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4 6 Percentage

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I know there are many people who struggle on how to properly count percentages. So, I thought it would be a good idea to share how I break it down for my students.

Other than being helpful with learning percentages and fractions, this tool is useful in many different situations. You can find percentages in almost every aspect of your life! Anyone who has ever been to the shopping mall has surely seen dozens of signs with a large percentage symbol saying "discount!". And this is only one of many other examples of percentages. They frequently appear, e.g., in finance where we used them to find an amount of income tax or sales tax, or in health to express what is your body fat. Keep reading if you would like to see how to find a percentage of something, what the percentage formula is, and the applications of percentages in other areas of life, like statistics or physics.

Percentage is one of many ways to express a dimensionless relation of two numbers (the other methods being ratios, described in our ratio calculator, and fractions). Percentages are very popular since they can describe situations that involve large numbers (e.g., estimating chances for winning the lottery), average (e.g., determining final grade of your course) as well as very small ones (like volumetric proportion of NOâ‚‚ in the air, also frequently expressed by PPM - parts per million). (Source: www.omnicalculator.com)

Due to inconsistent usage, it is not always clear from the context what a percentage is relative to. When speaking of a "10% rise" or a "10% fall" in a quantity, the usual interpretation is that this is relative to the initial value of that quantity. For example, if an item is initially priced at $200 and the price rises 10% (an increase of $20), the new price will be $220. Note that this final price is 110% of the initial price (100% + 10% = 110%).

In the case of interest rates, a very common but ambiguous way to say that an interest rate rose from 10% per annum to 15% per annum, for example, is to say that the interest rate increased by 5%, which could theoretically mean that it increased from 10% per annum to 10.05% per annum. It is clearer to say that the interest rate increased by 5 percentage points (pp). The same confusion between the different concepts of percent(age) and percentage points can potentially cause a major misunderstanding when journalists report about election results, for example, expressing both new results and differences with earlier results as percentages. For example, if a party obtains 41% of the vote and this is said to be a 2.5% increase, does that mean the earlier result was 40% (since 41 = 40 × (1 + (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

As your maths skills develop, you can begin to see other ways of arriving at the same answer. The laptop example above is quite straightforward and with practise, you can use your mental maths skills to think about this problem in a different way to make it easier. In this case, you are trying to find 20%, so instead of finding 1% and then multiplying it by 20, you can find 10% and then simply double it. We know that 10% is the same as 1/10th and we can divide a number by 10 by moving the decimal place one place to left (removing a zero from 500). Therefore 10% of £500 is £50 and 20% is £100.

The word "percentage" is often a misnomer in the context of sports statistics, when the referenced number is expressed as a decimal proportion, not a percentage: "The Phoenix Suns' Shaquille O'Neal led the NBA with a .609 field goal percentage (FG%) during the 2008–09 season." (O'Neal made 60.9% of his shots, not 0.609%.) Likewise, the winning percentage of a team, the fraction of matches that the club has won, is also usually expressed as a decimal proportion; a team that has a .500 winning percentage has won 50% of their matches. The practice is probably related to the similar way that batting averages are quoted. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Although Ancient Romans used Roman numerals I, V, X, L, and so on, calculations were often performed in fractions that were divided by 100. It was equivalent to the computing of percentages that we know today. Computations with a denominator of 100 became more standard after the introduction of the decimal system. Many medieval arithmetic texts applied this method to describe finances, e.g., interest rates. However, the percent sign % we know today only became popular a little while ago, in the 20th century, after years of constant evolution.

As your maths skills develop, you can begin to see other ways of arriving at the same answer. The laptop example above is quite straightforward and with practise, you can use your mental maths skills to think about this problem in a different way to make it easier. In this case, you are trying to find 20%, so instead of finding 1% and then multiplying it by 20, you can find 10% and then simply double it. We know that 10% is the same as 1/10th and we can divide a number by 10 by moving the decimal place one place to left (removing a zero from 500). Therefore 10% of £500 is £50 and 20% is £100. (Source: www.skillsyouneed.com)