Basic Mathematics Skills

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Whether studying for a college course or teaching your children how to do math, basic mathematics skills are imperative to daily success. Math is used while balancing a checkbook, determining what to buy at the grocery store as well as in academic setting. Allow these refresher facts to provide you the basic math skills you need in order to remain proficient.


The numbers that are added in math problems are called addends; the answer to the problem is the sum. To set up a addition problem, you write the numbers one under one another in a column (the larger numbers at the top and smaller ones at the bottom). The numbers are added from right to left. Start with the right column. If the sum of that column adds up to 9 or below, write that sum below the line of all the numbers. If the sum is higher than 9, write the sums of that number under the line. For example, 9 + 2 + 3 = 14. Write 4 under the line. The tens are carried to the next column to the left, place that number above the top number. Continue to add each column and carry over as needed until all the numbers are added and you have computed a sum.


The higher number in a subtraction problem, the minuend, is subtracted by the lower number, the subtrahend. When you do a subtraction problem, look for the particular number that must be added to the small number to equal the highest number in the problem. For example, in the problem 25 - 8, you are looking for a number that when added to 8 equals 25.

To set up a subtraction problem, write the smaller problem under the largest number, so that units are properly lined up, for example tens by tens, hundreds by hundreds and so on. Start at the right (just like in addition), and subtract the bottom digit from the digit above it. For example, in 25 - 12, subtract 2 from 5, equals 3. Place this number below the line that is placed underneath the subtrahend or the lower number. Continue to do this from right to left. Sometimes a number must be regrouped just like in addition. Follow the same rule as in addition by carrying the additional number over and continuing the same routine.


The top number in this type of problem is the multiplicand and the bottom number, the multiplier. The answer of the problem is the product. Keep numbers that are largest on top and ones smaller on the bottom, draw a line underneath. Multiply from right to left in columns. For example, take 25 x 7. Start with 5 x 7. The product is 35. Place the ones number, the 5, underneath the line and carry the 3 to the tens column (the column to the left of the furthest right column). From there, multiply 7 x 2, which is 14, and add 3, which is 17. Place this number to the left of the 5 in the ones column. The numbers under the column should read 175, the product.


The number that is divided into another number is the divisor, the larger number is the dividend, and the answer to the problem is the quotient. The purpose of division is discovering the number of times that the divisor can go into the dividend.

For example, divide 6 into 27. You can use multiplication to help you in this type of problem. Consider how many times 6 can be multiplied to get closest to 27. The answer is 4. 4 x 6 is equal to 24. Place 4 above the 7 in the problem. Place 24 below 27 and do the subtraction. What remains is 3; this is your remainder, as it is lower then your divisor. Just place an R3 (R stands for remainder) next to the 4 to show your answer.


Another important math skill involves fractions. A fraction includes a numerator, the top number; and a denominator, the bottom number. Fractions can equate to percentages too. For example, 2/5 is equal to 40 percent. Fractions can be greater or lesser than 1.

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