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I don’t know about you, but every time I need to make new numbers I don’t have a calculator and I don’t want to look like a fool asking for pen and paper. The answer to this issue I found was to learn mental math. Fine tuning my ability to make math calculations without a calculator has been one of the most useful things I have ever learned. I recommend everyone learn how to be a human calculator because whether you like it or not the universe was written in the language of mathematics.
To do mental math properly, you need to know the proper math tricks to break the problems down into easier chunks for your brain to handle. It’s best to master mental addition and subtraction first since they are the easiest and most useful. Keep in mind there are many techniques out there to do math in your head and some of them are better than others. The way you were taught originally may be holding you back so you may have to completely retrain your brain for success. It is up to you to use which math strategies you feel most comfortable with.
Learning the technique is only the orientation. It takes lots of practice to be able to do it effectively. Doing math problems over and over again helps define the process in your brain making it faster and harder to forget. The best way to practice is to do a little bit each day which is called spaced repetition. Spaced repetition has been proven to be the best way of engraving a fact or skill into your brain. If you don’t use it regularly it will fade from your memory as the neural circuits are withered away.
Simple Mental Math Explanation
For those of you looking for a resource that starts from the beginning and provides a very rudimentary explanation of mental math then the website/eBook “Mental Math” by Wikibooks is perfect for you. It starts at the beginning and builds on each technique in a logical sequence. This is the best option if you know little about math and need to start from scratch.
Quick Tricks to Amaze
If you are interested in making free drink bets in the bar or impress your hot math teacher then 10 Math party tricks is the article for you. The purpose of the article is to actually amaze people so the calculations are rather intimidating, but they are in fact shortcuts that anybody can learn with a little practice. The article is well written and provides good examples.
Math Training for Standardized Testing
If you are preparing for a standardized test or need to learn effective strategies for math tests than GMAT Hacks: Mental Math is the math website for you. This website has many chapters explaining in detail the somewhat advanced algebra needed to ace the GMAT or any other difficult test. It has very detailed articles that lay out the procedures in an understandable manner.
Structured Course for Everyday Math
If you are looking for a course to help walk you through all of the arithmetic techniques then The secrets of mental math at The Great Courses is for you. It is a reputable company that provides great content and help with the material. This method will keep you on track to success and give you a clear path.
Best Book to Learn Great Math Strategies
If you are looking for a comprehensive book then I would recommend “Secrets of Mental Math” by Benjamin and Michael Shermer. It is the most highly acclaimed book on the subject it provides excellent explanations and math problems to test your understanding. It can be purchased in eBook or print form.
If you are interested in learning from videos then I suggest you check out Math Tutor DVD. Mathtutordvd.com is a great resource for anyone who likes to see the math problems written out and explained step by step for them. This resource is great for anyone who struggles with math. They offer an extensive list of specialized courses designed to help you understand math better. This YouTube playlist is packed with great explanations of mental math strategies that are easy to understand.
Mental Math Practice on Your Own
A great form of fundamental practice is by doing virtual math practice in your head. It can be done by picking random numbers and performing calculations on them. If you want to make it harder you can do recursive calculations on a random number, meaning you use your answer for the next calculation such as continually multiplying it by 2 or figure out its Fibonacci sequence.
The great thing about virtual math practice is that you can do it anywhere without needing anything. It forces you to visualize the numbers in your head. I have also heard that doing virtual calculations can help put you to sleep much like counting sheep. It focuses an anxious mind on a tedious task. It is great when you are tossing and turning at night.
Rapid Mental Math App
When I first started learning mental math, I found the app Mental Math Tricks to be very helpful. It is great because you can isolate one particular mental math trick at a time and increase the difficulty level when you are ready. When I used it I went through each level only moving on until I reached three stars and my skills improved immensely. Unfortunately, it is only offered in the Google Play Store.
Fun Math Puzzle App
Another great App available on Google Play and the iTunes Store is Math Workout. It is an app that is designed for daily math maintenance exercises. It has a great game called the math cruncher that is basically a rapid fire constant number game that is a great way to add variety to your practice. It is a perfect tool to keep your math skills sharp where ever you are.
Fun Math Game Online
If you prefer to have a browser based math game to practice with, FlexMath is the best. It has specific lessons for each type of skill. You can increase your goal as the game goes on. It has the ability to practice an extensive range of calculations.
Advanced Math Mindset
If you are looking for a rigid in-depth course on core mathematics then Introduction to mathematical thinking taught by Keith Devlin is what you are looking for. It is an MOOC created by Stanford and hosted on Coursera.org. The course is designed to give you the proper mathematical principals to use math in novel ways for everyday life. The course is unlike any other traditional math courses that teach procedures. It is intended for building a base of thinking necessary to pursue a career that’s closely tied to mathematics.
Whichever methods you use you are taking a step towards a larger mental physique. Math is an integral part of life and cannot be avoided. You will be surprised at how useful and fun mental math can be. If you liked this article subscribe to my newsletter to receive my latest articles via email. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.