Transum Software

Exam-Style Questions on Probability

Problems on Probability adapted from questions set in previous Mathematics exams.


GCSE Higher

There are only crayons in a pencil case and the crayons are either orange, purple or brown.

The table shows the probability of taking at random a brown crayon from the pencil case.

Probability:  0.4

The number of orange crayons in the pencil case is the same as the number of purple crayons.

(a) Complete the table.

There are 20 brown crayons in the pencil case.

(b) Work out the total number of crayons in the pencil case.


GCSE Higher

The following table shows the probabilities of winning certain prizes at a stall in Faulton Towers theme park. A prize is always given for every turn.

Prize Pencil CalculatorTeddy Bear Ball Protractor

In the last year Simon has had 200 turns receiving 200 prizes.

Work out an estimate for the total number of times he has won either a pencil or a protractor.


GCSE Higher

Derren thinks he is a mind reader and can tell what Paige is thinking. An experiment was conducted to test this.

Derren and Paige sit either side of a screen and Paige rolls a six-sided fair dice. Paige then thinks about the number on the dice while Derren tries to predict this number.

(a) In 900 attempts, how many correct predictions would you expect Derren to make if he was just guessing?

The results of the first 15 attempts are shown in the table:

Paige's Number 4 6 3 3 3 2 2 2 3 1 1 5 1 1 2
Derren's Guess 1 2 2 4 2 2 1 4 2 4 2 6 1 2 2
Guess Correct

(b) Estimate the probability of getting a matching pair using the results of the last five guesses.

(c) Estimate the probability of getting a matching pair using all 15 results.

(d) Use this information to comment on Derren’s belief that he knows what Paige is thinking.


GCSE Higher

At the Trantown annual Fayre there are a number of different sideshows designed to raise money for cancer research. Roger is looking after two of these, the lucky dip and the raffle.

(a) At the lucky dip it costs £1 to enter and everyone wins one of three different types of prize.

Calculate the value of \(x\).


(b) Roger is offering a free raffle ticket for every raffle ticket purchased. He tells people that this doubles their chances of winning. Is he correct?


GCSE Higher

The table shows the shoe sizes of 35 male teachers.

Shoe size Number of teachers
7 4
8 6
9 10
10 12
11 3

Eight of the 35 teachers do not wear socks.

Ralph thinks that if you choose at random one of the 35 teachers, the probability that he either does not wear socks or wears the median shoe size is \( \frac{17}{35} \) because:

$$ \frac{8}{35} + \frac{9}{35} = \frac{17}{35} $$

Is Ralph correct? Give a reason for your answer.


GCSE Higher

(a) There are 24 people at a Football Club supporters' meeting in Dudley. Thirteen of them are female.


First chosen                         Second chosen

Tracey draws the tree diagram above to show how two people could be chosen from the meeting at random. What is wrong with the probabilities shown on the diagram?

(b) Aynuk and Ayli play for Dudley Casuals Football Club. The probabilities that they will score a goal in the next match are 0.2 and 0.35 respectively.

The manager thinks that the probability that both players will score a goal in the next match is 0.2 + 0.35. Is the manager correct? Give reasons for your answer.


GCSE Higher

Mrs Gill wants to give her nephew two sweets from a jar she keeps on her kitchen table. There are 11 sweets in this jar.

Calculate the probability that Mrs Gill will take a sweet of each colour if she takes two sweets randomly from the jar.

Show all of your working.


GCSE Higher

Aran, Betsy and Connor collect data about which way up a drawing pin will land if dropped from a fixed height. Here are their results.

  Pin up Pin down Total
Aran 24 33 57
Betsy 22 33 55
Connor 86 102 188

Aran thinks "As a drawing pin can only land with its pin up or with its pin down so the probability of a drawing pin landing pin up is 0.5"

(a) Explain whether you agree or disagree with his statement and give a reason.

(b) Connor's results give the best estimate of the probability of a pin landing pin up. Explain why.

(c) Two pins are dropped. Estimate the probability that both pins land pin down.


