Posted on 6 March 2017 by Nick Chubb

We all want to improve our maths but we’re all busy, and carving out hours of time to perfect long division is neither practical nor pleasurable. To help we’ve put together four ways you can improve your maths in just five minutes each day. You should think of your brain as a muscle; a little exercise every day is better than a marathon once a decade, so put the kettle on and check out our favourite five-minute maths exercises:


Have you ever gone round the supermarket gleefully filling your trolley and then been surprised at how much it all costs at the end? Next time you go shopping try estimating your total shopping bill before you reach the checkout. The benefits of this are two-fold: Research shows that the better you get at the “approximate number system” (i.e. guessing things) the better you get at the “symbolic number system” (i.e. doing actual maths), and if you realise you’ve overspent you can put back the gourmet cheese board before you get to the till. If you get so good at estimating your shopping bill that it’s no longer difficult, you can move on to estimating your bar tab before the end of the night for an added challenge!


We may have been around for a quarter of a millennium, but we love technology at Marine Society College, particularly anything that helps our learners. There are heaps of apps out there that challenge you with quick-fire maths problems. As well as being good fun, a few minutes on one of these games a day can drastically improve your mental maths skills and keep your brain quick and sharp.

We’ve been hard at work testing some free maths challenge apps this week and two of our favourites are:

10 minutes times tables has you racing to beat the clock with your times tables
    • 10 minutes a Day Times Tables (available on iOS here and Android here): We said five minutes a day in the title of this post, but we’re willing to make an exception in this case – this fun game will have you racing against the clock and against yourself using your multiplication skills.


      Fill in the blanks on Math Genius to gain time and stay in the game
    • Maths Genius (available on iOS here and Android here): This game will have you filling in the blanks on all sorts of maths problems against a countdown timer – get a question right and you’ll buy yourself a few extra seconds.

Our favourite thing about both of these apps is they are available offline – once you’ve downloaded them you can take them away to sea on your phone or tablet and keep playing, no problem.


You probably do this without realising all the time both at home and at work. Working out times, distances and speeds is not only a great way to keep your mental maths sharp, but you’re also strengthening your algebra:

  • It takes two-and-a-half hours to get to Southampton by car at an average speed of 50mph – how many miles away is Southampton?
  • We are picking up a pilot in six hours and we’re 40′ away from the pilot station – what does our average speed need to be to arrive on time?
  • You’re meeting a friend in town at 2pm, it’s five miles away and you can average 12mph cycling – what time do you need to leave?

Challenge yourself by making the problems more and more difficult, or giving yourself less and less time to come up with an answer.


Last year we conducted some research on learning and development for seafarers, and we found out the major barriers to learning while at sea are lack of time and a poor internet connection. With only a few hours off a day, most of which is spent sleeping, it’s impossible to sit down for hours at a time to work through a maths textbook. That’s why we designed our Learn@Sea courses to be accessed in bite-sized chunks; whether you want to spend five minutes dividing fractions or two minutes understanding brackets, we’ve got you covered across our two maths courses:

  • Maths@Sea, our foundation-level course covering numbers and arithmetic, algebra, and volume and space.
  • Maths@Sea+, our advanced-level course covering algebra, trigonometry, charts and bearings, and functions and calculus.

Our courses are also available offline – we have iOS and Android apps which you can download ashore and take away with you to sea. Your progress will be recorded in the app and synced with your Learn@Sea profile when you are next connected to the internet.

You can access our courses by subscribing here – it costs just £4.99/month for access to all of all of our award-winning content.

Do you have any five-minute maths tips you can share with us? Comment below, tweet us, or drop us a line through Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!