Math Word Problems: Examples and Solution Strategies

Do you shudder every time you see a word problem on a test? If so, you may need extra practice - and a little coaching - to better understand how to tackle this type of problem. Read on to find practice word problems for fifth, sixth and seventh grade, as well as solutions, explanations and problem-solving strategies.

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Why Do I Have to Solve Word Problems?

If you dislike math word problems, you're not alone. Many students find these problems challenging because they require application of math concepts to real-world situations. Word problems often force you to think about math operations in new ways and to use creative thinking, which may not be your strong suits.

Even though word problems can be hard, they are important for a number of reasons. First, these problems will appear on almost every standardized math test you take, including college entrance exams. Also, as you get older, you'll likely have to solve word problems as a part of your everyday life. For example, any time you have to figure out which sale item offers the best value, you'll be solving a word problem.

If you don't fully understand word problems, don't hesitate to ask your teacher for help. You can also practice at home on your own or with assistance from your parents.

Problems and Solutions by Grade

Fifth

Matt and Jan order two pizzas. When they're finished eating, 1/4 of the first pizza remains, as well as 3/6 of the second pizza. How much pizza do they have left?

This problem features fractions with unlike denominators that need to be added together. You should begin by making the two fractions equivalent. The denominator for both fractions should be 24 because 6 x 4 = 24. Multiply 1/4 x 6/6, which equals 6/24, and 3/6 x 4/4, which equals 12/24.
Then, add the equivalent fractions: 6/24 + 12/24 = 18/24. Don't forget to simplify your answer; in this case, you should divide both the numerator and denominator by 6. Matt and Jan have 3/4 of a full pizza left.

Sixth

On a map, the scale is 250 feet = 1 inch. How many inches would be needed to represent 1,700 feet?

With proportion problems, always begin by identifying the initial ratio. In this case it is 250:1, which can also be written like this: 250/1. Then, set up the proportional relationship with the unknown ratio. For this problem, the proportion should be 250/1 = 1,700/x. Solve for x by cross-multiplying, so that 1,700(1) = 250(x), and then dividing. On the map, 1,700 feet would be represented by 6.8 inches.

Seventh

After not selling well for five months, an item is marked down by 15%. It initially sold for $22. How much does it cost now?

Remember to disregard unnecessary information in word problems. In this problem, the fact that the item hasn't sold well for five months is irrelevant. Focus only on the numbers that you'll use to solve the problem.
Begin by calculating 15% of 22 by multiplying 22 x 0.15, which equals 3.3. This is the amount of money that was taken off the cost of this item. Next, subtract $3.30 from the initial price: 22 - 3.3. The item now costs $18.70.
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