Maths has always been a daunting subject for many students as they often struggle with mathematical calculations. As such, many are envious of other students/teachers who can seemingly do a lot of calculations quickly and effortlessly, without the use of calculators. Some may say that these people are just ‘smart’ and others are unable to emulate such results.
In fact, this is often NOT the case. Many of these ‘smart’ people are just like us – they are not geniuses as they still have the same IQ level as ordinary people. So, how can they be so good at calculations and how can we strive to be like them? Here are some tips to be as ‘calculative’ as them.
#1 – Foundations do matter
Most, if not all, mathematical calculations involve the foundations of arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication & division. In fact, even complex equations that require algebra or even calculus still rely on these foundations. Strengthening them, especially multiplication tables, basic square & cube numbers, will go a long way.
#2 – Strong mental sums come from practice
To many, the ability to do mental sums is a gift, but it is not true. The brain is just like your muscles – the more you use it, the better it becomes. Rely less on calculators during your normal work and start practising by using pen & paper. Gradually, you can do faster and workings will begin to form in your mind and presto – you are able to do mental sums!
One word of advice though: do not be ambitious and try to solve an entire question in your mind. The thoughts in the mind can be fragile like bubbles, especially during exams. Any slight distraction can disrupt your thinking process and you may have to restart, wasting precious time. Do write down key workings on paper to keep track!
#3 – Set challenges as you progress
When you have managed to solve a question, do not be satisfied. Instead, try to look for similar questions and see if you can do in the same time. After that, go one step further and see if you can do these questions in even less time than before. With this training, you not only improve your calculation skills but also strengthen your methods.
With these tips, students should be able to use do mathematical calculations more effectively and score better in tests and exams!