Use The Digits

Use the digits ...

7 1 4 8 8

... to make 854

You have five minutes to get as close to 854 as possible using any mathematical operations you know but each digit only once.

A Great Way To Begin Your Mathematics Lesson


Topics: Starter | Arithmetic

  • The Best Maths Class (7cdM2), King Alfred's College, Oxfordshire.
  • Very,very good but clearer instructions would have been helpful. Can we have something more challenging please!
  • Christine Fraser, St Patrick's Catholic Primary School WELLINGTON TELFORD
  • Children initially would have liked more information. e.g. Could they use each number more than once.
    Children thought they had to use integers individually not combine to form HTU.
    Solved though!
  • Mike Litoris, Mianus, Nebraska
  • I was surprised to find that I had found it a different way.
    33 (16) + 8 = 536
    as well as, the one I used, (making a simple answer that much more difficult)
    (8^3) + 6 (1 + 3) = 536.
  • Red Table (Callum,Callum Nico Tremayne Shaun), Cheadle Primary School
  • It was very challenging and very very fun. It was easier because it was a team effort.
  • Adenike Onifade, London
  • I find this very good to teach life skills, I told my pupils that often in life our only limitations are the ones we impose on ourselves. The question did not say what you can or can not do, so get creative and do whaever you want to do: HTU by TU, repeat digits,double it, make up your rules. the differentiation is built in, If the whole class can get the answer the I would have imposed certain conditions to make it more difficult. Good idea, welldone.
  • Frances, Wales
  • The instructions could have been clearer. We weren't sure whether to use numbers more than once.
  • Netherlee Primary, Mrs Sweeney's Epic Maths Set
  • Clearer instructions would have been better. We were confused as to whether we could use the numbers more than once. We enjoyed the challenge though and one girl in the class managed to work it out. We did not use calculators.
  • 7O, Telford
  • Good exercise, but the instructions need to be clearer. In particular it should state that each digit can only be used once.

    [Transum: Thanks for the comments. The instructions now state that each digit can only be used once.]
  • Alan Brooke-feather, Wolverley High School Worcs
  • Clearer instructions please, otherwise a good starter my top set yr 7s enjojed it.
  • Sharon Wray, Geneva
  • A brilliant starter. We use this at least once a week and the children love it. Year 6 class Geneva. Thank you!
  • Steve Eastop, Margate, Kent, UK
  • My solution is:
    2^(8-1) x (2+1) which is equivalent to: 2^7 x 3 which is, in turn, equivalent to: 128 x 3 which = 384. This method uses all the numbers except the 6! The question doesn’t stipulate that you can’t use the numbers as powers/exponents/indices, etc….
  • Rosie Meynell, Kilgraston School
  • Kilgraston L4 (Rosie Meynell) achieved 2207 by:
    (3^(8-1))+(5x4)=2207. Yay!
  • Mr Mcmillan, Wicor Primary School
  • We got 930 after a painfull hour!!! but eventually we got it.
  • Primary 6, Blackridge Primary School
  • We thought it was fun and challenging. I took us a while to finish it. Lots of us tried to think outside the box.
  • Hafsa, Eastwod
  • I think this question is very challenging but that's what I like.It is a kind of question which you have to use your mathematical knowledge !!!!
  • Mr Norris And 8Q4, Birmingham
  • Queensbridge School got 2822.857 with a target of 2828.
    3^9 / 7 = 2811.857
    2811.57 + 11 = 2822.857.

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
Click here to enter your comments.

If you don't have the time to provide feedback we'd really appreciate it if you could give this page a score! We are constantly improving and adding to these starters so it would be really helpful to know which ones are most useful. Simply click on a button below:

Excellent, I would like to see more like this
Good, achieved the results I required
Didn't really capture the interest of the students
Not for me! I wouldn't use this type of activity.

This starter has scored a mean of 3.0 out of 5 based on 472 votes.

Previous Day | This starter is for 2 March | Next Day



What strategies did you use?

Did you use your head, paper or a calculator?

Or did you use all three?

Could a computer help solve this problem?

Would you improve if you practised solving problems like this?

How could a group of students efficiently work together on a problem like his?

Note to teacher: Doing this activity once with a class helps students develop strategies. It is only when they do this activity a second time that they will have the opportunity to practise those strategies. That is when the learning is consolidated. Click the button above to regenerate another version of this starter from random numbers.

Your access to the majority of the Transum resources continues to be free but you can help support the continued growth of the website by doing your Amazon shopping using the links on this page. Below is an Amazon search box and some items chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics to get you started.

Have you read Craig's book yet?

Craig Barton must surely be the voice of Mathematics teachers in the UK. His wonderful podcasts interviewing the industry experts have culminated in this wonderful book. As Craig says: "I genuinely believe I have never taught mathematics better, and my students have never learned more. I just wish I had known all of this twelve years ago..." more...

"How I wish I’d taught maths' is an extraordinary and important book. Part guide to research, part memoir, part survival handbook, it’s a wonderfully accessible guide to the latest research on teaching mathematics, presented in a disarmingly honest and readable way. I know of no other book that presents as much usable research evidence on the dos and don’ts of mathematics teaching in such a clear and practical way. No matter how long you have been doing it, if you teach mathematics—from primary school to university—this book is for you." Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL.

The Craig Barton Book

Casio Classwiz Calculator

There is currently a lot of talk about this new calculator being the best in its price range for use in the Maths classroom. The new ClassWiz features a high-resolution display making it easier to view numerical formulas and symbols but it isn't a graphical calculator as such (it has the capacity to draw graphs on your smart phone or tablet, via a scannable QR code and an app).

As well as basic spreadsheet mode and an equation solving feature you also get the ability to solve quadratic, cubic or quartic polynomial inequalities and the answer is given just as it should be written down, using the correct inequality symbols!

This calculator has a high-performance processor and twice the memory of previous models ensuring speedy operation and superior computational power.more...

Online Maths Shop

Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers?
Do they have iPads or Laptops in Lessons?

Whether your students each have a TabletPC, a Surface or a Mac, this activity lends itself to eLearning (Engaged Learning).

Laptops In Lessons

Here a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments.

Here is the URL which will take them to a related student activity.

Student Activity


Here is the URL of the Transum Countdown challenge.

Student Activity


©1997-2018 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG