the 3 elements you need to find to solve a word problem

To solve a whole number or a decimal word problem, 3 elements are essential: the number of groups (days, hours, rows, lines, etc.), the amount in each group, and the total amount in all groups. 

 

To solve for one element, you need to determine what the other two elements are. 

 

If the amount in each group is NOT the same, use addition or subtraction to solve for one of the 3 elements. 

 

Examples: 

 

  1. Tom has $2.00; Peter has $5.00. How much do they have altogether? 

 

In this example, there are two people (groups) and each person does not have the same amount of money. To find the total amount of money they have, we need to use addition. Therefore, the total amount of money they have is : 2+5=$7.00 

 

If the amount in each group is the SAME, use one of the following 3 elements formulas to solve for one of the 3 elements: 

 

  1. Tom has $2.00; Peter also has $2.00. How much do they have altogether? 

 

In this example, there are two people (groups) and each person has the same amount of money. 

 

To find the total amount of money they have, we can use addition but we can also use the following 3 elements formulas for whole number and decimal word problems: Total amount in all groups= the number of groups x the amount in each group

 

To find more on how to use 3 elements formulas to solve word problems with multiplication and division, please purchase word problems; detailed explanations of reasoning and solving strategies (volumes 3volume 4, volume 5volume 6, volume 7, volume 8, volume 9volume 10, volume 11 and volume 12)

 

Cutting a log

Peter asked John this question:” If it takes me 6 minutes to cut a log into 3 sections, how many minutes will it take for me to cut the log into 6 sections?”

John was very quick:” That’s easy. Since 3 sections take 6 minutes, 6 sections should take two groups of 6 minutes so it should be …..12 minutes.”

 Friends, do you think that John is right?

 

The answer is no. This is why: In 6 minutes, he does two cuttings and these two cuttings turn the logs into 3 sections so each cutting takes 3 minutes on the average. To cut the log into 6 sections, Peter will need to do 5 cuttings. Since each cutting takes 3 minutes, 5 cuttings will take 5 groups of 3 minutes: 5×3=15 minutes

It will take Peter 15 minutes to cut the log into 6 sections. 

cutting a stick

Can you solve this problem?

1/8 of a stick is cut off. If If another stick that is 15 inches long is glued to the remaining part of the first stick, the first stick will be 1/2 longer than its original length. What is the original length of the first stick?

In this problem, you need to find the match between the fractional part and the amount in it ( if you do not know about these terms, please go to Word Problem: Detailed Explanations of Reasoning and Solving Strategies Volumes 11-A, 11-B and 12)

15 inches  not only has covered  1/8 of the stick that is cut off but also makes the  the stick 1/2 longer so we can say that 15 inches match the sum of the fractional parts: 1/8 and 1/2.

We divide the sum of the fractional parts: 1/8+1/2=5/8 into the amount that matches it: 15 inches to find the amount in 1, which is the length of the original stick: ( please go to the books Word Problem: Detailed Explanations of Reasoning and Solving Strategies Volumes 11-A, 11-B and 12 for more detailed explanation):

15÷5/8=24 inches

The original stick is 24 inches. 

 

Keys and locks

There are 6 keys and 6 locks. At most how many tries are required before it is certain that each lock has found its key?

Which answer is correct?

One answer is as follows: 6 x 6=36 tries ( Is this correct?)

The other answer is as this:

  1. Use the 6 keys to try 1 lock at a time and at most 5 tries are required before the lock finds its key. Move the key and lock away from the groups. Now there are 5 locks and 5 keys left. 
  2. Use the 5 keys to try another lock and at most 4 tries are required before the lock finds its key. Move the second set of key and lock out of the groups. Now there are 4 locks and 4 keys left. 
  3. Use 4 keys to try another lock and at most 3 tries are required before the lock finds its key. Move the third set of key and lock out of the groups. Now there are only 3 locks and 3 keys left. 
  4. Use the 3 keys to try another lock and at most 2 tries are required before the lock finds its key. Now more the fourth set of key and lock out of the groups. Now there are only 2 locks and 2 keys left.
  5. Use the 2 keys to try one of the remaining locks and at most 1 try is required for the lock to find its key.  Move the 5th set of key and lock out of the groups. Now there are only 1 key and one lock left and they should be one set. 

How many tries are there from the above steps?

5+4+3+2+1=15 tries

Of course, the second answer is correct. When you see a verbal problem, do not rush to get  the answer. Always think it through.