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Strategies for Solving Math Problems

Updated on January 29, 2012
Easy Math Problem
Easy Math Problem
Math Problem
Math Problem
Solving Math Problems Can Be Difficult
Solving Math Problems Can Be Difficult
 

Math story or word problems can be difficult at first glance but don't let the wording scare you. There are many tricks and helpful hints to use to help you solve that math problem. The best advice that I can give is to take it slow and don't get scared by what you are reading. Take these easy steps and you will be solving story/word problems in no time and with ease.

READ:

First read the problem completely so that you can get an understanding of what is being asked in the question. You might have to read the problem over again several times and out loud to truly understand what is being asked of you.

LIST:

List the important information from the problem; the variables, the numbers and the units of measures. Listing this information will help you to break down the problem even further. You will understand more of what is being asked of you in the problem and what your answer should look like.

DEFINE:

Define the answers that you need such as units of measure. If you understand that your answer is supposed to be in inches or in feet that will help you to understand what you are looking for and in some cases you might be given a problem in inches but your answer needs to be in feet so this will definitely clear up what you are looking for in your answer.

DRAW:

Draw a picture if necessary or if a picture is described in the problem. Drawing a picture is a way to bring the question/problem to life. A visual is important so that you are able to see the question. Sometimes drawing a picture is the "ah ha" moment. Drawing a picture might be the one thing that actually helps you to see what the question is all about.

KEY WORDS:

Key words can help you to understand what function needs to be applied in the problem to find the solution. Looking for key words can tell you whether you are supposed to add, subtract, multiply or divide. Look for key words given below:

Key words for addition

Increased by

More than

Combined together

Total of

Sum

Added to

Key words for subtraction

Less than

Fewer than

Reduced by

Decreased by

Difference of

Key words for multiplication

Of

Times

Multiplied by

Key words for division

Per

A

Out of

Ratio of

Quotient of

Percent (divide by 100)

WORK:

Do the work by following the steps given in the story/word problem. Following the steps above and referring to the key words. Work slowly and once you have finished read over the story/word problem to make sure that you followed the steps carefully.

EXAMPLE:

Story/Word Problem:

Steve walked from Town A to Town B. It took 1 hour 25 minutes to walk from Town A to Town C. Then it took 25 minutes to walk from Town C to Town B. He arrived in Town B at 2:45 P.M. At what time did he leave Town A?

Now we need to look over our steps to solve.

What do you need to find?

You need to find what the time was when Steve left Town A.

How can you solve the problem?

You can work backwards from the time Steve reached Town B. Subtract the time it took to walk from Town C to Town B. Then subtract the time it took to walk from Town A to Town C.

Solve the problem

Start at 2:45. This is the time Steve reached Town B.

Subtract 25 minutes. This is the time it took to get from Town C to Town B.

Time is: 2:20 P.M.

Subtract: 1 hour 25 minutes. This is the time it took to get from Town A to Town C.

Steve left Town A at 12:55 P.M.

Problem solved

Using these steps will insure that you will understand and be able to solve the story/word problem and become a pro at deciphering the story/word problem code.

Introduction to Solving Word Problems

The Five Parts To a Word Problem

A One Unknown Word Problem

Comments

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    • profile image

      Ashley 

      3 years ago

      I'm looking for a math tutor for my son right now, but until then it's up to me to help him. I was never very good at math myself, so these tips are really helpful. It's been hard for him to struggle so much with math, I just want to help him get better. He's a really smart kid, so I know he'll figure out if he just keeps trying. http://educationsfinest.com/tutoring-courses/

    • profile image

      Yo 

      8 years ago

      hi guys

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      Ram - What types of tricks are you looking for? What type of math are you working on?

    • profile image

      ram 

      8 years ago

      Hello

      Any web site for 12th maths tricks?

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you very much egiftscreations.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      James - I hope this helps you with your son. Good luck!

    • James Ginn profile image

      James Ginn 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      My oldest son will be 4 soon and we are starting to work on word problems. I am going to use your article as reference material. Thank you.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      EcoAsh - Thank you. Yes you have to keep at it, that was something that I learned early on.

    • EcoAsh profile image

      EcoAsh 

      9 years ago from Hemet

      Great Tips! I was always so bad at word problems until it took math class in college. But it's something that you constantly have to work at.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      LM - I think most people feel the same way about math. I struggle with math homework with my kids too. Sometimes I have to stop and think about what I am doing too. Don't worry take it slow and remember to breathe. Of course if you ever need help I am always here. I love math as silly as it sounds.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 

      9 years ago

      I didn't know you were an online tutor! Math is most certainly not my favorite subject, and I find that I'm learning all over again *with* my kids when we do our math lessons. This is going to make me sound really stupid, but I never can remember how to figure out certain percentage problems!

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you very much, glad that it helps. Just remember to take them slowly.

    • tdarby profile image

      tdarby 

      9 years ago

      this is very helpful. Thanks for the Hub. My daughter is just starting with word problems and this was very timely.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Well Lee it depends on the problem you are working on. I would not know how to answer unless I saw the problem with the directions.

    • profile image

      Lee 

      9 years ago

      I don't understand why you it's 5n minus 7n what happends to the pluse sign?

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you einron. I am an online tutor, just do not have the patience to teach though. I think it is because I enjoy math it is a love of mine.

    • einron profile image

      einron 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Triplet Mon

      You would make a good teacher. You are methodical and precise and get to the root of the matter.

      Thank you.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you glad you enjoyed!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Great hub! Just what we were looking for.

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