GCSE Higher

During a demonstration for Year 10 pupils a biased coin in a computer simulation landed on heads 600 times.

The relative frequency of heads was 0.3

Work out the number of times the coin landed on tails during that demonstration.


GCSE Higher

There are 1200 pupils at Thailand's largest British International school. 690 of these pupils are girls.

The probability that a boy chosen at random buys lunch from the school canteen is \( \frac{4}{5} \).

The probability that a girl chosen at random buys lunch from the school canteen is \( \frac{2}{3} \).

(a) Work out the number of students in the school who buy lunch from the school canteen.

(b) Work out the probability that a student chosen at random from the whole school does not buy lunch from the school canteen.


IGCSE Extended

For this question, give all your answers as fractions.


The letters of the word SUMMER are printed on 6 cards.

(a) A card is chosen at random. Write down the probability that it has the letter R printed on it.

(b) Find the probability that the card chosen at random does not have the letter M printed on it.

(c) Find the probability that the letter printed on the card chosen at random has no lines of symmetry.

(d) Chris chooses a card at random, replaces it, then chooses a card again. Calculate the probability that only one of the cards she chooses has the letter M printed on it.

(e) Graham chooses a card at random and does not replace it. He continues until he chooses a card with the letter M printed on it. Find the probability that this happens when he chooses the 3rd card.


GCSE Higher

The Venn diagram represents a collection of 40 books on sale in an online store.

P represents the books available in paperback format.

D represents the books available in digital format.

Venn Diagram

(a) One book from the collection is picked at random. Work out the probability that the book is available in digital format.

(b) One of the books that is available in paperback format is picked at random. Work out the probability that this book is also available in digital format.


GCSE Higher

A box contains only green and yellow crayons.

Luka takes one crayon at random from the box. The probability that she takes a green crayon is \(\frac16\).

Luka returns the crayon to the bag and adds four more green crayons to the box. The probability that she takes one green crayon at random is now \(\frac14\).

How many crayons of each colour were originally in the box?


GCSE Higher

Lisa's nephew Sean has two boxes containing plastic building bricks.

A red box contains 5 green bricks and 10 yellow bricks.

A blue box contains 8 green bricks and 16 yellow bricks.

Lisa picks a brick at random from the red box and puts it into the blue box.

Sean now picks a brick at random from the blue box. Show that:

P(Lisa picks a green brick) = P(Sean picks a green brick)


IB Studies

Neal is attending a Scout jamboree in Japan. He has both boots and trainers to wear. He also has the choice of wearing a cap or not.

The probability Neal wears boots is 0.4. If he wears boots, the probability that he wears a cap is 0.7.

If Neal wears trainers, the probability that he wears a cap is 0.25.

The following tree diagram shows the probabilities for Neal's clothing options at the jamboree.

Tree Diagram

(a) Find the value of A.

(b) Find the value of B.

(c) Find the value of C.

(d) Calculate the probability that Neal wears trainers and no cap.

(e) Calculate the probability that Neal wears no cap.

(f) Calculate the probability that Neal wears trainers given that he is not wearing a cap.

(g) Calculate the probability that Neal wears boots on the first two days of the jamboree.

(h) Calculate the probability that Neal wears boots on one of the first two days, and trainers on the other.


GCSE Higher

Percy throws a fair dice until he gets a five.

Dice Faces

(a) Work out the probability that Percy gets the five on his first throw.

(b) Find the probability that he has to throw the dice exactly twice to get the five.

(c) Calculate the probability that he will have the throw the dice more than twice to get a five.


GCSE Higher

Donna is in a class of 25 students, 5 of whom have a pet dog.

There are 2200 students in the school.

(a) Use this information to estimate how many students in the school have pet dogs.


(b) Luka is at a different school.

She is in a class of 28 students, 7 of whom have pet dogs.

Luka and Donna have an idea. They think "In our two classes there are 53 students, 12 of whom have a pet dog. We can use this bigger sample to improve the estimate for Donna's school."

What assumption have they made?

