Long Division: Tips and Tricks

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11812

Long division can be a longer process than necessary if you forget what to do! Here are some quick, easy, reliable tips that can help you remember how to cross that divide into long division success!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


The following division problem has been partly solved. What is the next step that needs to be performed to continue solving this problem?

If you said the next step that needs to be performed is divide, you are correct!

Long division consists of a series of steps you must repeat until you finish solving the problem. Since you know the next step in the problem is to divide, do you know what number you need to divide into? Tell your teacher or parent.

This step in the long division process is a step students frequently make mistakes with because they want to divide into the dividend. In reality, the solver is supposed to divide into the number at the opposite end of the problem — the number that has been subtracted and brought down (15).

In this lesson, you will review some of the most common mistakes students make when solving long division problems, and learn some strategies to help you avoid making those mistakes.

Long division consists of a lot of steps. Do you remember all five steps? Tell your teacher or parent. If you need a refresher, return to the first Related Lesson in our Long Division series, found in the right-hand sidebar.

Often, when students go to solve long division problems, they forget steps or get the steps mixed up. One of the simplest things you can do to help you remember all the steps is write them down the side of your paper before you start solving. You can even just write the first letter in each step to help you save time.

Look at the example below. The solver has the problem set up and has abbreviated the list of steps written to the side of the problem. If you struggle with setting up your problem and lining up the numbers correctly, try writing the problem on graph paper. Write one digit in each box. This will help you line everything up evenly:

Another common mistake students make when solving long division problems has to do with the times tables. Knowing your times tables is essential to solving division problems, but if you are uncertain of the multiples for the divisor, write them out before you start solving. Look at the example below. The solver has set up the problem, listed the steps, and listed the multiples for the divisor (3):

If you have the multiples listed, you can use them to help you when you start solving. In the example below, the solver is on the multiplication step. Since he or she has the multiples listed, he or she just has to count to the fourth number down on the list because three is being multiplied by four. The solver can quickly identify that 3 x 4 = 12:

The fourth and final trick you can use to help you solve can be used with the divide step. In the example from the beginning of the lesson (also shown below), the solver was uncertain what number into which to divide. An easy way to help you remember what number to divide into is to highlight the number at the bottom of the problem immediately after you bring the next number down. This will draw your eyes to that number, and will help you remember that is the number you need to divide into:

Do these tips and tricks help remedy any problems you are having with long division? Can you think of any other tips or tricks to help you solve long division problems? Discuss these questions with your teacher or parent.

Once you are comfortable, move on to the Got It? section to practice solving a few problems using these strategies.

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