Elementary Math: Understanding Probability
Probability is the math of chances. It may be tricky at first, but this will turn out to be a type of math that you will need throughout your life, so it's best to learn it well. Here are some sample problems and examples from real life to smooth the transition to mastering the math of probability.
Learning Probability
What Is Probability?
Probability measures how likely it is that something will happen. A question might be, how likely is it that the day of the week will begin with an 's'? Well, of course there are seven days in every week, and only Saturday and Sunday begin with 's', so there's a 2/7 chance of landing on a 's' day.
Make Models
One way to visualize probability is to make a pie chart. You can draw one yourself or print one from the Internet. To make your own, use a protractor to draw a large circle on a piece of paper. Divide the circle into four equal quadrants and shade each quarter in with a different color crayon or marker. Let's say you have green, red, purple and orange quadrants.
What are the changes of spinning the circle and landing on a red quadrant? The chance of landing on a red quadrant is the same as the chance of landing on any of the other quadrants, because there are only four and they are all of equal size. The probability is one in four, or 1/4.
Practice Problems
 What is the chance of choosing a number including the digit 'three' from a bag that contains the numbers 125?
 Are you more likely to flip a coin and get 'heads' or win a raffle with 20 people playing?
 If there are two girls and three boys playing with a ball, what chance does a girl have of holding the ball at any given moment, assuming they all share the ball equally?
Answers
 3/25
 You're more likely to get 'heads' because that's a one in two (1/2) chance, whereas the likelihood of winning the raffle is one out of 20 (1/20).
 2/5
Reallife Examples
Probability is one of the math units that we use the most in our everyday lives. Imagine you need to catch a train to the airport for a flight at 5:00 pm. How do you decide which train to take? You have to ask yourself which train will leave latest with the greatest chance of getting you to your flight on time.
If there's a train at 3:00 pm and one at 3:30 pm, you have to evaluate all the possible factors. For instance, traffic and possible train delays help to determine the probability of missing your flight. In the end, you may decide it is a better idea to leave at 3:00.
Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Is your child struggling with math in elementary school? You may be able to get him or her excited about learning math by using an educational app on your iPad, iPhone, Android or other mobile device. Here are ten apps for elementary school children that may hold the key to math success.

Too much anxiety about tests can be debilitating and result in poor performance. It can interfere with studying, cause difficulty with learning new material and even have a negative effective on a child's social interactions
We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In
Huntington Learning
 What Huntington Learning offers:
 Online and incenter tutoring
 One on one tutoring
 Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
K12
 What K12 offers:
 Online tutoring
 Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
 AdvancEDaccredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Kaplan Kids
 What Kaplan Kids offers:
 Online tutoring
 Customized learning plans
 RealTime Progress Reports track your child's progress
Kumon
 What Kumon offers:
 Incenter tutoring
 Individualized programs for your child
 Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
Sylvan Learning
 What Sylvan Learning offers:
 Online and incenter tutoring
 Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
 Regular assessment and progress reports
Tutor Doctor
 What Tutor Doctor offers:
 InHome tutoring
 One on one attention by the tutor
 Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
TutorVista
 What TutorVista offers:
 Online tutoring
 Student works oneonone with a professional tutor
 Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations