Maths Literacy Matric Revision: Break-even analysis

Revision Notes: Patterns and Relationships in Mathematical Literacy (Grade 12)


Understanding patterns and relationships is crucial in mathematical literacy, allowing us to predict outcomes and analyse data effectively. This section covers different types of relationships and their graphical representations, with a special focus on break-even analysis.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify types of graphs and their features.
  2. Understand the concepts of direct and inverse proportionality.
  3. Learn break-even analysis to determine when a business will start making a profit.

Key Points

Types of Graphs

  1. Linear Graphs:
  2. Show the relationship between two quantities.
  3. All points lie on a straight line.
  4. Equation form: ( y = mx + c ).

  5. Quadratic Graphs:

  6. Show relationships involving a squared term.
  7. Equation form: ( y = ax^2 + bx + c ).
  8. Examples: the trajectory of a tossed ball (parabola).

  9. Hyperbolic Graphs:

  10. Show relationships where quantities are inversely proportional.
  11. Equation form: ( y = \frac{k}{x} ).

  12. Exponential Graphs:

  13. Show exponential growth or decay.
  14. Equation form: ( y = a \cdot b^x ).

Break-Even Analysis

  • Fixed Costs: Costs that do not change with the number of goods sold (e.g., rent).
  • Variable Costs: Costs that vary with the production volume (e.g., raw materials).
  • Break-Even Point: The point at which total revenue equals total costs; no profit or loss.
  • Graphical Method: Plot total cost and revenue lines; the intersection is the break-even point.

Real-World Applications

Example: Small Business Break-Even Analysis

Scenario: A new small bakery incurs fixed costs of R5,000 per month and variable costs of R20 per loaf of bread. Each loaf sells for R50.

Step-by-Step Solution:
1. Fixed Costs (F): R5,000.
2. Variable Costs (V): R20 per loaf.
3. Selling Price (P): R50 per loaf.

Break-Even Point Calculation:
[ \text{Break-Even Quantity} (Q) = \frac{F}{P – V} = \frac{5000}{50 – 20} = \frac{5000}{30} = 167 \text{ loaves} ]

Graphical Representation:
Total Cost (C): ( C = F + VQ )
Total Revenue (R): ( R = PQ )
– Plot these equations on a graph to find the intersection which is the break-even point.

Common Misconceptions and Errors

  1. Confusing Fixed and Variable Costs:
  2. Fixed costs remain constant irrespective of production volume.
  3. Variable costs change with production volume.

  4. Wrong Graph Interpretation:

  5. Misidentifying the break-even point on the graph.
  6. Always ensure the intersection of cost and revenue lines.

Practice and Review

Practice Questions

  1. Identify Graph Types:
  2. Match different graph shapes (linear, quadratic, etc.) with their equations.

  3. Break-Even Calculation:

  4. A business has fixed costs of R2,000, variable costs of R15 per unit, and sells each unit for R45. Calculate the break-even quantity.


  1. Graph Types:
  2. Linear: ( y = 3x + 2 ).
  3. Quadratic: ( y = x^2 – 4x + 4 ).
  4. Hyperbolic: ( y = \frac{6}{x} ).
  5. Exponential: ( y = 2^x ).

  6. Break-Even Calculation Solution:
    [ \text{Break-Even Quantity} = \frac{2000}{45 – 15} = \frac{2000}{30} = 67 \text{ units} ]

Examination Tips

  • Keywords: fixed costs, variable costs, break-even point.
  • Time Management: Allocate time based on question complexity, ensure all parts are attempted.

Connections and Extensions

  • Finance: Understanding cost management and profit forecasting.
  • Economics: Analyzing supply and demand impacts on price.

Summary and Quick Review

  • Linear graphs show direct relationships.
  • Quadratic graphs involve squared terms.
  • Break-even analysis helps businesses find the production level at which they start making a profit.
  • Identify and distinguish between fixed and variable costs.

Additional Resources

By understanding the fundamental concepts of patterns, relationships, and break-even analysis, students can apply these principles to real-world business and economic situations, enhancing their problem-solving skills in mathematical literacy.

This overview is designed to aid Grade 12 learners with accessible explanations, practical examples, and strategies to tackle common challenges in the topic of patterns and relationships, especially in break-even analysis.

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