by Paul

The
Pearson Adult Learning Centre offers math courses starting from
upgrading
levels, all the way up to senior math including Essentials Math 12,
Principles
Math 12, and Calculus 12. Math
word
problems are part of every math course.
Word problems both test the student’s understanding of the
math
concepts, as well as test the student’s ability to apply the math
concepts. As a
student works through
solving a math word problem, one of the critical steps is to determine
which
mathematical operation to use. For
example, do the given values need to be added, subtracted, multiplied,
divided,
squared, cubed, or inverted? Or
perhaps,
some other more complex operation or combination of operations needs to
be
applied?

Students
are sometimes unsure of which math operation to use because they may
not fully
understand the word problem in terms of what it describes. Or, at times, a student
may understand the
word problem details, but may be uncertain of what the problem is
asking to
solve for. It’s
most helpful to
understand completely all parts of the word problem.
Full comprehension will certainly help to
solve the problem correctly. Re-reading
the problem will often help to understand it well.
However, if after re-reading once or twice
the student is still unsure with which math operation to begin, then
the
student can just focus on any key-terms which may be found in the text
of the
problem.

The
key-terms will suggest which operations to use.
Relying entirely on just the key-terms as a guide is not
foolproof,
because the terms alone may not always identify the correct operation. However, this strategy, as
a second resort to
comprehending the word problem, should be fine in many, if not most, of
the
word problems.

The following
are some of the common English key-terms or expressions that suggest
one of the
indicated four basic math operations – addition, subtraction,
multiplication,
or division. Many
math word problems can
be solved with the application of just these four basic operations. Keep in mind that the
actual terms or
expressions appearing in a word problem might be different than in the
list
below.

__Suggesting
Addition (+)__** :**
sum, plus, add, added to, increased by, more
than, total, combine, raise by, expand.

__Suggesting
Subtraction (-)__** :**
subtract, minus, difference, subtracted from,
decreased by, reduced by, take away, less, how many more, how many less.

__Suggesting
Multiplication (x)__** :**
multiply, times, product, multiplied by, of.

__Suggesting
Division (÷)__** :**
divide, quotient, divided by, split into
equal parts, remainder.

In
addition to the four basic math operations, it’s also helpful to
recognize the
words or expressions which suggest setting values as equal -

__Suggesting
Equality (=)__** :**
is, equals, equal to, equivalent to, makes,
yields, results, gives, same as.

Therefore,
before solving a math word problem, it’s best to first try to
understand fully
all the given details and understand what it is that you’re solving for. Comprehending the problem
will certainly help
with the correct solution. If
you find
the problem difficult to follow, then you could resort to relying
entirely on
just the key-terms as a guide although this is less reliable in
reaching the
correct answer. Keep
in mind that
whatever your course level is in math or in any of our many other
courses, you
can always get help and guidance from any of our instructors. See you at our Learning
Centre!

Reference:
Some of the mentioned key-terms are found in
Math Essentials (1988) by Bill Kokoskin, ISBN 0-7730-4745-x.

Test
your reading comprehension of this reading!

Try
some math word problems:

4. Syvum
- choose a
link from Arithmetic Activities 5.1 to 5.9, then click on “Quiz.”

Check
the IXL
math
dictionary for math vocabulary.

(November 16, 2010)

(Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)

**Resources for Adults
Completing
High School**