Help with Short Division for Struggling Students

Short division can refer to 'mental math' division problems that you can do in your head, or it can refer to a method for solving more involved division problems. The following simple strategies can help you succeed with short division.

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Learning Short Division

How to Short Divide

If you've been learning long division in school, you may find short division to be a welcome change. Instead of writing out the whole long division process, you can simply divide the dividend by the divisor and then add any remainders to the dividend. To gain a better understanding of this process, let's see it in action.

Let's say you have the problem 894 ÷ 4. Using short division, you should divide four into eight, then write 'two' above the eight in 894. The next step is to divide four into nine. Because four goes into nine twice, you write another two above the nine, and then write the remainder (one) as a little number to the right of the nine in 894.

Now, you divide four into 14 because you're looking at the remainder (1) as well as the final number in 894 (4). Because 14÷ 4 = 3.5, the final answer is 223.5.

What's the Difference?

This process may sound very similar to the steps in long division, but here you don't have to bring any numbers down, subtract or multiply. Short division takes up less space on your scrap paper, and can be visualized much easier than all the steps in long division. By practicing short division problems over and over, you can begin to solve them in your head. Just break up a long number into smaller numbers that you can divide using mental math, the same as you would with a pencil and paper.

Practice Problems

Here are some problems you can use to work on your short division skills. Use a paper and pencil to write out the steps:

  1. 897 ÷ 34
  2. 492 ÷ 12
  3. 766 ÷ 5
  4. 309 ÷ 90
  5. 523 ÷ 34


  1. 26.4
  2. 41
  3. 153.2
  4. 3.4
  5. 15.4

Mental Math

You learn to divide in your head by reversing your multiplication tables and turning them into division. Let's say you have the problem 12 ÷ 4. You can solve this in your head by simply asking yourself, 'What number times four equals 12?' This is when knowing your times tables can come to the rescue. You'll remember that 3 x 4 = 12, which means that 12 ÷ 4 = 3. You can use this process on any division problem up to 12 if you know your times tables.

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