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Bearings

Here we will learn about bearings, including measuring bearings, drawing bearings and calculating bearings.

There are also bearings maths worksheets based on Edexcel, AQA and OCR exam questions, along with further guidance on where to go next if you’re still stuck.

What are bearings?

Bearings are angles, measured clockwise from north.

To measure a bearing, we must first know which direction is north.

This north direction is usually provided in the maths exam question. We then measure the required angle in a clockwise direction. All bearings need to be given in three figures, so if the angle measured is less than 100 degrees, we must start the three-figure bearing with a zero.

Example:

The diagram shows three points A, B and P.

Bearings image 1 1

The angles are measured clockwise from the north line. 

The bearing of A from P is 045^{\circ}

The bearing of B from P is 260^{\circ} .

Bearings are used by sailors and pilots to describe the direction they are travelling. They are also used on land by hikers and the military.

What are bearings?

What are bearings?

How to draw bearings

In order to draw bearings:

  1. Locate the point you are measuring the bearing from and draw a north line if there is not already one given.
  2. Using your protractor, place the zero of the scale on the north line and measure the required angle clockwise, make a mark on your page at the angle needed.
  3. Draw a line from the start point in the direction of the bearing. If you are producing a scale drawing and know the distance to locate a point use this scale appropriately.

Explain how to draw bearings

Explain how to draw bearings

Bearings maths worksheet

Bearings maths worksheet

Bearings maths worksheet

Get your free bearings maths worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

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Bearings maths worksheet

Bearings maths worksheet

Bearings maths worksheet

Get your free bearings maths worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

DOWNLOAD FREE

Bearings maths examples (drawing)

Example 1: drawing a bearing less than 180°

Draw a bearing of 050^{\circ}

  1. Locate the point you are measuring the bearing from and draw a north line if there is not already one given.

Drawing Bearings example 1 step 1 1

2Using your protractor, place the zero of the scale on the north line and measure the required angle clockwise, make a mark on your page at the angle needed.

Drawing Bearings example 1 step 2 1

3Draw a line from the start point in the direction of the bearing. If you are producing a scale drawing and know the distance to locate a point use this scale appropriately.

Drawing Bearings example 1 step 3 1

Example 2: drawing a bearing more than 180°

Draw a bearing of 300^{\circ}

Drawing Bearings example 1 step 1 2

If you have a 180^{\circ} protractor, we need to subtract the bearing required from 360^{\circ}


360^{\circ} - 300^{\circ} = 60^{\circ} , so measure 60^{\circ} anticlockwise


Drawing Bearings example 2 step 2 1

Drawing Bearings example 2 step 3 1

Example 3: drawing a scale drawing with a bearing

Make a scale drawing of a point Q 8 km away from a point P on a bearing of 110^{\circ} from P, using a scale of 1 cm : 2 km.

Drawing Bearings example 3 step 1 1

If the angle is more than 180^{\circ} and you do not have a full circle protractor then you should subtract the required angle from 360^{\circ} , and then measure this angle anticlockwise from the north line.


Drawing Bearings example 3 step 2 1

If the scale is 1cm : 2km , we will need to measure 4 cm to locate Q.


Drawing Bearings example 3 step 3 1

How to calculate bearings

In order to calculate bearings:

  1. Locate the points you are calculating the bearing from and to.
  2. Using the north lines for reference at both points, use angle rules and/or trigonometry to calculate any angles that are required.
  3. Read off the three-figure bearing required.

How to calculate bearings

How to calculate bearings

Bearings maths examples (calculating)

Example 1: calculating a bearing around a point

Calculate the bearing of A from P.

Calculating Bearings example 1 1

Calculating Bearings example 1 step 1 1

We need the angle around the point P clockwise from the north line. We know that angles on a straight line add to 180^{\circ}. 180^{\circ} + 53^{\circ} = 233^{\circ}


Calculating Bearings example 1 step 2 1

The bearing of A from P is 233^{\circ} .

Example 2: calculating a back bearing

The bearing of B from A is 070^{\circ} . Calculate the bearing of A from B.

Calculating Bearings example 2 1

Calculating Bearings example 2 step 1 1

Drawing a north line at B and extending the line from A to B shows us a corresponding angle. If we travel from A to B, we need to turn another 180^{\circ} to return back to A. 180^{\circ} + 70^{\circ} = 250^{\circ}


Calculating Bearings example 2 step 2 1

The bearing of A from B is 250^{\circ} .

Example 3: calculate a bearing using SOHCAHTOA

A ship sails 7 km due east from a point P to point A. It then sails 3 km due south from A to point B. Calculate the bearing of B from P.

