Adding Whole Numbers

The first step with math is working with whole numbers, which are concrete. Adding whole numbers is a great place to start. Initially, people are taught to add using objects. However, adding for your exam does require you know how to do this on paper.

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Necessary Skills

Depending on the problem, the below skills may be necessary. However, it is doubtful you will need to use them on an actual math GED® exam.

The Idea of Collecting

The difficult central concept for adding whole numbers involves collecting. Collecting the mathematical term for what you may have learned as carrying in school. During this process, if a column adds up to more than ten, then you write the ones place down and bring the tens place to the next column to the left. Do not carry more than one column.

This process repeats as often as necessary since each column is its own step in an addition problem. It’s vital that you do not confuse the places, since writing the tens spot and carrying the ones spot will lead to a wrong answer.

The Steps for Adding Whole Numbers

The first step with any addition problem is lining up the places into columns. You will need to line numbers up based on the rightmost spot, which is the ones place. Any space that does not have a number in it is assumed to be a zero.

Once all the columns line up neatly, it’s time to perform the actual math. You will start with the rightmost column and ignore the other columns until you’re done with that one. Add the two numbers together. If the number is less than 10, simply write it below the column. If the number is 10 or higher, you will need to carry. Then you move into the next rightmost column and repeat.

If you want to add more than two numbers at a time (ex. 23+45+21), you have two options. You can add the first two numbers, get that answer, and then add the original third. Your second option is to combine all three at the same time, which works if you make sure you’ve lined all the numbers based on the ones spot.

Example Problems for Adding Whole Numbers

Let’s start with a simple problem, 25+3. When we line this up, the 3 will go under the 5. To begin, we would add the 5 and the 3, for a total of eight. Since that’s less than 10, we can simply write it down. Then we bring the 2 down since there’s nothing else in the column. That makes the answer 28.

adding whole numbers example 1

Another example of adding whole numbers is 23+45. We would line this up so that the 5 is under the 3 and the 4 is under the 2. Since we start from the ones column, that’s 8. That’s less than 10, so there’s no carrying. Then we add the 2 and the 4 in the tens column, which comes to 6. That makes our final answer 68.

adding whole numbers example 2

Now let’s do a little collecting with 23+19. The 9 goes under the 3 and the 1 goes under the 2 when you set it up. Then you add 3 and 9 from the ones column, which is 12. Since that’s over ten, you would right the 2 under the ones column and carry the 1 to the tens column. Then add the 1 and 2 from the tens column for 3, followed by adding the carried 1 for a total of 4. The final answer is 42.

adding whole numbers example 3

Let’s try adding in another complication with 94+27. When we add 4 and 7, that gives us 11. We write one those under the ones column and carry the other to the tens column. Then we add 9 and 2, which is 11, followed by the carried 1. That gives us 12. Since there are no more columns to carry to, we would write down the 12. That makes the final answer 121.

adding whole numbers example 4

For our final example, let’s do 182+49. Adding the ones column gives us 11, so we write one and carry 1. Then add the tens column gives us 12 plus the 1 we carried, so 13. We would write the 3 and carry the 1 to the hundreds column. In the hundreds column, we add the carried 1 to the existing 1, for a total of two. Altogether, the answer is 231.

adding whole numbers example 5