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Students learn to compare decimals by first lining up the decimals, then comparing numbers place-by-place, starting on the left. For example, to compare 17.456 and 17.501, the 1's in the tens place are the same, and the 7's in the units place are the same. However, in the tenths place, 4 < 5. Therefore, 17.456 < 17.501.