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GCSE Maths Handling Data Coursework - Comparing Newspapers

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GCSE Maths Handling Data Coursework – Comparing Newspapers


‘The Times’ newspaper is universally accepted as Britain’s national newspaper. I have been asked to investigate the concerns of the editor that the sales are lower in comparison with the tabloids. I am going to investigate the lengths of the words, how many words there are in a sentence and the reading age if those who read the newspapers.

Hypothesis 1

I hypothesise that the world length for the broadsheet newspapers will be higher than that of the tabloid newspapers.

Broadsheet newspapers have longer words than the tabloid papers on average, because they are aimed at an older, more intelligent audience. In addition, broadsheets have longer articles and more statistics, graphs etc. This may attract the attention of a more intellectual audience.

Hypothesis 2

I hypothesise that the number of words in a sentence will be higher in the broadsheet newspapers than in the tabloid newspapers.

Broadsheet newspapers have a more complex sentence structure than the tabloid papers; this made me predict that words in a sentence would be higher in a broadsheet.

Hypothesis 3

I hypothesise that the reading age for readers of broadsheet newspapers will be higher than that of readers of tabloid newspapers.

Broadsheets are aimed at a higher reading age because of all the reasons above in the hypotheses.


Firstly, I am going to collect four newspapers from the same day, two tabloids and two broadsheets. The tabloids I am going to use are ‘The Sun’ and ‘The Daily Mirror’; the broadsheets I am going to use are ‘The Times’ and ‘The Daily Telegraph’.

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After doing all this, I will use my mathematical skills which I will discuss later.

For my second hypothesis, I am going to use a different article using the same calculator process used for my first hypothesis. When I have located the article, I will choose 20 sentences for the same reason as the 100 words. I am also going to exclude numbers, people’s names and quotes. However, I am going to include words like can’t and hyphenated words, again for all the reasons mentioned previously.

To fulfil the terms of my third and final hypothesis I am going to use the Gunning ‘FOG’ Readability Test, this is because it is the best to use for secondary and older primary age groups, which the readers of the four newspapers I am investigating are more likely to be. The Gunning ‘FOG’ Test can be done with a simple formula, which is:

[(L+N) x 0.4] + 5 years

 L being the average sentence length and N being the number of words with three or more syllables from a 100-word sample. The average sentence length will be worked out from the sample taken to find out the word length. Then I will count the number of words with three or more syllables thus completing the formula.

The maths – the most important bit

Lets say I’ve got all the data needed, the word length, the words per sentence, everything, now all I need to do now is analyse the data and compare them. Using maths.

I will say what maths I’m going to do for the word length firstly, then for the words per sentence.

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‘The Daily Telegraph’ is more to the right than ‘The Sun’ and both of their lower quartiles nearly meet. The medians are a long way apart from each other and it is evident from the box plot that ‘The Daily Telegraph’ had much more WPS. In addition, the highest WPS is in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ although this is not necessarily an accurate finding. ‘The Daily Mirror’ and the ‘The Times’ are very similar to each other, they both have the exact lower quartile and their medians are very close together. The right hand box of ‘The Daily Mirror’ is considerably bigger than ‘The Times’. The highest value belongs to ‘The Times’. ‘The Times’ did better because of the size of the right hand box and because of the highest value. In conclusion, the broadsheet’s box plots did much better than the tabloids box plots.

The reading age for ‘The Times’ was 15.2 years and ‘The Daily Telegraph’ was 19.3 years. ‘The Sun’ is 12.67 and ‘The Daily Mirror’ is 14.79. The reading ages for readers of broadsheet newspapers are relatively high especially ‘The Daily Telegraph’ and my predictions were correct.


According to my results, my first hypothesis is incorrect, my second hypothesis was correct and so was my last hypothesis.


I could have improved my investigation in a number of ways, I could have used more samples and picked more random samples, this would have made my results as accurate as possible, the more you use – the more accurate you are. I could also have selected more newspapers. I also could have used more ‘FOG’ and ‘SMOG’ tests as this may have helped me with my investigation. I could also have compared further results and conducted further mathematics if I had been given time.

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