You’re undoubtedly an intelligent person. And yet, you struggle with calculation. It’s almost as if the number-heavy tasks are a daily obstacle that you need to overcome before they take over and conquer your day. Don’t let them! 1.45 hours equals how many minutes ? 1/11 of an hour? 1.073 seconds? Read on, because this blog post will teach you just 15 of the many tips that can help you get better at calculation!
1. Memorize multiplication tables.
This is where it all starts! The more you know about the basics, the more easily you’ll be able to answer questions. Unless you’re some kind of genius, there are probably a few that you still find difficult.
2. Know your math blocks.
Multiply the first digits together, then multiply the second digits together, then add the results. If this number is larger than 9, subtract 9 from it and you have your answer! This is an easy way of multiplying large numbers by 10, 100 and 1000. Also use this trick to find out how much % something costs in a store without having to multiply the price by 100: if 75% of 70 is 60, then 75% of $70 is $56 (56 cents rounded up).
3. Learn to estimate.
A great way to make sure you have a rough idea of how much something costs is by estimating the price. Imagine you’re buying a car for $40,000. The salesman tells you he can offer you 4% off the price. How much is that saving? If you aren’t a math whiz, you might say $1,000. This is incorrect.
4. Memorize some shortcuts for quick calculations.
A good knowledge of shortcuts will mean that simple calculations become quicker and easier for you. For example: divide by 1/3 by moving the decimal point in your number left 3 places; divide by 2/3 by moving it 2 places; multiply by .9 by moving the decimal point in your number 3 places to the left. There are many more shortcuts for you to learn, so start today!
5. Learn to calculate percentages.
If you’re going to be doing any kind of math, whether it’s at school, a job or anything else, you’ll need to know how to calculate percentages and discount rates. Methods like the easy blocks method can help with the former (see tip 2), while discounts are simply reductions in sales prices over a set period of time (usually weeks or months). The practice will help you become better at calculation over time.
6. Create your own grid system for calculations.
Just as every time you move your finger on a screen acts like a button, every time you move your hand around a sheet of paper acts like a control. You can bring this system to the math classroom or any other place you perform calculations.
7. Use your hands for calculations.
Just as you can use your computer or phone’s touch buttons, you can also use your hands to perform calculations. The simple way of doing this is to simply move from one number on your grid system to another by adding a certain amount or percentage to the number each time.
8. Vary the way you do calculations when practicing.
It’s really easy to get bored of doing the same calculations over and over. If you want to extend your practice, try changing how you do the job for a short period of time so that it feels different and new. This will make you more eager to keep practicing!
9. Work at a slow pace when changing from one number to another.
This is especially important if you’re working with fractions or decimals because a decimal division can be made incredibly quickly; just divide by 100 and you’re done! If this isn’t as easy for you, start off with a division that’s only by 1 if it’s quick, by 2 if it doesn’t matter too much, etc..
10. Learn shortcuts to decimal division.
If you make a division by 10 when calculating, don’t do it in the regular way. Instead of dividing by 10, divide by 10 and then move the decimal point one place to the left. This will allow you to finish the calculation much quicker! If you’re using a calculator, however, you can just input an extra 0 and it’ll do it for you! It’s easy once you become aware of these little shortcuts.
11. Divide with decimals by moving your finger from one digit to another if possible.
The same principle applies to fractions, but you can only move your finger from 0 to a number of 1 if you need to. In that case, instead of taking your finger from zero to a number of 1, it’s easier and quicker to just take your finger from a number of 10 or 100!
12. Don’t be afraid to use a calculator.
If you’re in the advanced math classes, you might think this is some kind of heresy, but even professors and advanced students use calculators every now and again! My advice: if it’s difficult to do with a calculator or you’re taking the SATs or another standardized test, do it by hand because most of them are going to count off for wrong answers anyway, so why not take the 5 extra minutes to do it yourself?
13. Learn other methods of calculation other than using your hands or touch buttons.
These methods can help you develop your brain’s computational power and make you more likely to remember simple calculations. I’ve read that using both hands to perform the same calculation at the same time makes it easier and faster to do, so try writing on some paper with one hand and doing simple addition or other calculations with your other hand at the same time.
14. Put yourself in new situations and do math.
If you’ve never had to do math before, try taking a math test late in the year. It’ll be a different experience for you and force your brain to learn to do calculations in new ways. If you’re more experienced, try a new test or textbook that’s harder than what you’re used to working with.
15. Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it.
If you’re having trouble learning or doing something, don’t be afraid to get help from someone else. You might think you’re stupid for having trouble with math, but that’s never true! It just means your brain is a little different than everyone else’s and some things take more time for it to learn.