1001 Math Problems, 2nd Edition
Book Preface
Are you frightened of mathematics? You’re not alone. By the time I was nine, I had developed a full-blown phobia. In fact, my most horrible moments in grade school took place right before an arithmetic test.My terror—and avoidance—lasted well into adulthood, until the day I landed a job with a social service agency and was given the task of figuring budgets, which involved knowing how to do percentages. I might just as well have been asked to decipher the strange squiggles incised on the nose-cone of an alien spaceship. I decided I’d better do something quick, so I went to a friend of mine, a fifth-grade teacher, and asked her to design a short course for me. We met on Sundays for almost a year. She began each tutorial with a short lecture on the type of problem we would be working with, and then provided me with a yellow legal pad and a photocopied set of problems—and sat doing crossword puzzles while I labored.We worked our way up to geometry that way, and on into algebra.
“Mathematics works,” she told me early on. “Don’t ask why. Just do the problems. One day the light will dawn.”
And it did finally! I’m proud to say I no longer have to pay someone to do my 1040 form for the IRS, and I don’t squirm and make excuses when, at lunch with friends, I’m called on to figure the tip in my head.
I even balance my checkbook now!
Learn by doing. It’s an old lesson, tried and true. And it’s the tool this book is designed to give you. Of course, this method works for people who don’t have math anxiety, too. Maybe you have simply forgotten a lot of what you learned about math because you haven’t had to use it much. Or maybe you’re a student tackling arithmetic, algebra, and geometry for the first time, and you just need more practice than your textbook gives you. Perhaps you’re getting ready for an exam, and you just want to make sure your math skills are up to the task. Whatever your situation, you can benefit from the method of this book. That old maxim really is true: Practice makes perfect.
An Overview of This Book
1001 Math Problems is divided into sections, each focusing on one kind of math:
Section 1:Miscellaneous Math (page 1)
Section 2: Fractions (page 25)
Section 3: Decimals (page 47)
Section 4: Percentages (page 71)
Section 5: Algebra (page 95)
Section 6: Geometry (page 123)
Each section is subdivided into short sets of about 16 problems each, so as to make the whole project seem less overwhelming.You will begin with one or two sets of fairly simple nonword problems; later sets focus on word problems dealing with real-world situations.
In each section, you will find a few pre-algebra problems mixed in—problems that ask you to deal with variables (letters that stand for unknown numbers, such as x or y), exponents (those little numbers hanging above the other numbers, like 24), and the like. These problems are a warm-up for Section 5, Algebra. If they are too hard for you at first, just skip them. If you can answer them, you will be ahead of the game when you get to Section 5.
The most important learning tool in this book is not the problems, but the answers. At the back of the book, each answer is fully explained.After you finish a set, go to the back of the book and see how many questions you got right. But don’t stop there: look at the explanations for all the questions, both the ones you got right and the ones you got wrong.You will be learning by doing, and learning from your mistakes—the best way to learn any subject.
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