Word Problems and Data Analysis: GED Test Prep
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.
- Increase means add.
- Less than means subtract.
- Times or product means multiply.
- Times the sum means to multiply a number by a quantity.
- Two variables are sometimes used together.
- Inequality signs are used for at least and at most, as well as less than and more than.
A number increased by five = x + 5.
10 less than a number = x – 10.
Three times a number = 3x.
Five times the sum of a number and three = 5(x + 3).
A number y exceeds five times a number x by ten.
y = 5x + 10
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.
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.
Lisa made twice as many cookies as Rebecca.
Unknown = number of cookies Rebecca made = x.
Known = number of cookies Lisa made = 2x.
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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