A study indicates that math is easier if you’ve memorized the easy stuff:

Students who excel at math use rote memory to solve simple arithmetic problems, while weak students calculate, concludes a new study, “Why Mental Arithmetic Counts” [pdf], published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This works also for those of us who are well past the study stage: you’d be surprised how often I have to remember routine two- or even three-digit multiplication products.

1. ### McGehee »

19 January 2013 · 9:27 pm

“Times tables” have been quite handy for me down through the years. I learned them up to 12 from the little grid on the inside of my brother’s Pee-Chee folder, long before my own class ever got that ambitious.

2. ### CGHill »

19 January 2013 · 10:36 pm

If I have to break out the slide rule, I’m prepared. I think.

3. ### Roger Green »

20 January 2013 · 4:45 am

I memorized the squares to 25 (625), which has been surprisingly useful.

4. ### fillyjonk »

20 January 2013 · 2:50 pm

So all those years of the nervewracking “timed tests” we used to do in basic math served some purpose other than making those of us who were naturally jumpy even jumpier? (Most of my teachers used a kitchen timer, which was like torture for me, I kept anticipating the ring). That’s good to know.

Even being able to double numbers up to 4096 or so in my head (when explaining geometric population growth) seems to impress the students these days.

5. ### XRay »

20 January 2013 · 3:49 pm

“numbers up to 4096″… yeah, the ol’ penny on the chess board squares bet. When young I did work out the final number if I remember, but certainly didn’t memorize them all.

6. ### Tatyana »

20 January 2013 · 6:56 pm

FJ, by “double” you mean multiplying by two? or you mean second power?