Determine the quantity the problem is asking you to find. Most word problems end with a question. For example, “How many books has Susan read in the past six months?” The number of books Susan has read is the quantity you are looking for.
Symbolize this quantity with a variable. A variable is a letter that stands for a number when you don’t know what the number is yet. For example, B = the number of books Susan has read in the last six months.
Write an equation to translate the word problem into a number problem. If the word problem is “Susan read 22 books by the end of 12 months. By the end of 18 months, she had read 37 books. How many books has Susan read in the past six months?” translate that into the equation “22 + B = 37.”
Solve the equation by finding the variable. For example, to find B, you’ll need to solve for the difference between 37 and 22. That’s 37 - 22 = 15. So B = 15.
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