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Our 3 Best Math Tips for When You’re Feeling Stuck

Math TipsSolving math problems can seem tedious at times, and other times it can be frustrating and challenging. When you find yourself stuck on a particular problem, it’s nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are three math tips to get you moving again.

Be Familiar With Factoring Tricks

This first trick is actually three math tips in one! The key is that all three math tips have the same general plan: to help you factor a number or determine divisibility.

With every even number being divisible by two, and every number with five or zero as the last digit being divisible by five, you might wonder if there are tricks for other numbers. Luckily, there are! Here are a bunch of math tips for how to determine which numbers are divisible by other odd numbers:

  • For 3, add up all the digits in the number. For example, taking the sum of the digits in 123,456 gives you 21.
  • Since 21 is divisible by 3 (3×7=21), 123,456 is also divisible by 3.

This same trick works if you try it for 9 as well. Adding all the digits of 12,345,678 together equals 36. And as 36 is divisible by 9 (9×4=36), 12,345,678 is divisible by 9 as well.

Figuring out if a number is divisible by 7 is a little more work, but it can still be done!

  • First, take the last digit of the number and double it.
  • Then, subtract that result from the rest of the digits, but don’t use the last digit again!
  • Take 112 for example. The last digit is 2, and 2×2=4. So subtract 4 from 11, which gives you 7, which of course is divisible by 7
  • Now you know 112 can be divided by 7 as well (7×16=112).

For larger numbers, if you don’t know whether the result is divisible by 7, just continue doing the process until you’re sure. With 1,393, you have 3 as the last digit, and when you double it you get to 6. Subtract 6 from 139 to get 133, and then you have 3 as the last digit again. Subtract double-3 (2×3=6), from 13 to get 7, which is divisible by 7, and 133 is also divisible by (7×19), as is 1393 (7×199). This doesn’t seem too bad!

Draw The Math Problem To Get A Better Idea

Not all math problems benefit from using a drawing, but if you can depict the situation with figures instead of just the text, you may get a better understanding of what’s going on (especially if you’re a visual learner!). You might also be able to make connections through the diagram that you wouldn’t otherwise.

This is one of the simplest math tips out there. A lot of math tutors and grade school teachers will encourage (and sometimes require) you to draw the problem out as a solution step. They weren’t doing it to make it longer for you to get through your homework. They were doing it because sometimes a visual interpretation can give you a better idea of the problem than just the words on the page.

Get Help From Your Teacher Or A Private Tutor

We’ve listed this one last because it’s probably the most important tip. If you’re stuck on a math problem and can’t figure out where to go next, asking for help can be hard, but necessary. Don’t think of it as something you should be embarrassed or ashamed of. Many of the smartest people in the world today had troubles getting through some of their math problems! They knew when to ask for help, and that’s what helped them persevere.

Along with getting help from your math class teacher, consider finding a private tutor for math. Getting one-on-one instruction can help a great deal, as the pace of teaching is matched to your individual needs. You’ll never need to worry about the teacher going too fast for you to comprehend everything, or too slow and cause you to be bored to tears. Your tutor can also help you target specific areas in your math curriculum that might need extra work, and show you different ways to understand and master the concepts. Once you’re at that point,  you’ll fly through those math tests and start improving your grades in no time!

 

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Photo by A&M-Commerce

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