How to Solve Math Problems

Math is a subject which consists of problems which test one’s analytical skills, visualization abilities and logical thinking.

Students find math difficult due to their lack of focus in dealing with problems in algebra, geometry or calculus and thus get stuck in the middle. If they follow some strategies for solving math problems, they can approach the problem in the right direction and arrive at answers without struggle.

Understanding the problem

Students need to understand what type of problem they are handling — whether it is a fraction, word problem or linear equation. They have to read the problem more than once and come to a conclusion about the requirements of the problem.

Writing out the problem

In order to understand the contents of a problem (especially word problems), it is good to write out the problem in one’s own words. Students get an overall picture of what the problem demands from them. While writing out the problem, students need to check whether they have covered all the details given in the original problem. They can even draw Venn diagrams, graphs, charts or simple shapes to understand the problem better.

Looking for patterns

When they read the problem carefully, students can identify patterns which give clues about the problem. Once they understand the pattern, they can work on the problem in the same line and at times directly get at the answers.

Developing a plan

Once students understand the problem, they need to develop a plan to proceed through the problem. They need to review the concepts and formulas that suit the problem and refer to the text book for choosing the right one. In complex problems, there can be more than one formula.

Writing out how to proceed

Writing out the steps of the procedure and the methods will simplify the approach to the problem. Writing the plan for doing the problem will help students estimate the answers they will arrive at in the end.

Executing the plan

Once students are ready with the plan and the steps to do the problem, they can start executing it by doing the problem step by step. When they complete a step, they should make sure of the answer for the step by reviewing the details. They need to compare the answers of steps to the estimates they have made in the plan and see whether they tally. This would take them to the right answer in the end without getting stuck.

Trying different plans

One plan doesn’t work for every problem. Suppose, the plan does not work out, students need to try other plans and find out which works.

Recheck the answer

Once the answer is arrived at the end, it is time for students to go back on their steps and check whether they have done steps correctly and have not missed any details. This will assure their answers are right and they can be confident of their solutions.

Solving problems in math requires a step by step approach with a focus on formulas, writing plans and getting step by step answers. It is not easy for all students. Those who struggle in areas of math can try online tutoring centers and learn smart strategies for solving math problems.

Originally published at .

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