Summary: Problem Solving Strategies for Word Problems

Key Concepts

Problem-Solving Strategy

  1. Read the word problem. Make sure you understand all the words and ideas. You may need to read the problem two or more times. If there are words you don’t understand, look them up in a dictionary or on the internet.
  2. Identify what you are looking for.  Determine the constants and variables in the problem.  A constant is a number in the problem that is not going to change.  A variable is a number that you don’t yet know its value.
  3. Name what you are looking for. Choose a letter to represent that quantity.
  4. Translate words into algebraic expressions and equations.  Write an equation to represent the problem. It may be helpful to first restate the problem in one sentence before translating.
  5. Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
  6. Check the answer in the problem. Make sure it makes sense.
  7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.

Consecutive numbers numbers that come one after the other.  Some examples of consecutive integers are:

[latex]\begin{array}{cccc}n\hfill & & & \text{1st integer}\hfill \\ n+1\hfill & & & \text{2nd consecutive integer}\hfill \\ n+2\hfill & & & \text{3rd consecutive integer}\hfill \end{array}[/latex]