Dividing whole numbers is another essential math function that you need to master before moving on to complex operations. Dividing, like multiplying, has many steps that require practice to master.
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Necessary Skills for Dividing Whole Numbers
Depending on the problem, you may need the following skills. However, it’s unlikely you will need it on the actual math GED® exam.
Steps for Dividing Whole Numbers
There are multiple division methods, but this post is all about long division. Before beginning, let’s get you caught up on terms. The dividend is the leftmost number in a division problem, and it goes inside the “hut” on the problem. The number to the right of it is the divisor, which sits outside the division hut. The answer to the problem is the quotient.
A division problem looks dividend divided by divisor. When you go to do the problem, the dividend goes in the “hut” and the divisor goes outside on the left. You can remember this as the first number does in the hut and shuts the door on the second if images work for you.
It’s vital that you remember to keep columns lined up in long division problems when dividing whole numbers.
Now that you have the problem set up, you can begin. You’re going to ask yourself how many times the divisor goes into the leftmost number in the dividend. You’ll write how many times the divisor goes in up top over that digit of the dividend.
Then you’ll multiply the divisor by the number you just wrote down. That answer you will write under the digit you were using in the dividend. Then you will subtract the two, writing the answer underneath. At this point, you drag the next digit in the dividend down to that answer.
Then you ask how many times the divisor goes into the answer at the bottom of the problem. You’ll repeat this process as long as there are digits in the dividend, taking care to always write in the correct column on the quotient line up top.
You may find that the number you are trying to fit the divisor in is smaller than the divisor. That does not work. Instead, write a zero above that number on the quotient line. Then bring the next digit in the dividend into the problem.
Sometimes, numbers do not divide evenly. If you find you’ve run out of digits, but the bottom of the problem is not a 0, you have a remainder. Right now, it’s appropriate to write a capital R on the quotient line and move the number to the right of the letter.
Let’s look at some problems with dividing whole numbers to clear it up. Remember, it’s vital you keep your division problems as neat and lined up as possible.
For the first problem, let’s do 28 divided by 2. In this case, 28 is the dividend and 2 is the divisor. We’ll start by asking how many times 2 goes into 2. That 1 gets written above the 2 in the dividend. The 1 times the divisor is 2, and when we subtract it from the number in the dividend, we get to write a 0 underneath. Then we drag down the 8, ask ourselves how many times two goes into 8, and write the resulting 4 in the dividend line. From there 4 times the divisor 2 is 8, and when we subtract that 8 from the 8, we get 0. The final answer is 14.
For our next, let’s do 243 (dividend) divided by 3 (divisor). Once we have it set up, we realize 3 does not go into the 2, so we must consider how many times 3 goes into 24. The answer is 8, which we write above the 4. After subtracting and writing the resulting 0 at the bottom of the problem, we bring down the 3. The divisor 3 will go into that 1 time, which we write on the quotient line. That 3 minus 3 is 0, so the final answer is 81.
For our last example, let’s do 143 (dividend) divided by 5 (divisor). The 5 does not go into the 1, so we ask how many times 5 goes into 14. The answer, 2, goes onto the quotient line above the 4. Then 2 times 5 is 10, so we subtract that from 14 and write the 4 from that operation at the bottom of the problem. Since 5 doesn’t go into 4, we bring the 3 down to make 43. The divisor does go into that 8 times, which goes on the quotient line. Then we do 5 times 8, which is 40, and take that from 43. That makes our final answer 28R3.