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Any ideas about books I can get, from amazon? I need to get really good at mental math and math by hand because I'm taking an exam soon and that without a calculator.


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8 Answers 8

up vote 12 down vote accepted

One classic text is The Trachtenberg Speed System, which actually has an amazing history: Trachtenberg created the tools for the book (speed mathematics, including multiplication) while in a Nazi concentration camp, without the use of paper or a writing utensil.

The Wikipedia page gives a pretty good overview of the book, and there is a bit about Jakow Trachtenberg on Wikipedia as well.

p.s. Don't let the \$91 price on Amazon.com worry you; you can find many used copies for less than \$10.

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I got the kindle edition. –  Algific Jul 31 '11 at 20:43
This was magic, can't believe I didn't learn this in school. Thanks. –  Algific Aug 1 '11 at 4:35
@Algific -- glad you liked it. I didn't know there was a Kindle edition. –  Chris Gregg Aug 1 '11 at 13:54

If you're looking for books about rapid arithmetic calculations, then these two books might be what you're looking for. They are Speed Mathematics and Short-Cut Math, which will cost you less than $15 for the both of them from Amazon. I bought them for my little sister a few years ago, since she wanted to learn some mental math tricks, and she said that they were both pretty good.

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I also need to do multiplication and division with decimal numbers by hand, is that also in those books? –  Algific Jul 31 '11 at 19:28
I believe they did. They had everything that she had been interested in learning and I'm sure that included decimal multiplication/division. –  Michael Banaszek Jul 31 '11 at 19:35

These days, any reasonably competent and non-sadistic instructor of a math course who gives an exam where calculators are not allowed will be cognizant of the fact that students are not as handy with arithmetic as they were in the days before calculators, and will make allowances for that fact. So, unless it's a course in arithmetic, I suspect you are unlikely to need to do any very complicated calculations.

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I know, but I need A's. Medicine is a bitch to get accepted to. –  Algific Jul 31 '11 at 19:56
Do you have access to past exams in this course? If so, take a look at some. Are there many questions that trouble with mental arithmetic would have prevented you from getting correct? I really doubt that this would be a major barrier to your A. There are probably lots of other things that should be higher priorities. –  Robert Israel Jul 31 '11 at 23:27
In the UK where there are mathematics exams both with and without calculators, the ones without do not usually require complicated arithmetic. It is probably more important to be able to handle powers of 10. –  Henry Jul 31 '11 at 23:47

There is also "Secrets of Mental Math" by Arthur Benjamin.

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The best book for mental math and math by hand is Vedic Mathematics by Bharati Krsna Tirthaji. Just search in Google and Amazon.

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On the website http://www.math-magic.com/ you can find some tricks for mental arithmetic.

They are divided into various categories, like Multiplying numbers, Multiplying strategies, Basic memorization, etc.

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Talking of fast hand calculations, I think the works of Shakuntala Devi, should be inevitable to not to strike in. Check them out once, you may find it helpful

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I'm writing articles specially on mental math. right now I have published three articles one is for mental addition, second one mental subtraction and third one mental multiplication.

As this post is 3 years old, probably you must have already given your exam but any other person may find it useful.


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