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11+ Grammar School Exams Prep: Why Times Tables are important?

11+ Prep: Importance of times tables before leaving primary school


Did you know? There is enough evidence that suggests that students who struggle with times tables in primary school are most likely to fall behind in secondary school. In fact, a study published by Ofsted, the school’s watchdog, suggests that students without instant recall of multiplication tables often struggle at math throughout their academic life. The study suggests that pupils should be able to recite 12 x 12 times tables by the age of nine.


Hence, it is important to introduce multiplication tables to primary school students in its basic form at the earliest, so pupils can easily notice the patterns early on. Understanding the repetitive pattern of multiplication tables allows 11+ students to apply their knowledge to more advanced problems for 11+ grammar school exams and even at a later stage.


11+ Exams Resources: Using Times Tables in Daily Life

Knowing times tables does not all have to be in an academic set up alone but can be easily applied in real life situations in a number of ways. Parents can innovate and teach times tables to kids by simple examples like cutting-up food into portions to share among friends and family, playing multiplication Bingo or Snap to handling money in various situations and numerous other real-life scenarios. This engages curious minds allowing them to apply multiplications on a day-to-day basis.


While emphasising on the importance of being able to recall times tables at primary school age, Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for School Standards said, “It is vital that all children can grasp and master arithmetic while they are still at primary school. If we fail children at this early stage, the risk is they will never catch up”.


Some of the benefits of knowing times tables early on are:


Learning one times tables helps learn the other combinations

Knowing one set of basic tables allows pupils to understand and remember combinations of others too. For example, when students know 2 x 4= 8, they can easily understand 20 x 40 = 800, similarly they can work out 20 / 4 = 5. If they know 4 x 5 = 20. Hence, multiplication tables form the building blocks for advanced concepts.


Helps mental arithmetic

Memorising multiplication tables enables students to work out problems quicker in their heads. It also enables them to add, subtract and divide faster.


Increases confidence

Knowing their tables gives 11+ pupils the confidence to tackle more complex problems faster without having to use their fingers. This will prepare them for 11+ grammar school exams and more competitive examinations like SATs and ease them into secondary curriculum.


Jean Humphrys, Interim Director Education and Care at Ofsted said a range of methods could be used to teach times tables but that the teaching must be “rigorous”. Hence, teachers often consider fluent recall of multiplication tables as an essential prerequisite to success in 11+ grammar school exams.

11+ Prep Resources: Times Tables

For all these very valid reasons, it is important that pupils are fluent in their calculations with regards to multiplication tables before they leave primary school especially when they are going for 11+ grammar school exams and 11+ admissions. After all, it is key for children to have all the important tools of arithmetic at their fingertips for every academic success.

We have some simple tools here to help you test your proficiency with multiplication tables. Why not give it a go? You may also want to read more about 11+ Exam Prep: Group Tutoring vs One-to-one Tutoring here.


If you are looking for maths tuition in Basingstoke or help with 11+ grammar schools exams, we have some of the best tutors in Basingstoke to help you excel at Maths. Please book a free assessment or get in touch.