
Elementary Math Fractions, Percentages, Word Problems, Equations, Inequations, Factorization, Expansion 
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August 25th, 2011, 09:40 AM  #1 
Member Joined: Aug 2011 Posts: 78 Thanks: 0  Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at math?
I find mental arithmetic on the spot quite challenging. I always forget which numbers I am adding, subtracting etc and always have to repeat the original problem. With pen and paper I find these problems much more simple and I absolutely love algebra. I find it easy to perform long division and multiplications but find it stuff doing basic math mentally. Does this make me thick and less able at math?

August 25th, 2011, 10:03 AM  #2 
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2009 From: Northwest Arkansas Posts: 2,766 Thanks: 4  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat
Not necessarily! Arithmetic is just a small part of the math world. Maybe you have superb abstract and intuitive skills... who knows ?!? :P 
August 25th, 2011, 10:18 AM  #3 
Senior Member Joined: May 2008 From: York, UK Posts: 1,300 Thanks: 0  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat
Not at all! A lecturer once asked us what 6 * 8 was in the middle of a lecture, presumably because he couldn't be bothered to work it out himself! It goes without saying that the converse is also true; you do not need to be a good mathematician to be good at mental arithmetic. 
August 25th, 2011, 12:28 PM  #4 
Senior Member Joined: Jun 2011 Posts: 164 Thanks: 0  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat
not necessary, but of course you need to know arithmetic in order to be good at math, your question if to be good at arithmetic, my definition of good at math is "knowing formulas by heart and know when to using them and how to use them for different questions, then you would be able to score higher, therefore you are good at math" i am good at arithmetic, but when i do math problems, i rarely use arithmetic, (simple 2xx doesn't count at this spot since this is too easy) but more algebra, only little arithmetic is required(if you are in middle school) or in geometry, as long as you know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, you will be fine because usually the questions are testing you if you know the rules you need for this problem, not how good you are at arithmetic. if you dislike arithmetic, don't bother with it, just know how to do it, later on you might find it fun to do it. here is a fun trick to do 45x55 in 10 seconds in your head!, you do 50x50, which is 2500, then minus 5x5, which is 25, then subtract 25 from 2500, you get 2475, which is 45x55, why? a^2b^2=(a+b)(ab)! it is (50+5) and (505)!, you expand it, and get that answer, quite fun you might find it is, and this is why i love arithmetic more than others, (yeah, it's simple) no big deal if you are not bad at arithmetic, just know the procedure to do arithmetic and do it slowly, you will get it right, as you practice, you get better at it, and you might find it fun, or at least that's how i feel. wuzhe, the arithmetician or math, who knows how to take square roots, but don't know about bases(which is more important than square roots) (how sad it that?) 
August 25th, 2011, 01:12 PM  #5 
Global Moderator Joined: May 2007 Posts: 6,821 Thanks: 723  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat
Personal note: I have a Ph.D. in mathematics. My two worst subjects in elementary school were arithmetic and spelling. I still have problems balancing my checkbook. When I type responses on this (and other forums) I rely heavily on the spell checker.

August 25th, 2011, 01:26 PM  #6  
Senior Member Joined: May 2008 From: York, UK Posts: 1,300 Thanks: 0  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat Quote:
I would hold that examinations are a very poor method of judging mathematical ability. They are the only way, however, of economically and fairly comparing certain abilities in a large group of students.  
August 26th, 2011, 12:27 AM  #7  
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2011 From: USA Posts: 782 Thanks: 1  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat Quote:
I think you need to distinguish between being good at math, being good at tests, being good at class, having a certain level of knowledge, or more importantly, a certain level of current knowledge, the ability to memorize versus the ability to truly understand, and the ability to apply to something you've never seen before as opposed to just applying to chapters you know are on the test. And being good at math is different than being a genius at it.  
August 26th, 2011, 12:47 AM  #8 
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2011 From: USA Posts: 782 Thanks: 1  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat
As to OP's question... no, I don't think you have to be good at arithmetic to be good at math. But it might also depend on how you define arithmetic. I think of that as your four basic operations and a bit of manipulation with them. And you can use a calculator to do that, so being "good" at it I'd consider being able to do it well in your head, or at least manually on paper. I think doing long problems manually on paper is a pain in the rear end. I can do it, but it's slow and I subtract on my fingers. However, I can do a certain amount of stuff in my head if I have to, like I want to know but a calculator isn't at hand. But I'm like you, I forget what I'm doing. Like if I knew what you made per week and wanted that per year, I'd do it times 100 first, then divide that in half, and then add two weeks on. But by time I'm adding the two weeks on, I've probably forgotten what I was supposed to be adding it to. Which is a little weird cause I normally memorize numbers very easily. Can you still manage to understand algebra even if you have to pull out a calculator? Sure. But if you're great at doing arithmetic in your head, but can't manage to understand any other math, then you're not "good at math." (Think Rainman here.) I've never considered that I'm good at arithmetic. I'm better than the average person out there, who can't manage to multiply by 10 in their head, but relative to most "math people" I'm pretty lousy at it. But it never stopped me. People are far too complex to decide that not being great at arithmetic automatically means you can't be good at math or "thick." I'm a fairly intelligent person, but I can be very stupid about certain things and I'm absentminded as hell, I can remember your phone number, address and birthday quite easily but can't remember two things I have to pick up at the store, or for that matter why I got up out of the chair. The human brain just isn't that simple. I wouldn't worry about it. 
August 26th, 2011, 12:54 AM  #9  
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2011 From: USA Posts: 782 Thanks: 1  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat Quote:
 
August 26th, 2011, 12:22 PM  #10  
Global Moderator Joined: May 2007 Posts: 6,821 Thanks: 723  Re: Do you have to be good at arithmetic to be a good at mat Quote:
 

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