What is Elapsed Time? - Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is Magnitude? - Definition & Concept

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Defining Elapsed Time
  • 1:24 Elapsed Time Number Line
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Kimberly Osborn
Expert Contributor
Laura Pennington

Laura received her Master's degree in Pure Mathematics from Michigan State University. She has 15 years of experience teaching collegiate mathematics at various institutions.

Elapsed time is simply the amount of time that passes from the beginning of an event to its end. In this lesson, you will learn how to solve for elapsed time and explore how it can be used in your everyday life.

Defining Elapsed Time

Say it is currently 3:35pm in the afternoon and you are supposed to meet your best friend for dinner at 6:20pm. Before you leave your house you have to clean your room, shower, get dressed, and still have time to get to your friend's house. Do you just wing it and hope you make it there on time? Or do you use your awesome math skills to figure out how much time you have to finish all of your tasks and arrive for dinner at 6:20pm?

Elapsed time is the amount of time that passes from the start of an event to its finish. In simplest terms, elapsed time is how much time goes by from one time (say 3:35pm) to another (6:20pm).

An important tool that goes hand and hand with elapsed time is the clock. Here are a few things we need to remember before we move on to calculating elapsed time.

Clock

  • The hour hand on the clock is the shorter hand.
  • The minute hand on the clock is the longer hand.
  • We read time by looking at the hour hand first and then counting the minute hand.
  • Each number on the clock equals five minutes.

Now, there can be some difficulty when you try to just count in your head to figure out how much time has gone by, or elapsed. Instead of just jumping straight into using mental math (something that can increase our possibility for errors), we are going to learn about a really cool and easy way that we can organize our reasoning and make us experts in no time at solving for elapsed time.

Elapsed Time Number Line

Let's look back at the example. We know that it is currently 3:35pm, and we have to be at dinner at 6:20pm. This means our start time is 3:35pm and our end time is 6:20pm.

The first thing you always do when solving for elapsed time is to figure out your start time and end time. Once you have your important times, your next step is to draw a number line with these times.

Number Line

Now, people might differ on how they use their number line, but in our case, we are going follow a procedure that I think is the easiest to visualize. First, we are going to count to the nearest hour after our start time of 3:35pm. Looking at a clock, we know that the next hour to pass would be 4:00pm. So counting from 3:35 to 4:00 we see that there are 25 minutes between the two times. We are going to label this on our number line.

Number line from 3:35pm to 4pm

Our next step is to figure out the nearest hour before our end time. Looking at a clock, we know that the closest hour before 6:20pm would be 6:00pm. So, counting from 6:00pm to 6:20pm, we see that there are 20 minutes between the two times. We are going to label this on our number line.

Number line from 6pm to 6:20pm

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Additional Activities

Elapsed Time Fill in the Blanks Activity

Reminders

  • Elapsed time is the amount of time that passes between the start of an event and the end of the event.
  • We can calculate elapsed time using a number of different techniques, one of which is the number line on which we break up the time intervals between the start time and end time of an event in to easy to calculate intervals, and then add up those intervals to determine the total elapsed time.

Directions:

Fill in the blanks with the correct elapsed times in the story.

Story:

Chevon, Mickey, and Keri are running in a 50 mile ultra trail race. The start time of the race is 8:00AM, and there is a 12 hour cutoff time for all participants. Each of these runners races go as follows:

  • Chevon starts the race at 8:00AM. She reaches the aid station at the 17 mile mark at 11:24 AM, so she ran the first 17 miles in _____. She continues on, and reaches the aid station at 33 miles at 2:28 PM, so she completed mile 17 to 33 in _____. She ends up reaching the finish line at 7:40 PM, so she completed mile 33 to 50 in _____.
  • Mickey starts the race at 8:00AM. She reaches the aid station at the 17 mile mark at 10:58 AM, so she ran the first 17 miles in _____. She continues on, and reaches the aid station at 33 miles at 2:10 PM, so she completed mile 17 to 33 in _____. She reaches the finish line at 5:51 PM, so she completed mile 33 to 50 in _____.
  • Keri starts the race at 8:00AM. She reaches the aid station at the 17 mile mark at 11:15 AM, so she ran the first 17 miles in _____. She continues on, and reaches the aid station at 33 miles at 2:27 PM, so she completed mile 17 to 33 in _____. She reaches the finish line at 6:32PM, so she completed mile 33 to 50 in _____.
  • Of these three runners, _____ took first place in _____, _____ took second place in _____, and _____ took third place in _____.

Solutions:

Chevon's Race:

  • Blank 1: 3 hours and 24 minutes
  • Blank 2: 3 hours and 4 minutes
  • Blank 3: 5 hours and 12 minutes

Mickey's Race:

  • Blank 1: 2 hours and 58 minutes
  • Blank 2: 3 hours and 12 minutes
  • Blank 3: 3 hours and 41 minutes

Keri's Race:

  • Blank 1: 3 hours and 15 minutes
  • Blank 2: 3 hours and 12 minutes
  • Blank 3: 4 hours and 5 minutes

Race Results:

  • Blank 1: Mickey
  • Blank 2: 9 hours and 51 minutes
  • Blank 3: Keri
  • Blank 4: 10 hours and 32 minutes
  • Blank 5: Chevon
  • Blank 6: 11 hours and 40 minutes

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support