Solving word problems can be trickier and more intimidating than solving a math equation. Most students are comfortable working with given numbers, but the simple addition of reading is enough to send a shiver down the spines of most students. However, solving even the most challenging word problems is not difficult provided that you comprehend the mathematical concept behind the question.
Strategies Used to Solve word problems
The following steps can help equip students with the tools necessary to help them become confident in solving the mystery of word problems.
1) Understanding the problem
”A recent Adobe Education Exchange article said that the first step to successfully solve word problems is to read the question carefully”. This helps you understand and figure out the scenario of the problem. Be careful not to jump to any conclusion about solving it until you have a full understanding of the problem. The word problem will provide you with all the necessary information that you need to find a solution. Once you have the bigger picture, it’s time to identify the problem and come up with the measurements for finding the answer.
2) Gather information
Sometimes curriculum writers add extra information that is not necessary for finding the answer to a math problem. The additional details are meant to train the students to ignore the unnecessary information and stay focused on finding the real problem. You will have to filter through the question to identify the details needed to solve that particular problem. Every situation requires different formats but using a visual representation makes it easier. You can use a list, table, or chart to note down the information given and leave blanks for the information not provided.
3) Create the equation
In this step, you will need to identify the keywords. You can use a pencil to underline or circle the phrases that tell you what you need to find. These terms include words like sum, addition, more than, increased, which all mean to add. Once you know what you need to solve, you can determine the formula, equation, and steps you need to use to come up with the correct answer. The step also helps reinforce thinking to identify the information you don’t need.
4) Solve the problem
Using the information provided and the formula, you can now key in the values to develop an equation that will help you solve the problem to get the unknown variable. Always be keen as you do your calculation to avoid mistakes and ensure that you are using the correct order of operations.
5) Verify your answer
Once done with the computation, review your answer to ensure that it’s accurate. Using the information given and you can test it to see if it’s within the expected margin of the result. If it is outrageous or unreasonable, review your steps and calculation for errors. Going through the problem carefully will help you figure out where you made a mistake.
6) Practice word problems often
The practice is the key to mastering word problem-solving. When you practice word problems, they will often become easier to solve as you notice similarities and patterns in solving them. These help you gain confidence even when you are dealing with challenging word problems.
While the level of difficulty varies, the above steps are the basic planned approach that can help you answer word problems.