What is a Benchmark Fraction on a Number Line?

What is a Benchmark Fraction on a Number Line?
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nola Bridgens

Nola has taught elementary school and tutored for four years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Marketing, and is a certified teacher.

You will learn how to define benchmark fractions and explain what they are used for and what they look like on a number line. In addition, you will be able to identify the most common benchmark fractions used.

What Is a Benchmark Fraction?

Have you ever used a ruler to estimate the length of a pencil or the width of your desk? If you measured to the nearest inch or foot, you were using benchmarks. A benchmark fraction is a common fraction that gives you a reference to measure other fractions with. Benchmark fractions are also used to help you compare and order other fractions.

Let's think about the word benchmark to get a better understanding of the concept. A benchmark is any standard or reference by which others can be measured or judged. Have you ever been to a carnival or amusement park and had to stand next to a sign to see if you were tall enough to go on the ride? The line that shows how tall you have to be to ride is the benchmark. If you're taller than the benchmark, it's safe to ride, but if you're shorter than the benchmark, you cannot ride. They use the benchmark as a guide. A benchmark fraction also acts as a guide, only it's in fraction form with a numerator and denominator.

What Benchmark Fractions Look Like

Benchmark fractions are especially helpful on number lines. The most famous number line used is a ruler. Rulers use halves, fourths, and eighths as benchmarks.

Common benchmark fractions
Benchmark Fractions Example 1

Do you see the long vertical red line in the middle of the 1 and 2? That is the benchmark fraction ½. Do you see the green vertical marks that are a little shorter in the middle of each half? Those are benchmark fractions that represent fourths. The blue lines on the number line represent eighths. These are some of the most common benchmark fractions used.

Other common benchmark fractions are thirds, sixths, and twelfths.

More common benchmark fractions
Benchmark Fractions Example 2

The long orange lines represent thirds and show how the whole line can be cut into three equal pieces. The pink lines represent sixths and the purple lines represent twelfths. You would use these benchmark fractions as a guide to help you find where other uncommon or unfamiliar fractions would go.

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