Becoming an Expert at Mental Calculations with Your Fingers

how to be an expert at doing calculations on fingers


In our modern world, where calculators and computers are readily available, mental calculations may seem like a lost art. However, the ability to perform quick calculations mentally can still be a valuable skill, whether you’re calculating tips, estimating expenses, or solving everyday math problems. One fascinating technique that can enhance mental calculations is using your fingers as an intuitive and efficient tool. In this article, we will explore how to become an expert at doing calculations on your fingers, empowering you with a handy mental math tool wherever you go.

The Power of Finger-Based Calculation

Our fingers provide a tangible and visual representation of numbers, which can aid in mental calculations. By associating each finger with a specific value, we can perform calculations with ease. The use of finger-based calculation techniques, also known as “finger math,” dates back centuries and has been practiced by various cultures around the world. This method allows you to tap into your innate number sense and spatial awareness, enabling you to perform calculations swiftly and accurately.

Assigning Values to Fingers

To begin, we assign numerical values to each finger. Start with the thumb representing one (1), followed by the index finger for two (2), the middle finger for three (3), the ring finger for four (4), and finally, the pinky finger for five (5). For higher values, we can utilize both hands, with the left hand representing tens and the right hand representing units. For example, if you want to represent 38, you would touch the thumb of your left hand with the ring finger of your right hand. This simple system forms the foundation of finger-based calculations.

Addition and Subtraction Techniques

To perform addition, you can physically touch the fingers representing the numbers you want to add together. For instance, to calculate 7 + 5, touch the ring finger of your left hand (representing 7) with the pinky finger of your right hand (representing 5). Count the number of touched fingers on both hands: the left hand has three fingers, and the right hand has two, resulting in 32.

Subtraction can be achieved by the reverse process. If you want to calculate 9 – 4, touch the pinky finger of your left hand (representing 9) and fold down the index finger of your right hand (representing 4). Count the remaining fingers on your left hand: one thumb and three fingers, resulting in 5.

Multiplication and Division Techniques

Multiplication using finger math involves combining fingers from both hands. To multiply 6 by 7, touch the ring finger of your left hand (representing 6) with the ring finger of your right hand (representing 7). Count the number of fingers touching on both hands, which is four, and multiply this by 10 (representing the fingers not in contact) to get the final result of 40 + 20 = 42.

For division, you utilize a similar approach but in reverse. To divide 63 by 9, touch the pinky finger of your left hand (representing 63) with the ring finger of your right hand (representing 9). Count the number of fingers touching on your left hand, which is seven, and divide it by the number of fingers on your right hand, which is four. The result is 1, with a remainder of 3, indicating 63 divided by 9 equals 7 with a remainder of 3.


Mastering mental calculations using your fingers can transform you into a human calculator, allowing you to perform quick calculations with ease and efficiency. With practice, you’ll develop a strong mental number sense and spatial awareness that will enhance your overall mathematical skills. Finger math is a fun and interactive way to engage with numbers, making math more tangible and enjoyable. So, the next time you find yourself without a calculator, remember that your fingers can be your trusted tools for mental calculations, empowering you to solve problems wherever you are. Embrace this ancient technique and become a modern-day expert at doing calculations on your fingers.

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