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More complicated word problem help?

  1. Nov 2, 2012 #1
    I've gotten ok at reading and understanding simple word problems, but when there are equations involved, what clues do I look for if I'm not told beforehand what I'm dealing with?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2012 #2

    symbolipoint

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    Are these problems with equations involved only in symbolic form? Follow the instructions for the set of exercises so you know what you are expected to do, or what to solve.

    EDIT: Involving equations instead of managing a word problem is simpler, and less effort because you already have your equation in symbolic form and then just need to solve it; a word problem requires you to both translate into symbolic form AND then to solve.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  4. Nov 2, 2012 #3
    Well, what I would like to know is, lets say that I'm sure that the word problem is asking for forumla X, however, I don't know formula X, is there a way I can work out how to correctly put the numbers? I hope that makes sense.
     
  5. Nov 2, 2012 #4

    symbolipoint

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    Often enough YES. In some cases, you need to know a set of formulas and use reading comprehension to help choose the related formulas for the problem. In other cases, you may need to know a few formulas by training and instinct, and must DERIVE an equation from which you must DERIVE the needed formula.

    Do you have a couple of examples?
     
  6. Nov 2, 2012 #5
    Like, lets say you have a problem, where it asks about you starting off with an amount of money, and it grows such and such percent over the year, how much would you have afterwords, with nothing in the way of the typical arithmetic clues to guide you. I know how to do the percent of something, not grow by a percentage. The only other one I can think of at present has to do with a license plate problem, 3 letters, 2 numbers, and how many possible combinations are there? Again, nothing that I recognize from the basic arithmatic, I know I could just count the second, but that'd take forever, and I know that there is probably something simple I could do to figure out maybe, but what that is I have no clue.
     
  7. Nov 2, 2012 #6

    symbolipoint

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    Tyrion101,

    Regarding post #5:

    Those are general descriptions. Do you have a couple of examples?

    Are you studying Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, or Algebra 2? Which, if any?
     
  8. Nov 2, 2012 #7

    symbolipoint

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    Actually, your first description can be treated as something to translate into a form using variables. Assign a variable to everything. What formulas or relationships are found in the problem description? Write these using numbers or variables. What number are you looking to solve for? Develop the answer purely in symbolic form (formula which will be expressed as numbers, some of them being variables.)
     
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