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Word Problems

# Word Problems

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04/02/2015

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WORD PROBLEMS
This is a guide on how to solve word problems!
Definition of a Word Problem:
Before you start to solve word problems, it is important to understand what a word problem is. Aword problem is a mathematical exercise which is in the form of a hypothetical question thatneeds mathematical analysis and equations to be solved.A goo
d way to solve word problems is by using the method called “GRASS.” GRASS is an
acronym for
G
iven,
R
equired,
A
nalysis,
S
olution, and
S
tatement. You can use GRASS, step bystep, to break down a word problem, making it easier to solve.
GRASS:G
iven: Identify the given information in the question. What values are given and what do theyrepresent? It may be helpful to know the following terms that are sometimes used in mathquestions and what they mean:
Term Meaning
Sum + (addition)Difference - (subtraction)Product * (multiplication)Quotient / (division)
R
equired: Look at what the question is actually asking you to find. Whatever it is, represent itwith a variable e.g.,
x
.
A
nalysis: If applicable, draw a sketch if one is not already provided. Decide on the appropriatemath techniques to use and the formulas that relate the different quantities of interest. Wheneverpossible, use one variable only. For example, if you're looking for two numbers that differ by 5,then let
x
, and
x
+5 (or
x
and
x
-5) represent the two numbers, NOT
x
and
y
. Alternatively, youmay be able to use some information presented in the question to help you rewrite your equationin terms of one variable only.
S
olution: Solve the equation or find the answer you're looking for. Y
ou’ll have to think hardabout the various math techniques you’ve learned in your courses to figure out which ones work
for this particular question. Make sure your solution(s) makes sense in the context of the

application -- e.g., a negative area doesn't make any sense.
S
tatement: Finish off with a concluding statement to make clear the answer to the question. If applicable, include units in your answer. Here is a simple example to show how GRASS is used to solve a word problem.____________________________________________________________________________
Example:The perimeter of a rectangular park is 26 m. If the length of the park is 5 m,what is the width of the park?
G
iven:
In this question, we are given the perimeter of the rectangular park as 26 m. We are alsotold that the length of the park is 5 m. So,
mP
26

m
5

R
equired:
“What is the width of the park?” From this we know we have to
find the width.Find:
?
w

A
nalysis:
We can draw a sketch of the rectangular park to find out what formulas we might haveto use to find the width.Note: The longer sides are the lengths and the shorter sides are the widths.So from this sketch, we can see that we need the formula for the perimeter of a rectangle.
wP
22
If we rearrange the equation for
w
,
then we get

22
Pw

m
5
m
5
?
w
?
w