Why Do I Have To Show My Working Out In Maths?

Because if you don’t then your work doesn’t really show that you understand how to get the answer. There’s no actual proof that you know how to get the right answer because there are no steps.

Your teacher might be thinking:

  • You might not know how to work out the answers so you guessed them and guessed them correctly.
  • You might have somehow copied the answers from someone else who did know how to work them out.
  • Maybe you think that just because you know how to do it and you can get the right answers without showing steps, then you don’t need to show your steps.

Your teacher has to know that you’ve done the work yourself and the only way they know for sure is if you show your working out.

Why showing your working out is useful in Maths

  • It shows exactly how you found the answer.
  • It makes it easy to check your work, you just have to read what you wrote and make sure it’s correct.
  • It helps you to remember how to do the working out. By practicing your working out you get better and faster at doing it.

Maybe you can figure stuff out in your head without showing your working. That’s pretty cool and you probably get the highest marks in your class. If you’re not then it might be because you’re not showing your working out for the harder Maths.

You have a choice

Showing working out in Maths is just part of school. I used to have students that wouldn’t show any working out. In particular a girl in year 7. Hayley was her name and she used to get every question in every test 100% correct. But she didn’t show any working out.

So the only way I could get her to do it was to only give her one mark for each question she got correct. She started showing steps in her tests after I told her I would do this.

I did this for all the students I taught at Eltham High School who didn’t show their working out and I did it in a fun way. Most of them weren’t happy about the idea of getting only 1 mark for each correct answer but they realised they had a choice: show no working and not get a good score, or show the working out and be amongst the top results in their class.

They chose to show their working out and they were happy about it because I wasn’t forcing them to do it.

Students I tutor don’t always show their working out

Many of my students don’t always show their working out. When they’ve copied the answers it’s pretty obvious and I find this out by asking them how they did them. I usually let them off the hook and don’t say anything about it. But what I do say to them is that I want them to start showing more working out. And they usually do especially when they start to realise that it makes Maths easier to do.

These students only copied because they didn’t really like the Maths at the time and so they took the easy way out. I can’t take marks off them for not showing their working out and I can’t force them to do it. All I can do is encourage them to show their working and give them some good reasons why it’s going to benefit them.

If I was your teacher and you were not showing your working out and you were still getting the highest marks in the class, and I knew that you weren’t copying from someone else, I wouldn’t give you full marks unless you showed your working out. But what I would also do, I would give you some more challenging work to do, and even encourage you to start next years Maths. Maybe you could ask your teacher to do the same.


These ’rules’ are really just good habits that you or your child need to succeed in Maths. Most of the students I’ve tutored were struggling with Maths and had what you might call ‘bad habits’. These ‘bad habits’ were making Maths hard for them to understand and do.

Once they changed these bad habits into good habits they could focus more easily on the ‘how to’ part of Maths and Maths started to become easier for them.

Learn the secrets of successful Maths students by getting the 10 RULES FOR SUCCESS IN MATHS pdf.

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