What Is Division With Remainders? Explained For Primary School

Division with remainders, and division more generally, is a key skill in primary school maths. Pupils in Upper Key Stage 2 will be introduced to division calculations with remainders – where there is a certain amount left over. In this article, we will explain division with remainders and provide worked examples, including word problems, to support your teaching of division with remainders to your primary school pupils.

The four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) are a key part of the maths curriculum through primary school. From Year 1 until Year 4, children are only taught division where the answers are exact. In Upper KS2, students will need to be confident working with division problems with remainders.

What is division with remainders?

Division with remainders is a division calculation without an exact answer – the answer will have a particular amount left over.

  • The first number (the amount being divided) is called the dividend;
  • The second number (whatever the dividend is being divided by), is called the divisor;
  • The answer is called the quotient.

In a division calculation with remainders, we therefore say the quotient will have a particular amount left over. This remainder can be expressed as a standard remainder (written as ‘r’ and then the remainder) or a fraction (the remainder becomes the numerator and the divisor becomes the denominator).

For example, with short division (often used when the divisor is a 1-digit number), 432 ÷ 5 = 86r2 (standard remainder) and 496 ÷ 11 = 45 and \frac{1}{11} (fraction remainder). The examples below are taken from the appendix in the maths national curriculum.

short division example from the national curriculum

With long division (often used when the divisors are 2 digit numbers), 432 ÷ 15 can be expressed as 28r12, 28 and \frac{4}{5} or 28.8, as in these national curriculum examples below.

division with remainder worked example from national curriculum
Division Lessons Resource Pack

Division Lessons Resource Pack

This free resource pack includes a series of 4 lessons for Year 5 & 6 pupils, covering simple to long division.

How to work out division with remainders

In a division with remainders, the remainder will always be smaller than the divisor. If it is bigger, an error has been made as this means another ‘group’ could be made out of that remainder.

For example, take 14 ÷ 3. There are 4 groups of 3 in 14 with 2 left over – this is expressed as 4r2. Technically, as in the second example below, this could also be written as 3r5, however we can make another group of the divisor (3) out of the remainder (5), which would then turn it into 4r2 as the original answer.

Likewise, this could also technically be written as 2r8 (although we could make 2 more groups of the divisor from the remainder here) or 1r11 (we could make 3 more groups of the divisor from this remainder), but the original answer of 4r2 is the mathematically correct one.

visual representation of division with remainders

This concept is the same with both the short and long division methods. Remember that the remainder can be expressed in one of three ways.

  • As a remainder (e.g. r1 in the example below)
  • As a fraction (e.g. \frac{1}{5} in the example below – the remainder of 1 becomes the numerator of the fraction and the divisor, 5, becomes the denominator).
short division example with answers expressed as both remainder and fraction
  • As a decimal
Division expressed as a decimal

The method is the same as above but once the division of the ones digit has been completed, add a decimal point and a zero to the end of the dividend to essentially ‘continue’ the division (continue to ensure the place value digits are aligned correctly).

In this case, after calculating that 21 ones divided by 5 is 4 ones with 1 remaining, the 1 remaining ones can be seen as 10 tenths instead. We can then divide 10 tenths by 5, which is 2 tenths, hence the quotient being 134.2.

This is the same as 134r1 or 134 \frac{1}{5} as, when dividing by 5, a remainder of 1 is the same as \frac{1}{5} , which is equivalent to 2 tenths.

If the decimal remainder is longer than one decimal place, continue to add 0s to the dividend until the division is complete or if the decimals continue for a long time, as in the example below of 425 ÷ 7, just round up to the required degree of accuracy – in this case, 60.7 to 1 decimal place (or 60.7143 to 3 decimal places).

Short division with answer in decimals to 5 decimal places

Division problems with a remainder longer than 2 decimal places are unlikely to be asked of children in primary school. However, it is useful to know how to interpret these answers – especially how to round decimal places – as divisions completed on calculators might give answers with many decimal places and children will need to understand what this means.

This process is the same for when you do long division. For example, 9,139 ÷ 21 can be expressed as 435r4, 435 and \frac{4}{21} or 435.19 (rounded to 2 decimal places).

Long division with answer expressed as remainder
Long division with answer expressed as a fraction
Long division example expressed as a decimal

Division with remainders examples

See examples below of short division with remainders expressed in all three ways.

The 3rd example of the four-digit division below is an example of a recurring decimal remainder – in this case, the digit 3 would continue on forever, so it is better to express this remainder as a fraction ( \frac{1}{3} in this case).

The remainder of these long division problems can also be expressed in three different ways (the method is the same even with large numbers as divisors).

When do children learn about division with remainders in school?

The national curriculum states that Year 5 pupils should be taught to divide numbers up to 4 digits by a one-digit number using the formal written method of short division and interpret remainders appropriately for the context.

