Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2012
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Mathemagics -- Mental Math Tricks

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Boost speed and impress friends with quality math tricks

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: The list of mental math tricks is impressively extensive, and the explanations are amazingly easy to follow.

Cons: There's some organization of tricks, but it would be better if they were listed in order of easiest to most challenging.

Bottom Line: High-quality mental math tricks app provides real solutions for students seeking to increase computation speed.

Whether it's teachers or students using Mathemagics, this app will likely impress most math enthusiasts –- and maybe create some new math fans out of students who once thought math was hard but who now know ways to breeze through problems with these new mental math skills.

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Mathemagics - Mental Math Tricks is an app that shares math tricks and shortcuts with students. For middle and high school kids seeking to increase speed in math for standardized tests or college test prep, it's a one-stop shop for dozens upon dozens of tricks explained in detail. They range from the very straightforward, such as the two-step trick for "Easily Multiply Any Number By 9," to the five-step shortcut for "Large Number Subtraction" and everything in between. Tricks are divided into six categories: Standard, Turbo Boost, Divisibility, Perfect Squares, Casting Out Nines, and Casting Out Elevens.

Kids can choose from three modes of play: Learn, Practice, and Play. In Learn, kids choose a trick to learn from a list by tapping Tricks. Tricks ranging from multiplication to perfect squares pop up with step-by-step explanations to read.  Review tricks in Practice mode by once again choosing a trick from the same list and answering a number of multiple-choice practice problems. If kids aren't getting the correct answers, they can view the lesson from that mode again. In Play mode, kids answer tricks in random order. Only basic math skills in addition, subtraction, simple multiplication, and division are needed to learn any of these tricks, many of which focus on ways to speed up basic math skills learned in second through sixth grades.

Although the app states that you only need to know the four basic operations, many students will need to review and possibly master those basic skills acquired in elementary and early middle school grades before they're ready to tackle some of these tricks and use them on tests, in homework, or to impress friends (players can share high scores via the Game Center social network). Also note that this app isn't just for students. The developer of Mathemagics suggests: "Teachers, inspire your students as you pull answers to math problems out of thin air." There are so many tricks here that even seasoned math teachers may learn one or two new shortcuts.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids who naturally gravitate toward math are likely to find the multitude of well-explained tricks and shortcuts on this app (as well as the game testing those newfound skills) engaging and fun.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

A deep knowledge of basic math skills is needed to even begin with these sometimes complex tricks, but kids will feel empowered when they do grasp the concepts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The excellent tutorials use clear, step-by-step graphics. Progress data includes number of correct answers overall, as well as within each method.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Kkent ,
Great product for students who finish early.
Something to have students use when they have finished the concepts, and can use additional challenge.
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