Click to expand:
• What's the difference between MATHSprint and MATHSprintPLUS?
MATHSprint covers KS3 and KS4 topics up to GCSE/IGCSE level (ages 11-16) while MATHSprintPLUS covers KS5 A Level topics only (ages 16-19). We have created two separate versions because we appreciate that not all schools or tutors cater for the entire age range from 11 to 19.
• Is MATHSprint an online service? Do I need an internet connection?
No. MATHSprint is a Windows program that you download and run on your own PC or network. No internet connection is required after the initial download. You can even run MATHSprint off a USB memory stick on any Windows computer or interactive whiteboard.
• Is it 'MATHS print' or 'MATH Sprint'?
A transatlantic superposition of states, let us say - no need to collapse the wave function, is there?
Both are apposite; it's a program that generates printable worksheets and does so rapidly.
• Is MATHSprint really inexhaustible?
Yes, in the practical sense that you will never run out of questions. The number of possible different worksheets is certainly too large to fit on a standard scientific calculator and the time taken to complete them all would hugely exceed the lifetime of the Universe.
MATHSprint will generate a randomised pdf worksheet from a template file in around one second (unless the worksheet is soul-destroyingly long...). Even if you are starting from scratch, you can compile and create a customised worksheet in well under a minute. I often make example questions 'on the fly' during a lesson and project them onto the whiteboard.
• What about 'indispensable'?
Well, my colleagues who have gained promotion to other schools have asked for a copy of MATHSprint, and when it was inadvertently uninstalled from our network there was a major outcry. We all use it on a regular basis, and we now dread the thought of having to compile and typeset all those equations/diagrams by hand, or else digging out an old worksheet that is not quite suitable but which will 'have to do'.
• But surely there's more to life than worksheets...
Undoubtedly! MATHSprint 'will only help as part of a calorie controlled diet', so to speak. It is no substitute for inspirational teaching, illuminating classroom discussions or enriching investigative activities. Indeed, I am quite a fan of a book I bought which is rather damningly entitled 'Mathematics Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Numeracy Strategies That Engage the Brain'.
But Maths is not a spectator sport. The way to get good at Maths is to get lots of practice, and this is where MATHSprint can help. Textbooks have only a limited number of questions on any given topic. Manually creating revision practice sheets that cover several different areas of the course involves hard slog on the computer or else cut-and-pasted photocopies of dubious legality. And the idea of making personalised remediation exercises for each student by hand? Forget it!
Unless you have MATHSprint to hand, when you'll be able to produce any of the above resources in minutes, with no scissors, glue or copyright issues.
Furthermore, with MATHSprint you can immediately email work to absent students. You can project questions onto the whiteboard to use as worked examples or for class practice, thus saving paper. You can even give different sets of questions on the same topics to students working in pairs, who then immediately discuss solution methods rather than simply comparing answers. We think it's rather good, but we'd better let you make up your own mind.
• How much does MATHSprint cost?
Click here to see our current prices for annual and permanent licences.
• What about printing costs?
It is quite possible to project questions and solutions onto a whiteboard in class and then publish homework questions on your Intranet or VLE, thereby minimising printing costs for your institution.
If you print hard copies of worksheets, the cost per double-sided sheet is of the order of one penny (based on typical A4 paper costs and using a printer with low running costs such as a Kyocera Mita model). The large amount of white space on these worksheets means that the percentage ink coverage is very low, keeping your costs down.
Furthermore, the fact that MATHSprint can combine diverse topics within the same worksheet can save you money by reducing the need for several separate worksheets (on Number, Algebra, Shape and Space, etc.) when preparing for examinations.
MATHSprint will work with any computer running Windows 7 or later. This includes Windows 8 and Windows 10 but not Linux or Mac operating systems.
An Internet connection is not required to run MATHSprint; for installation purposes you can download the software from this website and then transfer it on a USB stick. A printer is not necessary either; you can produce pdf files and then display them on the screen, a whiteboard, email them or put them on your Intranet/VLE. Make sure you have installed Adobe Acrobat Reader if you wish to view pdf files.
NB if you get an error message "The application failed to initialize properly (0x00000135)", you need to install
.NET Framework 4.6 on your machine before MATHSprintDemo will run. You can download it for free from www.microsoft.com.
• Installing the MATHSprint or MATHSprintPLUS demo
Download MATHSprint(PLUS)Demo.exe from this website and save/copy into 'My Documents' or your Departmental area on the network.
You can then run MATHSprint by double-clicking on MATHSprint(PLUS)Demo.exe (you can also place a short cut on the Desktop).
