Calculators are allowed in SAT, ACT, and PSAT tests to help math examinees compute their answers. Good news, right? Not really. Generally, the tests don’t require bringing calculators to the exam; in fact, if you do, you will be informed that certain models where answers can be transmitted via wireless network are discouraged. When seen from the perspective of Chad Orzel of Science Blogs, one can even say that “Real math doesn’t use calculators.”

A more detailed explanation follows: calculators are next to useless in higher math classes, according to Orzel. Can you find the slope of two sets of coordinates with a simple calculator? Can you prove geometric principles with postulates and theorems using a scientific calculator? In some cases, having a calculator can be an impediment to the rapid solving of math problems.

One example is when doing simple operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Multiply any number by 11 and you’ll get an answer in less time than it would take to punch the buttons on the calculator.

How can you do this? For two-digit numbers, simply add the two digits and put their sum in the middle. In this case, 25 multiplied by 11 equals 275, where 2 + 5 = 7 and the first and third numbers remain the same. This rule applies unless you need to carry 1 to the first digit, as is the case when you multiply 67 by 11 (because 6 + 7 = 13) and get 737.

What about getting 12 percent of 8,000? It pays to return to the origin of the word “percent,” which is, for your information, a compound word meaning “every 100.” For that matter, 12 percent of 100 is simply 12, and they don’t call 8,000 “80 hundreds” for no reason. Multiply 12 by 80 and you’ll get 960, the 12 percent of 8,000.

Of course, there will still be times when a calculator will come in handy. However, you need to take time pressure into account. When taking a timed major exam, knowledge of math shortcuts can spell the difference between passing and failing. Learning centers such as C2 Education can offer quality math help in the form of arithmetic tips to make the subject simpler. Who needs a calculator when the human brain can do the work?

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