Partial Quotients Division - A Guide to the New Long Division For Parents and Learners

The way long division is taught in many schools has changed - it's very likely that your child will learn to divide ‘using partial quotients’ and we so often hear from parents that it leaves them feeling a bit bewildered. 

Don’t worry though, you've come to the right place for help - and the good news is that although it sounds complicated, it really is quite simple.

Why change from long division?

Division using partial quotients is the new method for long division that's been taught in schools for the last 10 years or so.

“So, what's wrong with good old long division?” I hear you ask - well, quite a lot, actually. The main issue is that long division provided answers without understanding. To kids it was like some kind of mathematical voodoo - do this, do that, then this and your answer goes here...

And what's wrong with that? Well, educationally it's much better if kids understand where the answer comes from.

So, what is division using partial quotients?

Partial quotients division is simply a different (and to many, new)  way to divide big numbers. It may sound a little scary at first, but it's really quite simple.

Here's a real life example of dividing using partial quotients - as illustrated in the video above.

Imagine someone gives you 620 pieces of candy to share out among 14 kids. You don't have to know the exact answer to start sharing - you simply start handing them out in batches making sure you don't exceed the total.

So you start by giving out, say, 20 each - that's 280 gone and 340 left. So you give out 20 each again. That's another 280 gone. So we have 560 gone in total, and there's 60 left. Finally, you give out 4 each (14 lots of 4 = 56) and there's a remainder of 4.

The answer to 620 divided by 14 is  20 + 20 + 4 = 44 remainder 4. Each child gets 44 pieces of candy and they fight over the remaining 4.

The Komodo level ‘Dividing Big Numbers’ teaches division using partial quotients. The guidance video above is taken from this level.

That's all there is to this new way of dividing. You've almost certainly used it already!


I'm Ged, co-founder of Komodo, ex-math teacher and dad. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

About Komodo - Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost K-5 math skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy family routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in math - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at math - you can even try Komodo for free.

And now we've got Komodo English too - check it out here.

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