What Basic Math Terms Should Every Student Know?

In their math classes, students will learn new, challenging terms at every grade level, and mastering math vocabulary is critical for success. Keep reading to learn about the math terms your child should know.

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Math Terms: Basic Words Every Student Needs to Know

Number Operations

The basic number operations include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and students should know the math term for the answer to each type of operation. For example, the answer to an addition problem is called a sum, and the solution to a subtraction problem is called the difference. When you solve a multiplication problem, you get the product, and division produces a quotient. It's also important to remember that, in a division problem, the number you're dividing by is called the divisor, and the number being divided is the dividend.


When your child is working with fractions, he or she will need to remember that the top number in a fraction is called the numerator, and the bottom number is called the denominator. When your child is dividing by a fraction, he or she will need to use a reciprocal, which is a fraction with its numerator and denominator reversed. For instance, the reciprocal of 1/6 is 6/1.


Some key geometry terms that students should be familiar with include perimeter (the distance around a 2-dimensional shape), area (the 2-dimensional space a shape takes up), radius (the distance from the center to the edge of a circle) and diameter (the length of a line that cuts a circle in half). Other important terms include circumference (the perimeter of a circle) and volume (the amount of 3-dimensional space an object takes up). In addition, your child should be familiar with angles, lines, line segments and rays.


In algebra, students will need to define terms like expression (a number, variable, operation or combination of operations) and equation (a mathematical statement that two expressions are equal). Your student should also know graphing terms, like x-axis (the horizontal line on a graph), y-axis (the vertical line on a graph) and coordinate point (a point on a graph).


Statistics deals with the collection, analysis, organization and interpretation of data. Students will need to know terms like mode (the most frequently occurring number in a data set), median (the middle number in a data set) and mean (the sum of all values in a data set divided by the total number of values in the data set).

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