Although it is actually quite an easy calculation, many people have difficulty working out percentages because they forget the simple rules involved. Quickly brushing up on a few simple techniques may help you quickly work out how much tax you owe, for example. You need to know the basic rules even when working out percentages on a calculator, so learning them is almost essential in modern life. Here are some explanations with examples of how to work out percentages:

How to find out what percentage of a larger figure a smaller figure is:

For example, Fred, Harry and Tom split 75 apples between them. Fred has 30, Harry has 30 and Tom has 15. You want to know what percentage of the apples each of them has. The apples in total are equal to 100%. Therefore, to work out the smaller, component percentages, calculate how many times the total amount of apples fits into 100. To do this, you need to divide 100 by 75. The answer is 1 1/3. Now, to find out what percentage of the apples each of them has been given, multiply the amount of apples each of them has by 1 1/3. So, Fred has been given 40%, Harry has been given 40% and Tom has been given 20% of the apples.

How to find out what 100% of a quantity was before it was divided into smaller percentages:

For example, if you wanted to find out how many apples there were in total before Fred, Harry and Tom split them, you could work this out from the quantity and percentage of apples that any one of them were given. So, if you knew that Fred, for example, had 40% of the apples having been given 30, you could work out the total amount of apples from this. First, work out how many times 40 goes into 100 (100/40). The answer is 2 1/2. To find out 100% of the apples, you now just need to multiply the amount of apples Fred has by 2 1/2. 2 1/2 x 30 = 75 which is 100% of the apples.

How to find out how much a percent of a larger number a smaller figure is:

This is one of the most commonly used percentage calculations (used for calculating how much tax you need to pay, for example). To do this, you need to divide the total amount by 100 (to find out 1%) and multiply it by the known percentage to find the answer. For example, if you are to be charged 22% tax on your earnings, you will want to know how much of your earnings you need to pay to the tax man. Say you earned $12,000 in one tax year, first divide 12,000 by 100 to find the 1%. 12,000/100 = 120. Now, multiply 120 by 22 to find the full 22%. 120 x 22 = 2640. So, your tax bill of 22% for the year would be $2640.

Learning how to work out percentages in these ways often comes in useful in everyday life. For even quicker calculations with simple figures, it is also useful to remember percentages in terms of fractions of 100. For instance, 20% is 1/5, 25% is 1/4, 10% is 1/10 and so on. Then, if you need to quickly work out one of these percentages, you can quickly divide the total figure by 5, 4, 10 and so on. Practice doing a few percentage calculations also. Then, when you need to do them for real, you should have no problem.