Mastering the Math: How to Calculate Percentage Increase (Like a Pro!)

Understanding percentages is a fundamental life skill, especially when it comes to navigating finances, discounts, and growth tracking. But within the realm of percentages, calculating increases can feel a bit tricky. Fear not, knowledge seekers! This comprehensive guide will equip you with the formula, steps, and real-life examples to conquer percentage increase calculations with ease.

Why is Calculating Percentage Increase Important?

Percentage increases are everywhere! From tracking your investment growth to snagging the best deals during sales, this calculation unlocks valuable insights. Here are some key situations where calculating percentage increase comes in handy:

  • Finance & Investments: Monitor the growth of your stocks, mutual funds, or property value by calculating the percentage increase over time.
  • Sales & Discounts: Identify the true value of a discount by calculating the percentage decrease from the original price.
  • Business & Marketing: Analyze sales growth, website traffic increase, or customer base expansion by calculating the percentage increase over a specific period.
  • Personal Growth & Goals: Track your progress towards fitness goals (weight loss, muscle gain), language learning, or skill development by calculating the percentage increase in your performance.

Unveiling the Formula: Demystifying Percentage Increase

The magic formula for calculating a percentage increase revolves around three key elements:

  1. New Value (NV): This represents the final value after the increase.
  2. Original Value (OV): This represents the starting value before the increase.

Here's the formula:

Percentage Increase = (NV - OV) / OV x 100%

Breaking it Down:

  1. Calculate the Difference: Subtract the original value (OV) from the new value (NV). This gives you the amount of the increase.
  2. Divide by the Original Value: Divide the difference obtained in step 1 by the original value (OV). This gives you a decimal representing the relative increase.
  3. Convert to Percentage: Multiply the decimal obtained in step 2 by 100 to express the increase as a percentage.


  • The answer will always be a positive value as we're calculating an increase.
  • If you encounter a negative result, it signifies a decrease, not an increase.

Step-by-Step Guide: Putting the Formula into Action

Let's solidify your understanding with a practical example! Imagine you purchased a shirt for $20 last month, and its price has now increased to $25. Here's how to calculate the percentage increase:

  1. Identify Values:

    • New Value (NV) = $25 (Current price)
    • Original Value (OV) = $20 (Original price)
  2. Calculate the Difference:

    • Difference (NV - OV) = $25 - $20 = $5
  3. Divide by the Original Value:

    • Relative Increase = $5 / $20 = 0.25
  4. Convert to Percentage:

    • Percentage Increase = 0.25 x 100% = 25%

Therefore, the price of the shirt has increased by 25%.

Pro Tip: Don't have a calculator handy? No worries! You can estimate the percentage increase by converting the original value (OV) to a round number ending in a 0 or 5 (e.g., if OV = $18, estimate it as $20). Then, divide the difference (NV - OV) by the estimated original value and multiply by 100 for an approximate percentage increase.

Real-World Examples: Percentage Increase in Action

Now that you've mastered the formula, let's explore some real-world scenarios where calculating percentage increase proves beneficial:

Example 1: Tracking Investment Growth

You invest $10,000 in a stock, and after a year, it's worth $12,000. What's the percentage increase in your investment?

  • Solution:
    • New Value (NV) = $12,000 (Current value of the stock)
    • Original Value (OV) = $10,000 (Initial investment)
    • Percentage Increase = ($12,000 - $10,000) / $10,000 x 100% = 20%

Therefore, your investment has grown by 20% in a year.

Example 2: Snagging the Best Deals During Sales

A jacket you've been eyeing is originally priced at $150. During a sale, it's marked down to $120. What's the percentage discount?

  • Solution:

Here, we need to calculate the percentage decrease (discount) from the original price. We can still use the same formula, but we'll swap the positions of the original and new values to reflect the decrease.

* New Value (NV) = $120 (Discounted price)
* Original Value (OV) = $150 (Original price)
* Percentage Decrease (Discount) = (OV - NV) / OV x 100%
 = ($150 - $120) / $150 x 100%
 = 20%

Therefore, the jacket has a 20% discount.

Pro Tip: When analyzing sales and discounts, a higher percentage decrease translates to a greater saving.

Example 3: Monitoring Website Traffic Growth

Last month, your website received 5,000 visitors. This month, the traffic has increased to 6,250 visitors. What's the percentage increase in website traffic?

