Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can I avoid making arithmetic and petty calculation errors while performing manual arithmetic?

The problem arises whenever I am engrossed in problem solving. I make mistakes as silly as 3 times 3 is 6!! The mistakes range from actual wrong values to faulty interpretations (mis-read the values from the working space). Although the scourge of silly errors haunts me in all cases (missing important points in the question, etc), I seem to make most mistakes in arithmetic calculations. Haste could be one of the factors, but I seldom have time due to very lengthy papers. Hence time is not the luxury I can afford. How can I minimize general petty errors which arise partly due to haste and partly due to something I don't know?

share|improve this question

Aside from the obvious advice to "slow down" (which I know is hard!), I would practice arithmetic and logic daily outside of this case work. For example, you could do daily Sudoku games, crossword puzzles, and/or Lumosity games.

You might also want to highlight or jot down your assumptions (n=6) as you go through, so when you check your work you can also easily re-check your assumptions.

I was noticing a similar tendency in myself as I got older and did math less frequently ... having to pause on 6x7 ... and practicing arithmetic daily (I use Lumosity) has pretty much made that disappear.

share|improve this answer
A genuine thanks for your help. But I think the issue is beyond arithmetic inefficiency. It is very general, for sometimes while going slow, I still miss reading a great deal in the question or do some logically false calculation, the mistake being obvious as soon as I complete the test. I believe it goes beyond arithmetic errors. – Satwik Pasani Feb 3 '14 at 8:44
That's why general brain/memory exercises like regular crossword puzzles can help. – Marina Martin Feb 3 '14 at 13:20
  • Use graph paper to align your numbers.

  • Read the problem more slowly and more deliberately.

  • Visualize the answer in your head before you write anything down.

  • Set a measurable standard and record the results.

  • Practice until you can achieve that standard on a regular basis.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.