Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Leslie:

To simplify improper fractions, do you convert it to a mixed number or leave as an improper fraction?

My daughter had a quiz in which she was supposed to simplify her answers. So, for example, on one question the answer she got was 11/10 and on another question she came up with 17/12. The teacher marked these as incorrect because they were mixed numbers. Her teacher wrote on her paper, "**name**, I even gave this back to you and told you to go through and simplify your answers!" We (her father and I) feel that the teacher wanted her to convert her answers, not simplify them but I haven't been able to find a definitive answer online. So, does simplifying improper fractions mean converting them to mixed numbers? Thank you for your help!

Hi Leslie,

Simplify or put in simplest form have no universal definition. I am not surprised that you were unable to find a definite answer online. I know that people who write mathematical software struggle with how to leave a final expression so that it is in its simplest form. Your daughter's teacher and perhaps her textbook expect improper fractions to be written as mixed numbers.

I hope this helps,

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