The player's objective is simple: solve basic arithmetic problems. Game variations determine whether the player solves addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems, and whether he/she could select the top number (the console randomly selects the lower number).
The player uses the joystick to enter a guess, with sound effects signaling whether it is right or wrong.
Basic Math was reviewed in Video magazine as part of a general review of the Atari VCS. It was described as "very basic" with reviewers drolly noting that "the controls of this game may be a little more complicated than the actual problems", and the game was scored a 5 out of 10.:33