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Understand and Read Bearings

In this worksheet, students will practise reading and finding bearings.

'Understand and Read Bearings' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Year:  GCSE

GCSE Subjects:   Maths

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Eduqas, Pearson Edexcel, OCR,

Curriculum topic:   Geometry and Measures, Mensuration

Curriculum subtopic:   Mensuration and Calculation Units and Measurement

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

Imagine you are walking in a field being given instructions over a radio. You are told to turn 40° and walk forwards.

How do you know you are going the correct way? Did you turn 40° clockwise or anticlockwise?

While this scenario might sound false, this situation comes up a lot in navigation.


How do we solve this problem?

To solve this, we use bearings.

Bearings are a way of defining an angle in a precise way that avoids confusion.


The three rules of bearings:

1) Bearings are always measured from north  - that is directly up on a map.

2) Bearings are always measured clockwise.

3) Bearings are always written with 3 figures i.e. 40° would be written as 040°



Point A is on a bearing of 043° from point B. What is the bearing of B from A?


This is best if you sketch it out first:


A bearing of 43 degrees

It's important to put A and B in the correct place. The question states that the bearing is from B - this means that the bearing starts from B.


Next, we identify the return bearing:


A return bearing

We are asked for the bearing of B from A. We need to draw a line straight up (north) and then go clockwise from it until we get back to the line.


Finally, work out the angle:


Reading bearings

A line straight down must give the angle 180°

Because the two lines going up are both north, this means they are parallel, so we can say that the rest of the angle is 043°


This gives the return bearing (B from A) as 180 + 43 = 223°


It may seem complicated but follow those three rules and it should make things a lot easier. Let's move on to some questions now.

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