Q. Are there some basic guidelines for solving any type of math problem?

10 Basic Principles for Solving Problems Mathematics handout


With all of the great variety of problems you may encounter in mathematics, there are just a few basic principles you can follow to solve all of them. 

Four Basic Principles

1. Understand the problem

2. Make a plan

3. Carry out the plan

4. Look back on your work.  Does it make sense?  How could it be better?

1.  Understand the problem

Here are some basic steps to help you understand the problem you are asked to solve.

· What are you asked to find or show?

· Is there enough information to solve the problem?

· Do you understand all the words in the problem?

· Can you restate the problem in your own words?

· Can you draw a picture to represent the problem?

· Do you have any questions?

2.  Make a plan

There are many strategies involved in solving problems.  The more practice you get, the easier it will become for you to choose a strategy that will be successful.  Some common strategies include...

· Guess and check   · Make a list    · Eliminate possibilities    · Use symmetry or analogies   · Work backward

· Consider special cases    · Use direct reasoning    · Solve an equation    · Look for a pattern    · Use a formula

· Draw a picture    · Solve a simpler problem    · Use a model    · Be creative—think outside the box

3.  Carry out the plan

Once you chose your plan, the next step is to follow it through.  Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work—this is how math is done, even by the professionals!  If a plan doesn’t work, start over by devising a new plan.

4.  Look back on your work

When doing a problem in math, you can always check your work.  Check to see if your answer makes sense with the way the problem was originally stated.  Look back on your work to see what strategies worked and what strategies did not work.  This will help you with future problems.

                                                                Math doesn’t have to be frustrating!

  • Last Updated Aug 07, 2018
  • Views 100
  • Answered By Anna Phan

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