How to Improve Your Mental Math Calculation

How to Improve Your Mental Math Calculation

Humanity has always wished to make the life easier. Initially, people invented the abacus (primitive counting board) for easy calculations, then there was a calculator, next appeared some huge calculating machines and finally have come the computers. Now, almost any gadget has a calculator and all the complex calculations are performed with the help of the built-in functions of the textual and spreadsheet editors.

The need to add and multiply mentally seems to have entirely disappeared. But this is only an illusion. We’ve almost become hostages of the gadgets as they know how to do everything. And the more frequently we resort to the software, the more difficult it is for us to think clearly and analyze problems. In fact, about 50% of adults are not able to mentally multiply two-digit numbers. This is unfortunate, but we’ve got good news: you can easily catch up and even overtake the “lost” knowledge.

How to be attentive and concentrated

To learn how to count in mind really quickly, you should be able to focus on a specific example. This skill is useful not only for making mathematical operations but also to deal with any life problems. The ability to be attentive in the right moment is a skill which distinguishes the great scientists, athletes, politicians, and certainly is useful for you.

To begin with, try to solve the following problem without any devices (paper and pencil count):

Take 3000. Add 30 to it. Then add 2000 more. And again plus 10. Plus 2000. Add 20. Now, add 1000. Plus 30. Plus 1000. And finish it with 10 more.

Your answer:

Real answer: 9 100.

If you have solved the problem correctly and quickly, congratulations, you’ve managed to concentrate on the numbers and avoid the temptation to get a nice answer. This approach is necessary for mental counting. Try to solve other similar problems to increase the quality of your skills of subtraction, division and multiplication in mind. If you find it difficult to get  the solution of these examples, you can take advantage of special exercises and techniques that will help you concentrate.

  • Visualization: it is important to clearly imagine an example which you count mentally.
  • Game: try to always find something interesting in the routine, turning any action into the game.
  • Competitiveness: the vast majority of  people become reckless in an attempt to be better than the competitor.
  • Personal records: another factor, which creates excitement when calculating, can be a competition with yourself  in order to achieve a certain result.

Simple arithmetic laws

To be able to solve complex math problems, you need a good grasp of some basic regularities. Most likely they will not cause you problems. However, pay special attention to these problems because your ability to quickly perform more complex math operations depends on how quickly you can count simple examples.

Here are some algorithms for fast counting

When multiplying by 9, multiply by 10 instead, and then subtract the other number. For example,


To multiply a 2-digit number by 11, take the sum of its digits. If it’s a single digit number, just write it between the two digits. If the sum is 10 or more, do not forget to carry 1 over.


It will be helpful if you memorize the first 25 squares:


Generally, there are a lot of different tips to master mental calculation. Some of them you can find here or maybe you will discover your own technics. In any case, you should practice these tricks and we advise this game, which tests mental math skills through arithmetic speed drills. You can compete with your friends, setting new records!

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