(c) Use this idea to estimate how many students in Donna's school have pet dogs.


IB Standard

Let \(J\) and \(T\) be independent events, where \(P(J)=0.4\) and \(P(T)=0.7\).

(a) Find \(P(J\cap T)\).

(b) Find \(P(J\cup T)\).

(c) Draw a two-set Venn diagram and shade the region that represents \(J\cap T'\).

(d) Find \(P(J\cap T')\).


GCSE Higher
Hannah's sweets

On the day after one GCSE paper Twitter and the media were buzzing with comments about a particular question about Hannah's sweets. Here is the Transum version of this now famous Maths exam question:

Hannah has 6 orange sweets and some yellow sweets.

Overall, she has \(n\) sweets.

The probability of her taking 2 orange sweets is \(\frac13\).

Prove that: \(n^2-n-90=0\)

Hence or otherwise find \(n\).


GCSE Higher

When the arrow is spun once on this spinner, a 1 or a 2 or a 3 can be scored depending on the colour the arrow lands on.

Aimee is going to spin the arrow twice. She will work out her total score by adding the two scores she gets on the two spins. The probability that she will get a total score of 4 is \(\frac{7}{25}\)

Find the value of \(x\).


GCSE Higher

A bag contains balls that are red, blue, green or yellow.

A counter is chosen at random. The probability it is green is \( \frac{7}{52} \)

Work out the probability it is red.


GCSE Higher

There are \(x\) left shoes and 7 right shoes in a dark cupboard.

Harper takes at random two shoes from the cupboard.

The probability that Harper takes one left shoe and one right shoe is \(\frac{7}{13}\)

(a) Show that \(x^2-13x+42= 0\)

(b) Find the probability that Harper takes two right shoes.


IB Analysis and Approaches

Let A and B be events such that \(P (A) = 0.45\) , \(P (B) = 0.35\) and \(P (A \cup B) = 0.5\).

Find \(P (A \mid B) \).


IB Standard

Piers wins one of the many prizes on offer in the school raffle but he does not yet know exactly what the prize is.

Find the probability that the prize Piers wins is not both something to eat and worth more than $10 as Piers does not like expensive food.


IB Standard

The Venn diagram below shows the events \(A\) and \(B\), and the probabilities p, q and r.

It is known that \({\rm{P}}(A) = 0.43\) , \({\rm{P}}(B) = 0.62\) and \({\rm{P}}(A \cap B) = 0.27\) .

Venn Diagram

(a) Calculate the value of p.

(b) Calculate the value of q.

(c) Calculate the value of r.

(d) Find the value of \({\rm{P}}(A|B')\)

(e) Hence, or otherwise, show that the events \(A\) and \(B\) are not independent.


IB Standard

A game at a fayre consists of a players throwing one dart at the board pictured below.

Dart Board

The probability of hitting each region and the points scored for hitting that region is given in this table.


(a) Find the probability that the dart does not hit the board.

The player scores points as shown in the table above but they lose 20 points if they miss the board completely.

(b) Given that the game is a fair game, find the value of \(x\), the number of points awarded for hitting the B region of the board.


IB Studies

Julie chooses a cake from a yellow box on a shelf. The box contains two chocolate cakes and three plain cakes. She eats the cake and chooses another one from the box. The tree diagram below represents the situation with the four possible outcomes where C stands for chocolate cake and P for plain cake.

(a) Write down the value of \(x\).

(b) Write down the value of \(y\).

(c) Find the probability that both cakes are plain.

On another shelf there are two boxes, one red and one green. The red box contains four chocolate cakes and five plain cakes and the green box contains three chocolate cakes and four plain cakes. Ben randomly chooses either the red or the green box and randomly selects a cake.

(d) Copy and complete the tree diagram below.

(e) Find the probability that he chooses a chocolate cake.

(f) Find the probability that he chooses a cake from the red box given that it is a chocolate cake.


IB Standard

Jane and David play two games of golf. The probability that Jane wins the first game is \(\frac56\). If Jane wins the first game, the probability that she wins the second game is \(\frac67\).