Sketch the diagram to help visualise the problem.


Calculating Bearings example 3 step 1 1

Calculating Bearings example 3 step 2 1


Drawing a line from P to B forms a right angled triangle. Use trigonometry to find the angle APB. Then add this to 90^{\circ} .


{{\tan }^{-1}}\left( \frac{3}{7} \right)=23^{\circ} to the nearest degree (bearings are normally given to the nearest degree)


90^{\circ} +23{}^\circ =113^{\circ}

The bearing of B from P is 113^{\circ} .

Common misconceptions

  • Not giving bearings less than 100^{\circ} in three figures

E.g.

A bearing with an angle of 45^{\circ} must be given as 045^{\circ} .

  • Using the anticlockwise angle as the bearing

A common error is to use the anticlockwise angle as the bearing.

E.g.

The bearing of B from A is 080^{\circ} , a common mistake would be to use the co-interior angle as the back bearing of A from B as 100^{\circ} , calculating clockwise, the bearing of A from B should be 260^{\circ} .

Calculating Bearings example Common Misconceptions 1 1

Bearings is part of our series of lessons to support revision on loci and construction. You may find it helpful to start with the main loci and constructions lessons for a summary of what to expect, or use the step by step guides below for further detail on individual topics. Related lessons include:

Practice bearings maths questions

1. Which of the diagrams shows a bearing of 040^{\circ} ?

GCSE Quiz False

GCSE Quiz False

Practice bearing question 1 1

GCSE Quiz True

GCSE Quiz False

Angle should be measured clockwise from north.

2. Which of the diagrams shows a bearing of 290^{\circ} ?

GCSE Quiz False

Practice bearing question 2 1

GCSE Quiz True

GCSE Quiz False

GCSE Quiz False

Angle should be measured clockwise from north.

3. What bearing describes due east?

090^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz True

90^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

270^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

180^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

north is 000^{\circ} , east is 090^{\circ} , west is 270^{\circ} and south is 180^{\circ} .

4. Calculate the bearing of A from P.

 

Practice bearing question 4 1

125^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

055^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

305^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

235^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz True

Angle should be measured clockwise from north, so subtract 125^{\circ} from 360^{\circ} .

5. The bearing of C from B is 130^{\circ} . Calculate the bearing of B from C.

050^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

310^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz True

130^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

230^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False
130^{\circ} + 180^{\circ} = 310^{\circ}

6. A boat sails 8 km north from P to Q and then sails 6 km west from Q to R. Calculate the bearing of R from P. Give your answer to the nearest degree.

037^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

053^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

217^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz False

323^{\circ}
GCSE Quiz True

Sketch a diagram. Angle should be measured clockwise from north, so find the angle QPR using trigonometry and subtract from 360^{\circ} .

 

Practice bearing question 6 1

Bearings maths GCSE questions

1. The bearing of A from B is 215^{\circ} . Find the bearing of B from A.

 

(2 marks)

Show answer

Either 215 – 180 or 360 – 215 = 145 seen

(1)

035^{\circ}

(1)

2. The point C is on a bearing of 065^{\circ} from point A and on a bearing of 310^{\circ} from point B.

 

On the diagram, mark with a (x) the position of point C.

 

Bearings GCSE question 2 1

 

(2 marks)

Show answer

Correct line from A or correct line from B

(1)

Both lines correct and (x) shown

(1)

 

Bearings GCSE question 2 (2) 1

3. The diagram shows the positions of three twins labeled P, Q and R.

Q is on a bearing of 080^{\circ} from P.

R is on a bearing of 132^{\circ} from P.

The distance PQ is 15 km and the distance PR is 14 km.

 

Bearings GCSE question 3 1

 

a) Find the distance QR

 

b) Find the bearing of R from Q

 

(8 marks)

Show answer

a)

 

Angle QPR = 132^{\circ}- 80^{\circ}= 52^{\circ}

(1)

Values substituted into cosine rule QR ^2=15^2+14^2-2 \times 15 \times 14 \times \cos 52

(1)

QR = 12.74 km

(1)

 

b)

 

Use of sine rule \frac{\sin{52}}{12.74}=\frac{\sin{PQR}}{14}

(1)

Angle PQR = 59.96^{\circ}

(1)

Angle of 100^{\circ} anticlockwise from north line at Q

(1)

360-100-59.96

(1)

Answer of 200^{\circ}

(1)

Learning checklist

You have now learned how to:

  • Measure line segments and angles in geometric figures, including interpreting maps and scale drawings and use of bearings

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