GCSE Maths Exchange Rates

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When you go on holiday it is more than likely that you will be using a different currency (money) to the one that you are used to using. In the United Kingdom, the currency is the Pound or also known as Sterling. This is studied under the area of GCSE Maths Exchange Rates and is a practical application of maths in the real world. 

But in different countries there are different names for the type of currency. In America it is the dollar, in Europe it is the Euro and in Japan it is the Yen. 

The value of a currency is often discussed in the news and also newspapers and the value varies on a daily basis. 

The calculations are not difficult when it comes to Exchange rates but you need to make sure that you are reading the questions carefully in order to get things right. 

GCSE Maths Exchange Rates - Example


Take a look at the following question:

You are given a gcse maths exchange rate question, you need to find the currency conversion, which is on the second line in this case. You are asked what £900 is worth in dollars.

What is the calculation?

Well if £1 will get you $1.70, then £2 will get you $1.70 x 2 = $3.40, £3 will get you $1.70 x 3 = $5.10 and so on. 

But as highlighted the calculation that has been performed is that of multiplication. If you are never sure of the calculation, you should ask yourself, what you can get for £2, £3, etc and shown above. 

So this means that £900 will get you $1.70 x 900 = $1,530


Here is another question to consider based on the same exchange rate as the previous example.

Now the question here is what is the calculation?

This is a calculation that students often find difficult but try to imagine the whole $160 as a block.


If you start breaking the whole block into parts of $1.70, you will be able to determine how many $1.70’s go in $160. Of course doing this with a diagram would take a long time, but the calculation that is being performed is that of division

So $160 ÷$1.70 = £94.12 and remember to take note of the question in terms of giving your answer to the nearest penny. 


It is quite common for gcse maths exchange rates questions like this to appear and the key is to make sure that the amounts are both the same.

So glasses in the US are $35.50 and glasses in UK are £26.99, so converting this to US dollars, £26.99 needs to be multiplied by $1.42 to give $38.33. 

The glasses are cheaper in the US but make sure you are reading the question carefully. At the end it does ask for the difference so £38.33 – $35.50 = $2.83

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Question Practice

Try the following gcse maths exchange rates question on your own before looking at the solution.

Question Practice Solution

So how did you get on? Hopefully you found the answer to be £3.70.

To work this out first find the total cost of the items that are bought. 

Cheese rolls: 2 x £3.50 = £7.00

Coffee: 1 x £2.50 = £2.50

Juice: 1 x £2.20 = £2.20

Total = £11.70

You are told that some of this payment is made with a €10 note and that the exchange rate is £1 = €1.25. So a question to ask now is what is €10 worth in UK pounds?

You can visualise this using a block as seen before:

In the above diagram, the whole block is €10 and you want to see how many times €1.25 fits into it, so the calculation that needs to be done will be that of division. 

So €10 ÷€1.25 = £8

Remember the total bill was £11.70 of which £8 has been paid (with the €10 note) so the amount that is left is £11.70 – £8 = £3.70

In essence when it comes to the maths behind exchange rates you are simply converting UK pounds to other currencies. The process either involves multiplication and division. 

There are of course other calculations that you may need to do as you have seen in the above examples. 

Exchange rates can appear on either the calculator papers as well as the non-calculators, but here, the calculations will be more straightforward.

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