How to Solve Math Problems

By Vaughnlea Leonard; Updated April 24, 2017
Math word problems can be complex

Math problems can be very different depending on what type of math you are doing. People generally have the most difficulty with higher level math or low-level word problems. If you consistently have trouble doing either, try approaching how you solve math problems in a new way.

Solve Math Problems

Read the problem. Separate the information you need from the information you do not. If you are not sure what it is you need to take out, break down the math problem sentence by sentence and try again. This includes any A, B, C, D answers for multiple choice, as well.

Make a list of formulas or have them ready. This will be important because to solve math problems properly, you will need to be very systematic. The type of formulas you need depends on the math you are trying to perform.

Apply your formulas to your relevant information which you should have already separated. This is typically referred to as "input, output" methodology. You take any numbers from your relevant data and manipulate them with your formulas.

Be sure to reiterate. Know that if you generate numbers by performing "input, output," it will not mean those numbers are correct. Keep working the formulas in your list until you have one number, or a set of numbers.

Check your answers. You can "back solve," by using your quantities in reverse. You can also check your answers by "plugging in" an answer you generated by sticking it into the beginning of a problem. Let's say you have x + y = z.. X=5, y=2 and you have determined the value of z will equal 10, which it does not, of course. The way you can systematically determine that you answer is incorrect is to input number 10 into the beginning of the problem. Be sure to remove one of the variables, if it is an algebra problem that is, when you do this. Your problem should look like this: x+2=10. If five plus two does not equal tem, you will have to start your problem over again to determine what you did wrong.

Tip

Reiterate does not mean check your answers. Reiterate means to simply keep on using your formulas to reduce, for example.

Warning

Beware of miscellaneous information. Make sure your numbers apply to what it is you need to solve.

About the Author

Vaughnlea Leonard started her professional writing and editing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in "Press Journal," "Atlantic Publishing Company" and "Hometown News and Florida Today." A former military police enlistee and Florida certified educator, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.