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Word problems can seem scary. Word problems can also seem tricky. You never seem to know which information is important and which information you can ignore. Follow these simple steps below when trying to do word problems and you might find that you have more success in solving them!

Step 1:  Read the problem at least twice. The first time you read a word problem, you’re not really paying attention, are you? You need to read the problem at least twice so that you understand exactly what it says.

Step 2:  Identify what the problem is asking you to do. What do you need to find or solve for? Sometimes drawing a picture helps too.

Step 3:  Identify the information needed to solve the problem as well as the information you DON’T need.  It helps if you get rid of the unnecessary information by crossing it out – this way you won’t use it accidentally.

Step 4:  Find or create a formula to solve the word problem and SOLVE IT!

Step 5:  Check your answer. DOES IT MAKE SENSE? (This is the most important question to ask yourself.) Does your answer appear in the right units? Can you put your answer back into the problem to check it?



Skill #1:   You need to know your addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts by heart!  Yes, you’ll have a calculator at your fingertips, but it should be used as backup for your brain. The time you waste trying to do some basic computations is just that – time wasted.

Skill #2:   Memorize some basic formulas – you’ll find that you may need them in the future. Some formulas to commit to memory are:

Area of square or rectangle:   A = l • w, where l = length and w = width

Perimeter:   the sum of all the sides of a given figure

Skill #3:   Take notes! You need to know how to take notes in class, as well as supplement them with notes from the text. It is up to you to make sure that you have all of the information that you will need to complete the homework assignments correctly and perform well on tests and quizzes.  You are the only one responsible for the grades that you earn!

Skill #4:   Ask for help if you need it! Don’t let your pride get in the way of your education. If you don’t understand something, ask to have it explained again. See the instructor during office hours. Go to the Learning Center. Do everything you can to get the best grade that you can get!