I would say without any shadow of a doubt it is a good knowledge of times tables if I were to be asked the most important skill associated with passing external examinations at age 16 or thereabouts. Through the 3 decades of my teaching career, We have run into numerous students (in both schools so when private students) who do not know their times tables at age 16 sufficiently in order to calculate things like a fifth of 45 or even the total period of 8 ropes, each 4.5 metres long.

times tables songsThe points I make have universal relevance across the whole world, even though i write as a teacher in the UK, so my examples relate specifically to this country. We have a system of examinations now where there is certainly nearly always a calculator examination paper and a noncalculator paper at each level from age twelve. So a good knowledge of tables is definitely needed in the noncalculator paper, but is of great benefit in the calculator paper too, as knowing that seven eights is fifty six is much less time consuming than having to press the appropriate buttons on a calculator. Inside an examination, seconds count.
A moment's thought will reveal many of the instances where times tables are used. Every money problem in any currency involving a multiplication ($12.67 x 9) or division (Discover the average of $34.50, $33.60, $59.90 and $46.80) uses times tables. Percentages (Find 17% of 12.50), fractions (cancel 45/75 to the lowest terms), geometry (discover the internal angles of any regular octagon), algebra (expand 7a(3a 6b 9c)) and speed problems (get the average speed of a car that travelled 960 kilometres in 8 hours) are just some of the numerous more examples available on examination papers.
One way of practising times tables is to complete random tables squares, i.e. tables squares where the numbers 110 are distributed randomly across the top of the table and along the lefthand side. I am just currently using a group of 8 and 9 year olds inside a local primary school, a number of whom can already complete this type of table correctly in approximately 5 minutes. At sixteen yrs old, the excellent majority of students should be able to easily beat that time  and acquire every one of them correct, obviously.
The question of whether times tables from 1 to 10 is enough often crops up. Should youngsters be aware of twelve and eleven times tables? 1 to 10 is sufficient for all examination work and I would then concentrate on learning the square numbers up to 20 x 20 as these are very useful for Pythagoras' Theorem if you live in a mostly metric country. If you live in a country still using inches and feet for everyday measurements, then you will probably need to learn tables up to 12 x 12.
So, if you or your youngsters are taking external examination some time soon, the one thing you could do to improve your performance more than anything else is to get those tables truly and well in the old brain box!
Alan Young is a teacher of mathematics for thirty years within both high and primary schools. they have worked within the private along with the public sector and coached a huge number of private students within this subject.
He has been accountable for a lot of mathematics material which is being utilized in over 18,000 schools throughout the uk and abroad.
Alan has two children of their own, three foster children (now adult) as well as a stepson, so has brought up six teenagers altogether.  times tables songs