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Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.
“If you think you can… or think you can’t… you’re right.”—Henry Ford
The world is full of word problems! Will my income qualify me to rent that apartment? How much punch do I need to make for the party? What size diamond can I afford to buy my girlfriend? Should I fly or drive to my family reunion?
How much money do I need to fill the car with gas? How much tip should I leave at a restaurant? How many socks should I pack for vacation? What size turkey do I need to buy for Thanksgiving dinner, and then what time do I need to put it in the oven? If my sister and I buy our mother a present, how much does each of us pay?
Now that we can solve equations, we are ready to apply our new skills to word problems. Do you know anyone who has had negative experiences in the past with word problems? Have you ever had thoughts like the student below?
When we feel we have no control, and continue repeating negative thoughts, we set up barriers to success. We need to calm our fears and change our negative feelings.
Start with a fresh slate and begin to think positive thoughts. If we take control and believe we can be successful, we will be able to master word problems! Read the positive thoughts in [link] and say them out loud.
Think of something, outside of school, that you can do now but couldn’t do 3 years ago. Is it driving a car? Snowboarding? Cooking a gourmet meal? Speaking a new language? Your past experiences with word problems happened when you were younger—now you’re older and ready to succeed!
We have reviewed translating English phrases into algebraic expressions, using some basic mathematical vocabulary and symbols. We have also translated English sentences into algebraic equations and solved some word problems. The word problems applied math to everyday situations. We restated the situation in one sentence, assigned a variable, and then wrote an equation to solve the problem. This method works as long as the situation is familiar and the math is not too complicated.
Now, we’ll expand our strategy so we can use it to successfully solve any word problem. We’ll list the strategy here, and then we’ll use it to solve some problems. We summarize below an effective strategy for problem solving.
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