The solution is in the question

The good news is that if you know what you’re looking for, the method is usually hidden in the question – or at least a clue to the method, that will help you to get started. But to read the clues, you need to know the lingo. And that means knowing all of the maths vocabulary that might come up on the GCSE. You need to know your expressions from your terms, and your solutions from your evaluations.

What follows is an overview of some of the key vocabulary needed for GCSE Maths, broken down into topics. 


  • Positive, negative, integer, decimal, fraction, proper fraction, improper fraction, mixed number
  • equal to, greater than, less than, greater than or equal to, less than or equal to
  • operation, inverse operation, simplify
  • reciprocal, prime number, factor, factorisation, common factor, multiple, common multiple
  • power, root, square, cube, indices, index notation, standard form, terminating decimal, recurring decimal
  • ratio, percentage
  • significant figures, decimal place, rounding


  • algebraic, expression, equation, inequality, formula, term, factor
  • evaluate, solve, substitute, simplify, manipulate
  • like terms, expanding, factorising, rearranging, subject of equation, equivalent
  • difference of squares, surd, identity, function
  • reciprocal, sequence, triangular number, nth term
  • coordinates, quadrant, gradient, intercept, roots, turning points, quadratic, linear, cubic


  • point, line, vertex (vertices), edge, plane, face, surface
  • centre, radius, diameter, chord, arc, circumference, tangent, sector, segment
  • parallel line, perpendicular line, right angle, bisector, alternate angle, corresponding angle
  • polygon, regular polygon, quadrilateral, equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle
  • square, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezium, kite, rhombus
  • cube, cuboid, prism, cylinder, pyramid, cone, sphere
  • reflective symmetry, rotational symmetry, congruence, similarity, translation, enlargement, scale factor
  • line segment, bearing, scale, vector


  • outcome, frequency, frequency tree, probability scale, random, fair, expected frequency


  • sample, sampling, distribution, population
  • frequency table, bar chart, pie chart, pictogram, scatter graph
  • discrete data, continuous data, grouped data, univariate data, bivariate data
  • mean, median, mode, modal class, range, outliers

If you know what all of these words mean – really know, well enough to be able to explain it to a friend and give an example – then you’re well on the way to a top grade in your Maths GCSE. And remember, if you or your child need help, that’s what we’re here for! Good luck! 

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