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What Is Bus Stop Method: Explained for Primary School

The bus stop method of division is taught when children are in KS2.

What is the bus stop method?

Bus stop method for division is a formal written method named after its ‘bus stop’ appearance. The dividend (number being divided) is inside the ‘bus stop’; the divisor (what the dividend is being divided by) is outside the ‘bus stop’; and the quotient (the answer, or how many times the divisor fits into the dividend) is on top of the ‘bus stop’.

The bus stop method of division step by step

bus stop method long division

Let’s take the example 98 ÷ 7, such as the first example in the National Curriculum Appendix below. Unlike the formal methods of addition, subtraction and multiplication where the procedure begins from the smallest place value (the right), here we begin at the largest place value (the left). 

  1. Starting on the left we divide 9 tens by 7 tens. 
  2. 7 tens goes into 9 tens once with 2 tens left over, so we place a 1 on top (which is the first digit of the quotient)
  3. Next we regroup the 2 tens into 20 ones and alongside the 8 ones, this now becomes 28 ones. 
  4. Finally, 28 ones (or just 28) ÷ 7 ones is 4, so 4 becomes the last digit of the quotient.
  5. Therefore, our answer is 14.

Examples of bus stop method in action

The National Curriculum Appendix 1 demonstrates examples of division calculations using the bus stop method. Short division is a compacted version of long division, but it is still the same mathematical process. It is generally used when the divisor is a 1-digit number. The bus stop method is often used for two and three-digit numbers. 

two and three digit examples of bus stop method long division

3 Long Division Worksheets for Year 3-6 Classes

Download free, printable division worksheets on the bus stop method. This learning resource contains a variety of questions suitable for years 3-6 to practise applying the bus stop method.

Bus stop method division with remainders

Bus stop divisions with remainders can be expressed in three ways as demonstrated in the long divisions above:

  • a simple remainder 
  • a fraction
  • a decimal

The first two long divisions shown are examples of a method informally known as ‘chunking’. 

The long division method is generally used when the divisor is a 2-digit number (and when the dividend is a 3-digit number or higher). 

The third example in the top row above demonstrates dividing by a 2-digit number, 11, using the short division method. This is because the multiples of this divisor (the 11 times table) are relatively simple to calculate.

long division slide with questions
A slide from Third Space Learning’s online tuition, teaching long division using the bus stop method (also known as standard method).

When do children learn about the bus stop method in the national curriculum?

The formal method of division (informally known as the bus stop method) isn’t officially introduced until Year 5, but it is mentioned in the non-statutory guidance of the National Curriculum in Lower KS2:

  • In Year 3, “pupils develop reliable written methods for multiplication and division, starting with calculations of two-digit numbers by one-digit numbers and progressing to the formal written methods of short multiplication and division”.
  • In Year 4, “pupils practise to become fluent in the formal written method of short multiplication and short division with exact answers”.

Year 5:

  • 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 6:

  • divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long division, and interpret remainders as whole number remainders, fractions, or by rounding, as appropriate for the context
  • divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit number using the formal written method of short division where appropriate, interpreting remainders according to the context

How does the bus stop method of division relate to other areas of maths?

Children will often come across division problems that may also involve one of the other four operations – these are called multi-step problems, as they require the children to complete more than one mathematical process to solve them. 

The bus stop method may be useful in these situations, particularly where large numbers are involved. Whilst the concept of division will be encountered in many other areas of maths (such as fractions), the bus stop method itself will only be explicitly taught – and possibly only required – during a division topic.

The bus stop method of division in real life

When sharing or grouping larger numbers than could be calculated mentally, the bus stop method may be useful (e.g. £41,267 shared between 7 people).

6 bus stop method practice questions and answers

  1. 1,645 ÷ 7
    Answer: 235
  2. 3,170 ÷ __ = 5
    Answer: 634
  3. 3,312 ÷ 92
    Answer: 36
  4. A farmer is packing eggs. Each box holds six eggs. The farmer has 980 eggs to pack. How many boxes can the farmer fill using 980 eggs? How many eggs will be left over? (2018 SATs)
    Answer: 163 boxes and 2 left over
  5. A box contains 2.6 kg of washing powder. Jack uses 65 grams of powder for each wash. He uses all the powder. How many washes did Jack do? (2018 SATs)
    Answer: 40
  6. A group of friends earns £80 by washing cars. They share the money equally. They get £16 each. How many friends are in the group? (2017 SATs)
    Answer: 5
How do you do the bus stop method?

Start at the biggest place value – in this case, 9 tens. Start with calculating how many lots of 7 tens go into 9 tens – the answer is 1 with 2 remaining, so the 1 goes above the 9 and the 2 goes before the 8. The two represents 2 tens and the 8 represents 8 ones, so this number is now 28. Finally calculate how many lots of 7 go into 28 – the answer is 4, so the 4 goes above the 8. Read more about how to teach division to kids.

Is long division the same as the bus stop method?

Yes long division using the formal written method of long division is the same as the bus stop method. 

For more discussion on teaching primary school maths topics, take a look at Third Space Learning’s Primary Maths Dictionary.

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Sophie Bartlett
Sophie Bartlett
Year 6 Teacher
Sophie is a grammar pedant, author and editor for Third Space as well as teaching in a small school in England.
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Downloadable resource

3 Long Division Worksheets for Year 3-6 Classes

Download free, printable division worksheets on the bus stop method. This learning resource contains a variety of questions suitable for years 3-6 to practise applying the bus stop method.

Download Free Now!

3 Long Division Worksheets for Year 3-6 Classes

Downloadable resource

Download free, printable division worksheets on the bus stop method. This learning resource contains a variety of questions suitable for years 3-6 to practise applying the bus stop method.

Download Free Now!