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Mental Math Shortcuts

It's good to know a few math tricks and techniques. Not that there is anything wrong with using a good calculator, but will you always have one with you? It helps to have the ability to add, subtract, multiply and figure the sales tax on that new television without a calculator, since most of us do not carry them around everywhere we go, and it takes more time to bring up that app on your smart phone than to just do the calculation in your head). Also, doing mathematics in your head is good brain exercise.

There are intensive programs that can teach you how to do mental math using shortcuts that make it possible even to multiply four-digit numbers without paper or pencil. Following this short piece you’ll find a recommendation for one that isn’t so intensive, but is very practical. But just to give you an idea of how easy it is to do math in your head, here are a few examples.

Let’s start with something easy, like multiplying 342 by 11. One way to make a problem like this easier is to start with 342 multiplied by 10, which most of us can quickly see is 3420 (just add a zero). Now, if we add one more 342 to that, we have the result for 342x11, which is 3,762. That wasn’t too difficult, was it?

That is a simple example of a shortcut that makes mental math possible. Now, what if we want to find the sales tax on a $680 couch if the rate is 6.5%? That might seem a bit trickier, but there are shortcuts for these types of problems as well. Star with 6% of $600. That’s easy enough, being just 6 times $6, or $36. Keep that figure in mind and add to it 6% of $80, which is just 60 cents for each ten dollars, or $4.80. Now we are at $40.80, and we just have to add .5% to that for our total tax.

For this last step, think of 1% of the total price, which is easy figure: $6.80 (move the decimal two places to the left to get 1%). Now just cut that in half, which should also be relatively easy, to arrive at $3.40. If you are still holding that $40.80 in your mind, add the $3.40 and you have $44.20 in total sale’s tax.

It is easier than you might think once you practice a bit, and if you have a scrap of paper, you might take notes as you go - without having to write out the whole equation. If you practice a bit and find yourself still having difficulties, you might want to consider help from a tutor who specialize in math.

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