The CA SOLVE Approach to Word Problems for CBEST Exam Study Guide
Of course, it helps to know the formula or method needed to solve a problem. But there are always those problems on the test that you don't recognize or can't remember how to do, and this may cause you a little anxiety. Even experienced math teachers experience that paralyzing feeling at times. But you shouldn't allow anxiety to conquer you. Nor should you jump into a problem and start figuring madly without a careful reading and analysis of the problem.
The CA SOLVE Approach
When approaching a word problem, you need the skills of a detective. Follow the CA SOLVE method to uncover the mystery behind a problem that is unfamiliar to you.
C Stands for Conquer
Conquer that queasy feeling—don't let it conquer you. To squelch it, try step A.
A Stands for Answer
Look at the answers and see if there are any similarities among them. Notice the form in which the answers are written. Are they all in cubic inches? Do they all contain pi? Are they all formulas?
S Stands for Subject Experience
Many problems are taken from real-life situations or are based on methods you already know. Ask: "Do I have any experience with this subject or with this type of problem? What might a problem about the subject be asking me? Can I remember anything that might relate to this problem?"
Eliminate experiences or methods of solving that don't seem to work. But be careful; sometimes sorting through your memory for experiences and methods takes a long time.
O Stands for Organize the Facts
Here are some ways to organize your data:
- Look for clue words in the problem that tell you to add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
- Try out each answer to see which one works. Look for answers to eliminate.
- Think of formulas or methods that have worked for you in solving problems like this in the past. Write them down. There should be plenty of room on your test booklet for this.
Don't try to keep a formula in your head as you solve the problem. Although writing does take time and effort, jotting down a formula is well worth it for three reasons: 1) A formula on paper will clear your head to work with the numbers; 2) You will have a visual image of the formula you can refer to and plug numbers into; 3) The formula will help you see exactly what operations you will need to perform to solve the problem.
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