General Strategy

Although word problems differ from one another, you can use a general strategy to solve them:

  1. Read the problem carefully, several times if necessary, to familiarize yourself with what is being asked.
  2. Select a variable or variables to represent the unknown(s) in the problem.
  3. If possible, draw a diagram to illustrate the facts in a problem or create a chart to organize the given information.
  4. Translate the problem into an algebraic sentence using the variable(s) chosen.
  5. Solve the algebraic sentence.
  6. Check your result.
  7. Reread the problem; see how the answer to the algebraic sentence can be used to answer the question asked. Check to see whether the answer is reasonable.
  8. Finally, answer the question.