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Whole Numbers Study Guide: GED Math

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Updated on Mar 23, 2011

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:

Numbers and Operations Practice Problems: GED Math

Whole Numbers and Their Place Value

Whole numbers are the counting numbers and zero: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,…Whole numbers are also sometimes called digits.

Each digit has a specific value. The position, or place, of a digit in a number written in standard form determines the value the digit represents.

The number 543,210 has a 5 in the hundred thousands place, a 4 in the ten thousands place, a 3 in the thousands place, a 2 in the hundreds place, a 1 in the tens place, and a 0 in the ones place.

The expanded form of a number is the sum (addition) of its various place values: 500,000 + 40,000 + 3,000 + 200 + 10 + 0.

Rounding Whole Numbers

On the GED, you may be asked to estimate your answer, which means to find an approximate answer. You can estimate by using rounded numbers. Numbers can be rounded to different place values. For example, to round to the nearest ten means to find the closest number having all zeros to the right of the tens place.

When the digit 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 appears to the right of the place you are rounding to, round up. When the digit 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 appears to the right of the place you are rounding to, round down.

Addition is used when you need to combine amounts. The answer in an addition problem is called the sum or total.

It is helpful to stack the numbers in a column when adding. Be sure to line up the place-value columns and to work from right to left, starting with the ones column.

Example

20 + 529 + 24 =

First, align the numbers you want to add on the ones column. Because it is necessary to work from right to left, begin to add starting with the ones column. The ones column equals 13, so write the 3 in the ones column and regroup or carry the 1 to the tens column:

Now, add the tens column, including the regrouped 1.

Finally, add the hundreds column. Because there is only one value, write the 5 in the answer.

Subtraction is used when you want to find the difference between amounts. Write the greater number on top, and align the amounts on the ones column. You may also need to regroup as you subtract. The answer in subtraction is called the difference.

Example

Find the difference between 36 and 75.

Start with the ones column. Because 5 is less than the number being subtracted (6), regroup or borrow a 10 from the tens column, leaving 6 tens. Add the regrouped amount to the ones column. Now, determine 15 – 6 in the ones column.

Regrouping 1 ten from the tens column left 6 tens. Subtract 3 from 6, and write the result in the tens column of your answer.