Year 5 pupils could also (non-statutory guidance) connect equivalent fractions > 1 that simplify to integers with division and other fractions > 1 to division with remainders, using the number line and other models, and hence move from these to improper and mixed fractions.

Year 6 pupils should be taught to divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long and short division, and interpret remainders as whole number remainders, fractions, or by rounding, as appropriate for the context.

How does division with remainders relate to other areas of maths?

In Year 6, as children are required to calculate decimal fraction equivalents for a simple fraction, they may need to complete a division with a decimal remainder. For example, to work out the decimal equivalent of \frac{5}{8} , children would need to divide 5 by 8, which can be made into 5.000 ÷ 8 in this case as the answer (0.625) has 3 decimal places.

Whenever something needs to be shared between two or more groups, division is required, with or without remainders. The suitable ‘type’ of remainder depends on the context of the problem.

‘Standard’ or fraction remainders would be appropriate in contexts where an exact answer is not necessarily required. For example, 267 people need transporting on a coach trip and coaches hold 42 people. 267 ÷ 42 = 6r15, or 6 and \frac{15}{42} , or 6.36 (rounded to 2dp). We can’t have part of a coach, so we would need 7 coaches here (rounding up to the nearest whole number). The decimal remainder would be trickier to interpret (what is 0.36 of a coach?) but the other remainders tell us that there would be 15 people left for the 7th coach whilst the others would be full.

Decimal remainders would be more appropriate in contexts such as money. For example, a £188 bill split between five people is 188 ÷ 5 which is 37r3, or 37 \frac{3}{5} , or 37.6. The decimal remainder here lends itself to a monetary context – in this case, each person would owe £37.60.

third space learning tutoring slide with division with remainder word problems
Example of a Third Space Learning Lesson slide on division with remainders word problems.

Division with remainders worked examples

1. 96 pupils and teachers go by minibus to the sports tournament. How many 15-seater minibuses will be required?

96 ÷ 15 = 6r6 (this could be done with a written division method but in this case it is easier to count in 15s to see how many fit into 96 – 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 = 6 groups). There is a remainder of 6 which means 6 people are left without a coach, so 7 minibuses would be required.

2. Complete the number sentences:

a) 340 ÷ 7 = ___ remainder ___

b) ___ ÷ 3 = 295 remainder 2

a) Use short division to get the answer 48 remainder 4

short division example with remainder

b) As the dividend here is missing, we need to use the inverse to work it out. Imagine the question was __ ÷ 2 = 3 remainder 1. We can work out the dividend by multiplying the divisor by the quotient and adding the remainder: 3 x 2 + 1 = 7, so 7 ÷ 2 = 3 remainder 1. The same method applies here – multiply the divisor (3) by the quotient (295) and add the remainder (2) – this gives us 887, so the answer is 887 ÷ 3 = 295 remainder 2.

3. A grocer is packing eggs. Each box holds 6 eggs. The grocer has 980 eggs to pack. How many boxes can she fill and how many eggs will be left over?

Using short division, we can work out that the grocer can fill 163 boxes and there will be 2 eggs left over.

Short division example with remainder

Division with remainders practice questions

  1. There are 275 children in Blockley School. They get into groups of eight. What is the largest number of groups of eight that they can make?
    Answer: 34 groups
  2. Which two divisions have an answer of 5r2?
    a) 17 ÷ 5
    b) 17 ÷ 3
    c) 22 ÷ 4
    d) 22 ÷ 5
    Answers: b) and c)
  3. Martha wants to buy a toy which costs £18.49. She saves £1.50 per week. How many weeks does she have to save for before she can buy the book?
    Answer: 13 weeks
  4. Write the missing number in each calculation:
    a) 25 ÷___ = 3r4
    b) 35 ÷ ___ = 4r3
    Answers: a) 7; b) 8
  5. A bag has 90 marbles in it. 4 children take 20 marbles each. How many marbles are left in the bag?
    Answer: 10 marbles

Looking for more resources for teaching division? Why not check out our blog all about our Division Worksheets.

For more explanations teaching primary maths topics, see our Primary Maths Dictionary.

How do you answer division with remainders?

Share the full amount into equal groups, as you would complete a normal division. Whatever is left over (and doesn’t fit into an equal group) is the remainder.

How do remainders work in maths?

Remainders are the ‘leftovers’ in a division – when a number has been divided and the answer is not an exact number. These can be expressed as a number, a fraction or a decimal.

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Sophie Bartlett
Sophie Bartlett
Year 6 Teacher
Sophie teaches mixed age classes at a small school in central England. She is a self confessed grammar pedant and number nerd so we've welcomed her as a regular author and editor for Third Space Learning.
Division Lessons Resource Pack

Division Lessons Resource Pack

This free resource pack includes a series of 4 lessons for Year 5 & 6 pupils, covering simple to long division.

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Division Lessons Resource Pack

Downloadable resource

This free resource pack includes a series of 4 lessons for Year 5 & 6 pupils, covering simple to long division.

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