Super Shortcuts for Working with Fractions

Working with fractions can be very tricky. Sure, it's all basic mathematics, but there's that slash and those numbers on top and on the bottom. Things need to be converted and simplified, which further complicates matters.

Try these tips to make dealing with fractions easier.

Instant Lowest Common Denominator
Whenever you add or subtract fractions, you first need to find the lowest common denominator, so that you're dealing in equal amounts. Subtracting 1/5 from 1/2 doesn't yield 1/3, it yields 3/10.

The fastest way to find the lowest common denominator is to simply multiply the denominators by one another. For example, if you have 1/5 and 1/2, multiply 5 x 2 to get 10. Then you simply multiply the numerator by it's opposite denominator (2 x 1 for 1/5, which equals 2/10, and 5 x 1 for 1/2, which equals 5/10). To finish the example, 5/10 - 2/10 = 3/10.

This trick works with any fractions you encounter. Be sure to see if you can reduce your final answer to a simpler fraction.

Fixing Oversized Numerators
One of the rules of fractions is that numerators can never be larger than denominators. When the numerator is larger, that means there's a whole number that can be represented. For example, if you get 8/2 as a result, the real answer is 4. If you get 9/2 as a result, the answer is 4 1/2.

Simple division lets you pull the whole numbers out of these top-heavy fractions. Remember that the slash between the numerator and the denominator is a division symbol. All you need to do is divide the denominator into the numerator.

For example, say your result is 49/3. To get the whole number, you divide 49 by 3. The whole number is 16, with a remainder of 1. Instead of solving for that remainder, you simply use it as the new numerator for your fraction. Thus, 49/3 can be reduced to 16 1/3.

It can be faster to do the division before you simplify a fraction. Say you get 48/32 as a result. If you divide 48 by 32, you get 1 and 16/32, which easily simplifies to 1 1/2. If you'd simplified the fraction first, you would have divided both numbers by 16 to get 3/2, arriving at the same result of 1 1/2.

Try these tricks the next time you're working with fractions and you'll see how simple the math can be.

Similar Questions on
Related Life123 Articles

Are your kids struggling to learn how to convert fractions to decimals? Try these tips to explain how it's done.

Learning how to add fractions is a basic mathematical skill. Find out the simple way to add like fractions and get tips for finding a common denominator for unlike fractions.

Frequently Asked Questions on
More Related Life123 Articles

Learning how to simplify fractions is an important step kids need to master so they can add and subtract fractions. Learn how to find common denominators and reduce fractions to simpler numbers.

Learning how to divide fractions into whole numbers or other fractions is very simple when you know the basic steps.

Teaching kids how to multiply decimals can be tricky, because those pesky decimal points get in the way. Follow this guide to show kids how to place the decimal point and round answers to a specific decimal place.

© 2015 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company