Pythagoras theorem, the periodic table and how to do long division are just some of the things we learnt at school but have now completely forgotten, according to a new study.

Researchers took an in-depth look into how much the nation remembers from their school days with one in twenty Brits claiming nothing they learnt in school has been useful to them.

Knowing common flags of the world and how to calculate Pi have also escaped us, the poll of 1,000 adults found.

According to the data, only 31 percent of Brits can remember the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle, while seven in ten have completely forgotten how to do simple algebra.

And when it comes to the finer points of the English language 57 percent of Brits couldn’t give an example of a pronoun, verb or adjective. 

Maped Helix has been synonymous with the stationery world for over 130 years and commissioned the study as part of its Back to School campaign. The survey also revealed 32 percent of adults said maths was the subject that challenged them the most in school, while a further 21 percent wished they paid more attention in their languages lessons.

In fact, the research showed that 49 percent of Brits have been left embarrassed in a social situation due to their lack of basic knowledge.

As a result, 40 percent said they wished they had tried harder at school, while a further 12 percent said they regret messing around and getting into trouble with teachers.

However, 71 percent of those polled said they look back on their school days with fond memories 

Gray Richmond, UK Managing Director at Maped Helix, said: “For many of us our school days seem like a very long time ago, so it’s not surprising some of what we have learnt has escaped us.

“If a subject was challenging for us all those years ago, the chances are it will still leave us baffled.

“We found the findings of this survey really interesting, and of course, if we would struggle now as adults, a lot of it can be very challenging for children, which is why here at Maped Helix, we have products to help every step of the way.” 

Day-to-day, 21 percent of Brits struggle to remember how many pounds are in a stone, while (nine percent) admit they don’t know whether to use ‘to’ and ‘too’ in a written sentence.

Understanding the 24-hour clock and working out percentages also left many adults scratching their heads to this day.

And three in ten (29 percent) have never figured out how to work out east and west by looking where the sun is in the sky.

Over half (54 percent) wished they had learnt to speak a foreign language in school and 44 percent said it would have been beneficial to learn about finances such as how mortgages work, interest rates and credit card charges.

42 percent said learning DIY would have helped them out in adult life and 18 percent said they wish they had learnt the basics of cooking.

Of the parents polled, eight percent said they really struggle when it comes to helping their kids with their homework and a further 21 percent said their youngsters often bring home work which is incomprehensible.

A third of those polled said they loved shopping for new stationery before the start of the new school term in September.

As part of its Back to School campaign, Maped Helix is also giving ten lucky children the chance to win the ultimate Back to School bundle. To enter the competition, visit Maped Helix for entry details.


  • Trigonometry (sin, cos, tan) - 82 percent
  • How to calculate Pi - 82 percent
  • How to ask where the hospital is in French - 76 percent
  • Pythagoras’ theorem - 74 percent
  • Comparative and SuperLative Adjectives - 72 percent
  • Algebra - 72 percent
  • 10 or more of the periodic table - 70 percent
  • How to wire a plug - 70 percent
  • The different types of triangles (isosceles, scalene etc)  - 69 percent
  • How to convert fractions - 65 percent
  • Common flags of the world - 65 percent
  • Connecting up a battery (plus and negatives) - 64 percent
  • Beginning and end dates of World War I and World War II - 63 percent
  • Long division - 61 percent
  • The difference between a noun, a verb and an adjective - 57 percent
  • Capital cities of countries - 55 percent
  • The primary and secondary colours - 52 percent
  • How to lay-out a professional letter (yours faithfully etc) - 48 percent
  • Correct use of grammar and punctuation - 42 percent
  • Times tables - 31 percent