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# Word Problems and Data Analysis: GED Test Prep

By LearningExpress Editors
LearningExpress, LLC

Many students struggle with word problems. In this article, you will learn how to solve word problems with confidence by translating the words into a mathematical equation. Because the GED Mathematics Exam focuses on real-life situations, it's especially important for you to know how to make the transition from sentences to a math problem.

### Translating Words into Numbers

The most important skill needed for word problems is the ability to translate words into mathematical operations. This list provides some common examples of English phrases and their mathematical equivalents.

• A number increased by five = x + 5.

• Less than means subtract.
• 10 less than a number = x – 10.

• Times or product means multiply.
• Three times a number = 3x.

• Times the sum means to multiply a number by a quantity.
• Five times the sum of a number and three = 5(x + 3).

• Two variables are sometimes used together.
• A number y exceeds five times a number x by ten.

y = 5x + 10

• Inequality signs are used for at least and at most, as well as less than and more than.
• The product of x and 6 is greater than 2.

x × 6 > 2

When 14 is added to a number x, the sum is less than 21.

x + 14 < 21

The sum of a number x and 4 is at least 9.

x + 4 ≥ 9

When seven is subtracted from a number x, the difference is at most 4.

x – 7 ≤ 4

### Assigning Variables in Word Problems

It may be necessary to create and assign variables in a word problem. To do this, first identify an unknown and a known. You may not actually know the exact value of the "known," but you will know at least something about its value.

Examples

Max is three years older than Ricky.

Unknown = Ricky's age = x. Known = Max's age is three years older.

Therefore, Ricky's age = x and Max's age = x + 3.

Cordelia has five more than three times the number of books that Becky has.

Unknown = the number of books Becky has = x.

Known = the number of books Cordelia has = 3x + 5.

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