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How to Solve Math Word Problems

Prashant Magar Oct 23, 2018
Learning to solve math word problems is a fun activity. The only hindrance is the way you approach the task. Writeup gives you some tips.
Basic math word problems are nothing but a combination of certain language tricks and easy calculations. In fact, if your favorite subject is English, playing maths games or solving elementary math word problems can be a cakewalk for you.
There are certain students who can work with numbers confidently, but simply introducing some language play, deviates their thinking process. Here are some simple ways to get going and face these problems.

Steps in Solving the Problems

It is important not to get bogged down by the size or the amount of information given in the worksheet. Be it 3rd grade problems or highly complex college level problems, half your woes are over if you approach them with a clear frame of mind.
Teachers and parents should encourage clear thinking by supporting methods like interactive puzzle solving, asking riddles, playing oral word games, or casually slipping in dodging questions on math tables in conversations. These efforts increase inquisitive and analytical thinking right from an early age, which are very crucial for solving such problems.
Different people take different amounts of time to comprehend a problem, hence regular practice is must for mastering the technique. When the problem is at hand, you may follow these steps.

Getting a Brief Idea

The first step is to quickly read the problem and get a brief idea about it. In many problems there are certain important parts, some redundant information, and a particular knowledge set required. Assess the problem based on these factors. Kids can be taught to do the same by parents or teachers.
The next part is determining exactly what is required to be done or what is asked in the question. For example, make sure if the question demands addition or division of the parameters, age, height, or measure of a quantity.

Analyzing the Information

Next step is to read the entire question again and analyze all the relevant information that can assist you in solving the problem. Identify the parts to be deduced or conversions to be made to prepare a set of 'given' information to reach the final answer.
Check what units are used and whether answer is to be obtained in the same or different form. It is always a good practice to jot down all the minute details required in your own form. This gives a better understanding of the problem and also avoids any errors in processing the information.
Break down the problem and focus on it in parts by asking yourself what is needed to get to the final answer. Quite often, a problem is divided into sub-parts and you must proceed logically one part after another. Avoid jumping to conclusions and carefully chalk out the relevant information to get going with the process.

Solving the Problem

Once you have understood and garnered all the information, try to solve the problem carefully, especially by avoiding errors in calculations and unit conversions. Once you follow these steps exactly in the sequence mentioned, you will definitely find the answer.
Verify whether the answer obtained can be a logical solution to the question, in order to avoid any misrepresentation. Many times, the calculation and the processing is accurate, but you put in the wrong unit or simply forget to add a zero and so on.

Practicing it

The ultimate step is to practice. It may be possible for some students not to get the answer in the first, second, or even the third attempt. But constantly facing the task and challenging your intellect is the key to learn to solve math problems.