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Math Word Problems for Police Officer Exam Study Guide

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Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Many of the math problems on tests are word problems. A word problem can include any kind of math, including simple arithmetic, fractions, decimals, percentages, and even algebra and geometry.

The hardest part of any word problem is translating English into math. When you read a problem, you can frequently translate it word for word from English statements into mathematical statements. At other times, however, a key word in the word problem hints at the mathematical operation to be performed. Here are the translation rules:

EQUALS         key words: is, are, has

English Math
The rookie is 20 years old. R = 20
There are 7 hats. H = 7
Officer Judi has commendations. J = 5

ADDITION           key words: sum; more, greater, or older than; total; all together

English Math
The sum of two numbers is 10. X + Y = 10
Karen has $5 more than Sam. K = 5 + S
The base is 3" greater than the height. B = 3 + H
Judi is 2 years older than Tony. J = 2 + T
The total of three numbers is 25. A + B + C = 25
How much do Joan and Tom have all together? J + T = ?

SUBTRACTION          key words: difference, less or younger than, fewer, remain, left over

English Math
The difference between two numbers is 17. X – Y = 17
Mike has 5 fewer cats than twice the number Jan has. M = 2 J – 5
Jay is 2 years younger than Brett. J = B – 2
After Carol ate 3 apples, R apples remained. R = A – 3

MULTIPLICATION         key words: of, product, times

English Math
20% of the stolen radios .20 × M
Half of the recruits × B
The product of two numbers is 12. A ×B = 12

DIVISION      key word: per

English Math
15 drops per teaspoon
22 miles per gallon

Distance Formula: Distance = Rate × Time

The key words are movement words like plane, train, boat, car, walk, run, climb, travel, and swim.

  • How far did the plane travel in 4 hours if it averaged 300 miles per hour?
  • D = 300 × 4

    D = 1,200 miles

  • Ben walked 20 miles in 4 hours. What was his average speed?
  • 20 = r × 4

    5 miles per hour = r

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