Hard Math Word Problems: Challenges for Advanced Students

If your child often complains about being bored in math class, it could be because he or she is not being challenged by the material. Keep your child engaged by providing difficult word problems at home. Keep reading to find out how.

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What Are Common Characteristics of Hard Math Word Problems?

Word problems appear on many math tests, homework assignments and standardized tests. Word problems are challenging for many students, but your young math whiz can benefit from them because they keep students engaged with the material. In some cases, above average students become disinterested in class because they already know the lessons.

The difference between easy and hard math word problems is often the number of steps required. A hard word problem has two or more steps and requires students to use several different operations. Advanced math word problems may also have extraneous information that your child has to decide to disregard.

Challenging Word Problems by Level

Second Grade

Anthony woke up at 7:00 a.m. An hour and a half later, he bought coffee. Two hours and 15 minutes later, he took a break. One hour and 45 minutes later, he ate lunch. What time did Anthony eat lunch?

This problem is challenging because it requires students to add many intervals of time. However, keep in mind that second graders learn to tell time to the nearest five minutes. One and a half hours after 7:00 am is 8:30. Two hours and fifteen minutes after that is 10:45. Finally, one hour and 45 minutes later is 12:30 p.m.

Third Grade

Bill buys four bottles of soda on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays every week. How many bottles of soda will Bill have bought after four weeks?

Third graders learn about multiplication. To solve this problem, begin by calculating how many bottles of soda Bill buys in one week by multiplying (4 x 3 = 12). Then, multiply 12 by 4 to find out how many bottles of soda he will have bought after four weeks (12 x 4 = 48). The answer is 48 bottles of soda.

Fourth Grade

One day at 9:00 a.m., Ben found $80. He equally distributed it among himself and three of his friends. Later, Ben bought a toy for $10 and lost $3. How much money does he have left?

Your fourth grader will learn to divide 2-digit numbers. To find the answer, start by dividing $80 by 4 because Ben equally divided the money between himself and three friends (80 ÷ 4 = 20). Each person received $20. Then, subtract $10 from $20 because Ben bought a toy (20 - 10 = 10). Finally, subtract again because he lost $3 (10 - 3 = 7). Ben has $7 remaining. Note that the initial information (that Ben found the money at 9:00) is not important and can be ignored.
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