# What are the steps to solving a word problem?

##### 1 Answer

If a mathematical problem is expressed in words, then first try to express all the relevant information in the problem in terms of symbols representing unknowns, in the form of equations, inequalities, etc.

Once you have a symbolic representation of the problem - typically in the form of a set of simultaneous equations to be solved, try eliminating variables one at a time by rearranging terms, using basic arithmetic operations and substitutions.Eventually this process will probably lead to values (or at least constraints) for all of the unknowns.

Convert these values or constraints back into the context and language of the problem to express the solution.

For example, suppose Andrew is half the age of Brian, Brian is three times older than Charles and the sum of their ages is 44 years. How old is Charles?

Use

Then expressing the information in the problem symbolically we have:

and we want to determine

From the first two equations, we have

Substituting

Multiplying both ends by

So Charles is 8 years old.