this is VR and not maths!

We have been practising 11+ level papers from Athey, NFER and IPS and have not come across a question quite like this, they have always made it clear what operations are required.

In fact we have done a little bit of Bond and glancing through the 9-10 book that we have, they mostly do have the operators but one or two are as you describe, I suppose the clue is that the question refers to "calculations". I agree with you, my Y6 son might well not understand what was required.

Regards

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:19 am

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:24 pm
Posts: 170
Just to make clear: a similar question I spotted in our Bond book refers to "calculations", if your question says "values" I think thats more ambiguous.

In addition the question I found only has one part of the question like this, other parts are clearer, eg b+c+e, a-e.

These sorts of questions are partly about following instructions. My son has gone wrong in the past by giving answers as numbers when they wanted letters, for example.

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:25 am

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:29 pm
Posts: 32
The paper was paper 6 in the 9-10 VR Bond book. I can't remember the question numbers and don't have the book to hand at the moment as I am at work. I will see if it says value of calculation when I get home.

Regardless of if it says calculate or value, my point still stands that a year 5 child would not be expected (I hope) to know algebra, let alone that abc represents a x b x c.

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:57 pm

Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:25 pm
Posts: 2610
I have come across Qs like these when working with my DS. I have noticed they are often part of the more complex sums you get when covering the 21 types.

I totally agree with your comment, my DS is good at maths but simply didn't know that 2A meant 2 X A. Luckily he has a mother who does but hardly makes for a fair way of testing a children's potential.

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:21 pm

Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:30 pm
Posts: 279
Location: Hertfordshire
Hi

We've come across lots of letter/number code questions, which my DS finds OK. I wouldn't really class this as algebra. It's just codes. I think they all find algebra hard, if they think of it as codes they'll find it much easier

Yes the answer is 6. But not 1x2x3. It's 1+2+3

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:29 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:29 pm
Posts: 32
Ally

The answer is 1x2x3= 6 and not simply adding as this is consistent with the answers (in the back of the book) for the other parts of the question that were asked which were not a simple matter of addition and also ties into to the one where they asked something like ac+bd. The fact that you thought that abc is asking you to add a, b and c, yet the answers in the back of the book clearly were multiplying, is further evidence that it is not a great question.

My point about algebra is you need to know algebra to know that abc would typically mean you are multiplying the letters together in the same way that if you saw 2a that would mean 2xa

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 Post subject: Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:15 pm

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:24 pm
Posts: 170
I think it is potentially confusing. As Ally said there are other questions where ABC means A+B+C (which you are told in the question). It might be worth comparing and contrasting the question types when going through them with the children.

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