Mental Math Strategies

Multiplication by the distributive property

Practice Table of Contents

Introduction

The distributive property of multiplication over addition equates a product with a sum. By writing a sum that is more convenient than the product, we can use the distributive property as a strategy for mental multiplication.


Step by step | Multiplication by the distributive property

  1. Rewrite the product as an equivalent sum.
  2. Multiply each term in the sum.
  3. Add the terms to find the original product.

Example | Multiplication by the distributive property

Q: 12 × 23

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A: The product of 12 and 23 is easier as the sum 12×20 + 12×3:
12 × 20 = 240
12 × 3 = 36
12 × 23 = 240 + 36 = 276.

Practice | Multiplication by the distributive property