Although word problems differ from one another, you can use a general strategy to solve them:
- Read the problem carefully, several times if necessary, to familiarize yourself with what is being asked.
- Select a variable or variables to represent the unknown(s) in the problem.
- If possible, draw a diagram to illustrate the facts in a problem or create a chart to organize the given information.
- Translate the problem into an algebraic sentence using the variable(s) chosen.
- Solve the algebraic sentence.
- Check your result.
- 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.
- Finally, answer the question.