NB You don't need Administrator privileges to install the software.
• Installing the full version of MATHSprint or MATHSprintPLUS
Download MATHSprint(PLUS)5_0.exe from the link provided with your invoice (you will also need the supplied username and password).
No unpacking or special installation process is required - MATHSprint is a standalone .exe file.
Save/copy MATHSprint(PLUS)5_0.exe to a suitable location on your computer or network and make a desktop short cut if desired.
The first time MATHSprint is run, the user must have write access to the folder in which the .exe file is located (to set up the help file and licence code which should be entered at this point).
MATHSprint creates and saves pdf worksheets as well as worksheet template files and these are stored in the same folder as the .exe file by default. If you wish to store these files elsewhere (e.g. the user's personal area), create a file userpath.txt alongside the .exe file containing the path name of the desired location for saving user files.
• Upgrading a previous version of MATHSprint to V5.0
Download MATHSprint5_0.exe from the link provided with your invoice (you will also need the supplied username and password).
Simply save/copy MATHSprint5_0.exe in the same location as your previous version; the licence code will continue to work. However, you may need to update any short cuts.
If you decide to save/copy MATHSprint5_0.exe to a new location, you will have to re-enter your licence code (see the previous entry).
• What happened to MATHSprint V4.0?
MATHSprint V4.0 was released for the Australian and New Zealand market only.
If you get the message 'Can't print worksheet; it is locked by another program.', this probably means that the user does not have write access to the folder where MATHSprint is installed.
MATHSprint creates and saves pdf worksheets as well as worksheet template files and these are stored in the same folder as the .exe file by default. If you wish to store these files elsewhere (e.g. the user's personal area), create a file userpath.txt alongside the .exe file containing the path name (e.g. P:) of the desired location for saving user files.
If you have any other problems installing or running MATHSprint, please.
• What's next for MATHSprint?
We are actively developing and expanding MATHSprint and especially MATHSprintPLUS in response to feedback from schools. If there's a topic you'd like to see included, simplyand we'll do our very best to help. We have plenty of ideas of our own, too, so watch this space...
You can of course download any future updates for free throughout the validity of your licence.
• Can tutors and parents buy MATHSprint?
Yes! You are welcome to buy a licence via PayPal.
• Can non-UK schools buy MATHSprint?
Yes, of course! We publish versions for Australian and New Zealand schools.
For other countries, there will be a significant overlap with your syllabus, but do check which topics are relevant to your course.
Please use the PayPal payment option when ordering.
• How to write a worksheet generator
"The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance." (Robert R. Coveyou)
One fundamental problem with most simple maths worksheet generators is that they use random numbers directly to generate the values used in questions, and thus it is quite possible to have the same question occur twice in the same exercise, or even twice in a row. Anyone who has ever set up a spreadsheet to produce randomised worksheets will be familiar with this problem.
A better solution is to shuffle a list of possible values and then use them one by one. This ensures that repetitions are minimised and that there is a fair spread of questions (important if you are testing particular multiplication tables, for instance). Things then get more complicated if we wish to guard against 4x+7x being followed by 7x+4x, etc.
It is also important to generate questions that are not too easy and not too hard, and this cannot simply be left to chance. Sets of candidate numbers must be chosen with care: we want abundant numbers if it's a 'list all the factors' question, but prime denominators for simple addition of fractions without cancelling down.
Another possible pitfall concerns the presentation of questions; lazy programming leads to worksheets with questions like y=1x-4, or even worse, y=0x-4. This mistake is fairly straightforward to fix, but if you intend to generate, say, algebraic fraction problems correctly you will end up writing your own symbolic algebra manipulation code to find common denominators, expand brackets, factorise, cancel down, etc., and then display the result according to the usual conventions of printing mathematics.
Graphics bring another level of complexity. Trigonometrical questions need to be designed so that the diagrams are nearly - but not quite - to scale so that students do not simply measure angles off the diagram rather than using the correct method. Nor do we want a set of identically-oriented diagrams; instead, throw in some rotations and reflections before printing the triangles (but don't rotate or reflect the text labelling them...) and make sure that they still fit on the page.
This starts to give some idea of why a good Maths worksheet generator is hard to develop. I have devoted fifteen years of my spare time to this project; it has proved fascinating in terms of the challenges to be overcome (as hinted at above) and I have learned a huge amount about the mathematics of generating mathematical problems and displaying their solutions. I hope you enjoy using MATHSprint, and please feel free to feed back any comments and suggestions.
Tim Price, September 2019