If I were to be asked the most important skill associated with passing external examinations at age 16 or thereabouts, I would say without any shadow of a doubt it is a good knowledge of times tables. Through the thirty years of my teaching career, We have encounter so many students (both in schools and as private students) who have no idea their times tables at age 16 sufficiently in order to calculate such things as a fifth of 45 or the total duration of 8 ropes, each 4.5 metres long. - times tables worksheet

The points I make have universal relevance across the whole world, even though i write as a teacher in the UK, so my examples relate specifically to this country. We have a system of examinations now by which there is certainly nearly always a calculator examination paper as well as a non-calculator paper at each level from age twelve. So, is of great benefit in the calculator paper too, as knowing that seven eights is fifty six is much less time consuming than having to press the appropriate buttons on a calculator, even though a good knowledge of tables is definitely needed in the non-calculator paper. In an examination, seconds count.

A moment's thought will reveal lots of the instances where times tables are used. Every money problem in any currency involving a multiplication ($12.67 x 9) or division (Find the average of $34.50, $33.60, $59.90 and $46.80) uses times tables. Percentages (Find 17% of 12.50), fractions (cancel 45/75 to the lowest terms), geometry (find the internal angles of a regular octagon), algebra (expand 7a(3a 6b 9c)) and speed problems (find the average speed of a car that travelled 960 kilometres in 8 hours) are just a few of the many more examples to be found on examination papers.

A way of practising times tables is always to complete random tables squares, i.e. tables squares wherein the numbers 1-10 are distributed randomly across the top of the table and on the left-hand side. I am just currently employing a group of 8 and 9 year olds inside a local primary school, several of whom can already complete such a table correctly within a few minutes. At sixteen years old, the excellent majority of students should be able to easily beat that time - and obtain them all correct, obviously.

The question of whether times tables from 1 to 10 is sufficient often crops up. Should youngsters be aware of twelve and eleven times tables? 1 to 10 is sufficient for all examination work and I would then concentrate on learning the square numbers up to 20 x 20 as these are very useful for Pythagoras' Theorem if you live in a mostly metric country. If you live in a country still using feet and inches for everyday measurements, then you will probably need to learn tables up to 12 x 12.

So, if you or your youngsters are taking external examination some time soon, the one thing you could do to improve your performance more than anything else is to get those tables well and truly in the old brain box!

Alan Young is a teacher of mathematics for thirty years both in primary and high schools. he has worked in the private as well as the public sector and coached a large number of private students in this particular subject.

He has been accountable for a large amount of mathematics material that is used in over 18,000 schools throughout the uk and abroad.

Alan has two children of his very own, three foster children (now adult) as well as a stepson, so has taken up six teenagers altogether. - times tables worksheet