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.