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Word problems are the bane of every algebra student.  In helping students solve word problems, I have found the main problem is usually translating the words of the problem into algebraic expressions (and more generally into mathematical notation).  I call this step translating from English to "Algebraic".  Algebraic is a language that you must learn to be successful, however a surprising number of students seem to have missed learning this language.  Oh, they know how to manipulate the symbols once they're written down, but they don't grasp the language itself.  This manifests itself in difficulty solving word problems, as well as trouble understanding and remembering proofs.

In this section, I will offer some general advice on getting started translating from English to Algebraic.  Along the way, I'll introduce some word problems to illustrate the procedure.  Click "Introduction" to continue, or for specific advice on particular types of word problem, click one of the specialized topics below the Introduction.

Contents of this section:

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A little more explanation about the Procedures -- they include all sorts of oddball things, like how to estimate using "mental math", how to find square roots using a method similar to long division, and more.

Related pages in this website

Derivative Word Problems

Common mathematical procedures, which might help with all kinds of problems, including word problems.


The webmaster and author of this Math Help site is Graeme McRae.