Tried and True Word Problem Solving Methods

So after last week’s blog, you should you have a good idea about how to effectively solve word problems. You know what the question is asking you to solve, you know what operation you need to use, and you have identified the important information. But sometimes this might not be enough. If there is still some confusion about the word problem, take a look at these tried and true strategies that can help you crack any word problem.

  1. Find a pattern. Is there a steady increase or decrease in the numbers of your word problem? See if you can find a trend for a set of numbers, then keep extending the pattern until you’ve reached your answer.
  2. Work backwards. Sometimes word problems give you information at the end of the problem and want you to find out the starting numbers. In cases like these, identify the information that you need in order to start working back from that number and solve the problem.
  3. Guess and check. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to solve the word problem, plug a reasonable number into the equation and see if it works. If it doesn’t, see if you need to adjust your guess higher or lower and try again. While this method can be quite time consuming, it might direct you towards the right answer.
  4. Draw a picture. If the word problem seems confusing and you’re not quite sure what it is asking, it always helps to draw a picture of the problem. Once you see the problem in a more visual way, it might be easier to figure it out. 

If you’re looking for more ways to solve word problems, check out this website: http://library.thinkquest.org/4471/learn.htm.

Happy problem solving!

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