Word Problems

It's a picture of a crossword puzzle.

Word problems are the bane of many an aspiring mathematician.  So, you are here either because you missed the question in the aMAZEing Algebra maze, or because a search engine sent you here.  If you missed the problem, keep reading.

Math is all about persistence.  Here's the good news.  Unlike most other subjects, once you understand a mathematical concept.  It won't change.  It will still be true in the next book you read about math.

No big whoop!


Math is frustrating, word problems are doubly so.  Don't sweat it!  This is not for a grade, this is to learn Algebra.  If you got all of these questions correct, then you wasted your time and I'm not able to teach you anything.

Let's look at the problem.  Bob has to pay "...$1.20 times..."  the key word here is times.  The word times means multiply.  3 times 2 is 6.  "...$1.20 times the sum ..."  now the key word is sum.  It's not used as often as times, but it means add.  The sum of 3 and 2 is 5, 3 + 2.  So, the sum of what - length and width and height, or length + width + height.  So we have $1.20 times that and our equation becomes $1.20(length + width + height).  Whenever you put a number next to a variable, a bracket, or a parenthesis it means you're multiplying.  So, 3y is the same as 3 x y, or 3 * y, or 3 times y.  When we put $1.20 right next to the ( in the equation, we are saying that we are multiplying $1.20 times everything within the parenthesis.  

One last thing, they also add on a flat fee of $3.00 to any order.  So, our equation now reads ...

c) $3.00 + ($1.20)(length + width + height) = cost.

Why are there so many word problems?

Those dreaded standardized tests are riddled with them.  The main reason is that they make you think.  In addition, real life algebra problems will present themselves as word problems.  And yes, life is full of them - assuming you're clever enough to recognize them as algebra.

Question 1B

Bob got his first paycheck, and wanted to spend it on a movie.  He has a coupon for 50% off any concessions he might buy. 

Bob pays $15 to enter the theater and purchases a candy bar, a cola, and popcorn.  What formula would best express Bob's purchases?

a) 50%(candy bar + cola + popcorn + $15) = cost

b)  0.5(candy bar + cola + popcorn) + $15.00 = cost

c)  50% + candy bar + cola + popcorn + $15 = cost

d)  $20.00

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