Home » Blogs » Always Learning » Rounding Up Three More Usual Math Suspects

Rounding Up Three More Usual Math Suspects

protractor photoWe tutors get an interesting perspective into students’ math struggles. We find ourselves reteaching the same concepts over and over, to students from 5th through 12th grade.

The human brain has a hard time grasping and retaining certain kinds of information. Terminology is especially hard, which is why you will notice that my Usual Math Suspects List comprises mostly math words and the procedures these words are meant to trigger.

Parents need to realize that it’s not big numbers or daunting theories, but these “little details” that trip kids up and prevent them from being good math students.

So, if you’d like to give your child a meaningful math boost, keep quizzing her on the following concepts until they sink in for good. (Some parents are keeping flash cards in the car for flipping en route to school; a great idea!)

Making sense of numbers and getting comfortable with them has huge pay-offs, not just for schoolwork, but throughout life!

#4 Perpendicular lines cross at right angles.

Many students think that “perpendicular” just means “intersect,” but lines can intersect (cross) without necessarily being perpendicular.

Perpendicular = right angles = 90 degree angles


#5 The word of means multiply.


Word problems often use the word “of” to imply multiplying by fractions or percents.

What is 1/3 of 60?         1/3 x 60 = 20

What is 40% of 80?       40% x 80 = 32


#6  To multiply by a fraction, divide by its reciprocal.


Students often give blank looks when asked What is 1/3 of 60? 


1/3 of 60 is the same as 60 divided by 3. The answer is 20.

Practice some of these over breakfast or on the drive to school:

What is 1/4 of 40? (40 divided by 4) = 10

What is 1/2 of 82? (82 divided by 2) = 41

What is 1/5 of 45? (45 divided by 5) = 9


Make up your own examples, and practice a little at a time until your child is fluent.


Students, parents and educators: Please sign up for Learning Something New, my free newsletter containing articles, videos, study tips and food for thought about learning better and living better, delivered to your inbox twice each month.

Photo by Dean Hochman

Rounding Up Three More Usual Math Suspects

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2015). Rounding Up Three More Usual Math Suspects. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Oct 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.