Could you give me some tips on how to solve word problems?I just really have trouble solving word problems since they confuse me a whole lot. Could you share somet tips or methods on how I can...

Could you give me some tips on how to solve word problems?

I just really have trouble solving word problems since they confuse me a whole lot.

Could you share somet tips or methods on how I can solve word problems without having to worry so much please?

Expert Answers
vixen999 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book "Better Grades & High Test Scores/MATH" by Incentive Publications, Inc. provides some very good information about how to approach and solve word problems.

Here are some tips:

1)  Make sure that you understand what the problem is stating so you can correctly define the problem.  In some cases, there might not be enough information to solve the problem.  In other cases, there might be extraneous information (too much information) that you might not need.  Make sure you can clearly define the problem.

2)  Translate the words into math symbols.  For example, if you see the words "more than" that indicates using addition, product indicates multiplication, etc.  There are often good lists of words and their English meanings in textbooks or on the Internet. 

3)  Create an equation or strategy for solving the problem.  Sometimes, you need to make charts or lists rather than create an equation for a problem.  You may need to draw a quick picture or make a graph or chart to solve the problem.  Do not try to skip this step--drawing a quick sketch of the problem usually helps most students.

4)  Estimate the answer.  Take a moment to estimate the answer.  This is so that when you get your answer, you can tell if it is reasonable or not.  This is an important step that not many students follow.  Students often give answers such as $500 when they are calculating the amount of tax on a $1.50 item.  If the student would have taken the time to estimate that the answer should be less than $2, he/she would know that an answer of $500 is way off base.

5)  Follow the formula and write out all of the steps.  Most students try to skip steps and this is usually when they make errors.

6)  Check your answer.  Go backwards through the steps and see if you get to your original starting point.  Or, plug the answers back into the equation and see if they make a correct statement.


embizze eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Understanding the problem is the key.

(1)Read through the problem and then reread to find out what you are trying to find. Then list any facts given.

(2)I would next draw a diagram or build a model where applicable. This is a key step -- if you can visualize the problem it is much easier to proceed.

(3)Assign variables -- usually you would assign a variable to the quantity that you are solving for.

(4)Write a mathematical statement/equation.

(5) Estimate the answer. As indicated in Post 2, this is a very important step.

(6) Solve the math problem.

(7) Check your answer. Is it close to your estimate? Did you answer the question. (Often students solve the math problem and get an answer for "x", but fail to answer the actual question.) Did you include the correct units?


If you are having trouble getting started ask yourself the following questions and act on them: Can you solve a simpler problem? Have you seen a similar problem? Would it help to try to solve a specific problem in order to see what the general solution is? Would it help to solve a more general problem?

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One very useful method is to write on the problem.  I like to circle numbers and underline directions.  This helps make word problems simpler.  You will also need to know how to "translate" math symbols into English.  For example, = means "is" in English.

vaaruni | Student

Tips are from Varuni

To solve the word problems, follow the following tips :

1)  Read the question very carefully. That is at the end of each sentence stop

 and think /understand/analyse the meaning or what is stated in that statement

or sentence. In case you are vnot able to understand what is staed the Read

again and again till you get to know what is stated in that sentence .  

2) If require draw diagram ( to solve problems on Geometry or mensuration) and

mark the given value in the diagram

3) Then note down what is/are given in the question and what we require to find.

4) Based on given and require to prove find the topic to which it is related

5) Then find the find all formula and solutions related to the topic and

then select the best formula or solution that suits .

6) Now solve the problem applying the suitable formula.

Note : i) If you are not getting the right answer then check your solution (each step) and arithmetic operations.

ii) If you are not able  think the formula or solution then try to recollect the similar or related problems which have been solved (eaither by you or in some examples) , take the help of the solution given and try to solve your problem