  • Solution:
    • New Value (NV) = 6,250 (Visitors this month)
    • Original Value (OV) = 5,000 (Visitors last month)
    • Percentage Increase = (NV - OV) / OV x 100% = (6,250 - 5,000) / 5,000 x 100% = 25%

There's been a 25% increase in website traffic this month, indicating potential audience growth or successful marketing efforts.

Beyond the Basics: Additional Tips and Tricks

  • Percentage Points vs. Percentage Change: While percentage increase refers to the relative change compared to the original value, percentage points simply represent the difference between two percentages.

For instance, if the inflation rate was 2% last year and jumps to 4% this year, the inflation rate has increased by 2 percentage points (4% - 2%).

  • Handling Negative Values: If the new value (NV) is less than the original value (OV), the result will be a negative number. This signifies a percentage decrease, not an increase.

  • Using Spreadsheets and Calculators: Most spreadsheet software (e.g., Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets) and calculators have built-in functions for calculating percentages. Utilize these tools for faster calculations, especially when dealing with large datasets.

Conquer Everyday Math with Confidence

By mastering the art of calculating percentage increase, you'll unlock a valuable skill applicable to various aspects of your life. From making informed financial decisions to tracking progress towards your goals, this knowledge empowers you to navigate everyday situations with greater confidence. So, the next time you encounter a percentage increase scenario, remember the formula, follow the steps, and conquer the calculation with ease!

Bonus Tip: Sharpen your skills with practice! There are many online resources offering percentage increase practice problems. Test your understanding and solidify your grasp of this essential concept.

Expanding Your Toolkit: Advanced Applications of Percentage Increase

Now that you've mastered the fundamental calculation, let's explore some advanced applications of percentage increase that go beyond basic scenarios.

1. Calculating Percentage Increase Over Multiple Periods:

Imagine you're tracking the monthly sales growth of your online store. You have sales data for the past three months:

  • Month 1: $1,000
  • Month 2: $1,200
  • Month 3: $1,500

Challenge: Calculate the percentage increase in sales for each month compared to the previous month.


We can utilize the same formula but adjust the original value (OV) for each month to reflect the previous month's sales.

  • Month 2:

    • New Value (NV) = $1,200 (Sales in Month 2)
    • Original Value (OV) = $1,000 (Sales in Month 1)
    • Percentage Increase = ($1,200 - $1,000) / $1,000 x 100% = 20%
  • Month 3:

    • New Value (NV) = $1,500 (Sales in Month 3)
    • Original Value (OV) = $1,200 (Sales in Month 2)
    • Percentage Increase = ($1,500 - $1,200) / $1,200 x 100% = 25%

Therefore, your sales increased by 20% in Month 2 and a further 25% in Month 3 compared to the previous months, respectively.

2. Calculating Percentage Increase from a Percentage Change:

Sometimes, you might encounter situations where you have a percentage change value but need to calculate the resulting percentage increase. Here's how to tackle this scenario:

Scenario: The price of a used car has decreased by 15%. What was the original price if the current price is $17,000?


  1. Let X represent the original price of the car.
  2. We know the price has decreased by 15%, which can be expressed as a decimal: 1 - (decrease %) = 1 - 0.15 = 0.85 (represents 85% of the original price)
  3. We can set up an equation based on the given information:
    • Current price (discounted) = 0.85 * Original Price (X)
    • Substitute the current price: $17,000 = 0.85 * X
  4. Solve for X (original price):
    • Divide both sides by 0.85: X = $17,000 / 0.85 = $20,000

Therefore, the original price of the car was $20,000, resulting in a 15% decrease to reach the current price of $17,000.

3. Percentage Increase with Markup Rates:

In retail, markup rate refers to the percentage a store adds to the wholesale price to determine the selling price. Let's explore how to calculate the percentage increase using markup rate:

Scenario: A store buys a shirt at a wholesale price of $10 and applies a 50% markup rate. What's the selling price and the percentage increase from the wholesale price?


  1. Calculate the markup amount: Markup Rate (%) * Wholesale Price = 50% * $10 = $5
  2. Add the markup amount to the wholesale price to find the selling price: Selling Price = Wholesale Price + Markup Amount = $10 + $5 = $15
  3. Calculate the percentage increase from the wholesale price:
    • Percentage Increase = (Selling Price - Wholesale Price) / Wholesale Price x 100%
    • = ($15 - $10) / $10 x 100% = 50%

The selling price is $15, reflecting a 50% increase from the wholesale price due to the markup.

By understanding these advanced applications, you'll be well-equipped to handle various percentage increase scenarios you might encounter in everyday life or professional settings.

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