build math problem solving skills

Math Problem Solving Made Easy

Math Problem Solving Made Easy - In 3 Simple Steps

How can you improve your problem solving skills in math?

In this article we present to you “math problem solving made easy” by  showing how 3 simple steps can make for the right answers every time!  

Improving problem solving skills in math means developing a general strategy that works every time and provides answers to many different kinds of problems. 

Students can master their problem solving skills by following three (3) important steps to problem solving in math. 

A guide on how to master your problem solving skills in math is available for download at the end of this article. 

The Importance of Language in Problem Solving

Math word problems are written in a spoken language. In this article we reference word problems written in English. 

math symbols in english

In understanding how to solve word problems, we need to understand how to translate words from English into Math, For example, the word “and” in English translates to the meaning of “addition” in Math. Equally as important is Math vocabulary. It exists to help us communicate the important steps to problem solving questions. 

Three Important Steps to Math Problem Solving

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In mastering problem solving skills, we look at the importance behind each step in the our 3-step solution strategy. We provide a sample question to show the significance of each step in solving questions in Math. 

There are important aspects to consider when it comes to problem solving questions in Math. EduKitchen recommends a 3 step approach we refer to as the given, find, solution (GFS) method, where in each step there is one main focus.  

Step 1 - What information is (given) to help solve the problem?

In this step we focus on what information is beneficial to solving the problem. Most word problems may also include information that sets the stage for the problem, but really has no value in helping to solve the question. 

use given information in math

Consider ways to help the given information stand out in the word problem. You could highlight or underline relevant information, or cross out any irrelevant information! 

Step 2 - What is the problem asking us to (find)?

In this step we focus on what the question is asking to find or to determine. This may seem obvious, but this step will help decide the path to the solution so it should not be overlooked!

student learning

Step 3 - What is the (solution) to the problem?

In this step we focus on what the best solution is to turn a complicated answer into simple calculations. ​

improve math knowledge

It is also important to remember that with practice makes perfect, so keep working on solving math problems using our GFS method and you will find in time that solving problems should become easier, in math, and in real life!

In order for us to show you how to use the GFS method, we provide a sample math problem in Algebra that was used as a question on a previous SAT test.

A Sample Math Problem:

math problem solving

Step 1:

Start with what you are given, as underlined in red above. We also should recall the rules for expanding polynomials as shown in the first part of the question. It is important to note if  a + b = 8 and ab = 15, then the only numbers to add to 8 and multiply to give 15 are 3, and 5. Therefore we have the values for a and b.

Step 2:

We have to find the two possible values of c. In following the rules for expanding polynomials, we must multiply and then add. Therefore cx = (7a + 2b)x or simply c = (7a + 2b).

solution math problem

Step 3

 When we place the values for a = 3 & b = 5 in the polynomial we get;

(i) (3x + 2)(5x + 7) = 15x² + 31x + 14

or

 When we place the values for a = 5 & b = 3 in the polynomial we get;

(i) (5x + 2)(3x + 7) = 15x² + 41x + 14

Therefore the answer is (D)

Math Problem Solving Made Easy Video

Watch our video to see how the 3-step solution (and believing in their abilities) can help students with mastering their math problem solving skills and improving learning goals. 

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Final Thoughts...

Every solution that works in math turns a complicated calculation into a simple calculation that comes down to one, or a combination of the basic operations in; addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division when working to find the answer.

social emotional learning and math

Keep practicing answering math questions in this way and you will find it gets easier to solve problems as you quickly learn to recognize the key elements. It may get frustrating at times if the solution does not seem to work the first time, but don’t fret just go back a step to make sure you have all you need to help solve the problem.

Share Your Thoughts

We hope you found our step by step analysis helpful and will be encouraged to use this method when problem solving questions in Math. Let us know in the comments below!

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