If Jane loses the first game, the probability that she wins the second game is \(\frac34\)

(a) Copy and complete the following tree diagram.

(b) Find the probability that Jane wins the first game and David wins the second game.

(c) Find the probability that David wins at least one game.

(d) Given that David wins at least one game, find the probability that he wins both games.


IB Standard

A random variable \(R\) has the probability distribution as shown in the following table:

\(r\) 1 2 3 4 5
\(P(R=r)\) 0.2  a   b  0.25 0.15

(a) Given that \(E(R) = 2.85\) find \(a\) and \(b\).

(b) Find \( P(R \gt 2 )\).


IB Analysis and Approaches

Amelia selects a disc from a bag containing 5 green discs, 4 blue discs and 3 red discs.

She wins £1 for a green disc, £3 for a blue disc, and £7 for a red disk. The game costs £4 to play.

(a) Calculate the expected gain for this game, and hence show that the game is not fair.

After a while, \(n\) red discs are added and Amelia wins £5 if she selects one. The game is now fair.

(b) Create an equation to represent this information.

(c) Hence, calculate the value of \(n\).


IB Applications and Interpretation

A game is played with a biased five-sided spinner. The possible scores, \(X\) and their probabilities are shown in the following table.

Score \(x\) -5 -1 0 2 10
\(P(X=x)\) 0.2 p 0.3 0.3 0.1

(a) Find the exact value of p.

Jaedee plays the game once.

(b) Calculate the expected score.

Jaedee plays the game twice and adds the two scores together.

(c) Find the probability Jaedee has a total score of 10.


IB Standard

A famous pole vaulter finds that she is successful on 85% of her attempts at clearing five metres. Her Wikipedia entry confirms that her success rate is 85%.

Woman Pole Vaulting

A field sports day event consists of 12 five-metre vaults.

a) Find the probability that she is successful on all 12 attempts.

b) Find the probability that she is successful on at least 8 attempts.

She can earn £50 in prize money for every successful vault

c) What can she expect her winnings to be in a one day event?

The probability that another vaulter is successful at clearing five metres 3 times out of 12 is 0.166.

d) What are the possible value(s) of his success rate?


IB Standard

Two events A and B are such that \(P(A) = 0.57\) and \(P (A \cap B) = 0.21\).

(a) Find \(P (A \cap B' ) \).

(b) Given that \(P((A \cup B)') = 0.17 \), find \(P(A|B')\).


IB Standard

The length of Costlow's bâtard bread loaves in centimetres is normally distributed with mean \( \mu \). The following table shows probabilities for values of \(L\).

Length (\(L\)) \(L \lt 30\) \(30 \le L \le 42\) \(L \gt 42\)
P(X) 0.07 0.86 \(k\)

(a) Calculate the value of \(k\).

(b) Show that \( \mu \) = 36.

(c) Find P(\(L \gt 39\)).

The loaves are displayed in baskets of twelve. Any loaves with a length less than 31cm are classified as short.

(d) Find the probability that a basket of loaves selected at random contains at most one loaf that is short.

(e) Each Costlow supermarket has 40 baskets of loaves. One of the Costlow supermarkets is selected at random. Find the expected number of baskets in this supermarket that contain at most one loaf that is too short.

(f) Find the probability that at least 28 baskets in this supermarket contain at most one loaf that is too short.

Batard Bread

The exam-style questions appearing on this site are based on those set in previous examinations (or sample assessment papers for future examinations) by the major examination boards. The wording, diagrams and figures used in these questions have been changed from the originals so that students can have fresh, relevant problem solving practice even if they have previously worked through the related exam paper.

The solutions to the questions on this website are only available to those who have a Transum Subscription.


Exam-Style Questions Main Page


Search for exam-style questions containing a particular word or phrase:

To search the entire Transum website use the search box in the grey area below.


Do you have any comments about these exam-style questions? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for those learning Mathematics anywhere in the world. Click here to enter your comments.


©1997-2020 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG