Sum/product of consecutive numbers and other math shortcuts

If you have studied some of the old SAT questions at some point you may have gone through questions like –

4 consecutive numbers sum to 166. What is the product of the numbers? or…

3 consecutive even numbers sum to X. What is their product?

The way the tutors and the online tutorials show seems to always be to algebraically solve this – for example 4 consecutive numbers would solve x+x+1+x+2+x+3 = 166, collect terms and solve…

However there is another way that works for this and works for other similar problems.

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Microsoft Math Solver review

Years ago if you wanted a program to explain steps in mathematics, algebra or other complex math as a tutor would, you would have to buy a specialized software package built for some specific operating system (I forget the name… it may still be around?) Of course there was always open source software like Maxima to do powerful symbolic (or numeric, or graphing) math, but to know what to do one almost needs a manual, and while extremely powerful it was not helpful for beginners. I recently found a similarly useful free math solver on Microsoft’s site,

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