Mathematical literacy (maths lit) teaches you how to apply mathematics to real life situations. It will develop your confidence and ability to think and work with numbers. It will also help you develop problem-solving skills needed for the world of work and everyday situations in your life.

Math lit is taught in everyday language making it easier to understand. For example, you will learn how to use percentages, work out interests rates and read graphs or maps. Mathematics (Maths), on the other hand, is taught in technical and theoretical language, you will learn concepts such as geometry, algebra, trigonometry and quadratic equations.

Maths lit is often thought to be a lower level subject only taken when you struggle with maths. However, this is not true. Maths lit is an entirely different subject to maths.

Mathematical literacy is practical math that teaches you topics such as:

  • How to work out income tax and interest rates
  • Understanding financial documents (e.g. bank statement)
  • Map navigation
  • Understanding statistic results
  • Benefits and risks of having credit and how instalment plans work
  • Reading graphs and statistics

Benefits of mathematical literacy:

  • You will be able to think numerically.
  • You will be able to apply math to everyday situations such as working out costs, distances and time.
  • You become financially aware.
  • You will understand the costs of buying a house, such as transfer and legal fees, bond repayment amounts, etc.
  • You will be informed about the risks of having credit and store cards.
  • You will be able to calculate personal income tax.

Maths, not maths lit, is an important subject needed to get into most programmes and courses at university level. However, getting into university with maths lit is not impossible. You may need to achieve 70-100% to be considered for university acceptance if you have maths lit. With maths lit, you can apply for programmes and courses in faculties such as law, arts and education. For health sciences and engineering, most universities require maths and not maths lit.

If you decide to take maths lit or if it’s the only option your school offers, don’t stress. Mathematical literacy teaches you valuable skills for the workplace, and you still have many options at college and university.