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Strategies to Simplify Word Problems Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 3, 2011

Guess and Check

Guess and check, also known as trial and error or guess and test, is another important strategy. This is the method that many people choose when they cannot come up with any other approach to solve a problem. Although guess and check can be used on just about any question, the problems in this lesson lend themselves to this strategy.

The method of guess and check is exactly what it says: You guess an answer and then check to see if it works. It is important to note, however, if you get a correct answer on the first guess that you should show at least three trials each time this strategy is used. You should always show at least three guesses, two incorrect and, of course, the correct answer.

Read through the following sample to see an example of how to use the strategy of guess and check.

Example

Gail has 13 coins for a total of $1.00. If she only has dimes and nickels, how many of each coin does she have?

Read and understand the question. This question is looking for the number of dimes and nickels that Gail has. She has a total of 13 coins that add to exactly $1.00.

Make a plan. Use the strategy of guess and check to solve this problem. Begin with a guess as to the number of nickels and number of dimes, and be sure that the number of coins adds to 13. Then, check to see if the total amount of money adds to $1.00.

Carry out the plan. Start your guesses with 6 dimes and 7 nickels. Six dimes is equal to $0.60 and 7 nickels is equal to $0.35. This is a total of $0.60 + $0.35 = $0.95. This guess is too low.

For the next guess, try a greater amount of dimes. Try 8 dimes and 5 nickels. This is a total of $0.80 + $0.25 = $1.05. This guess is too high.

For the next guess, try 7 dimes and 6 nickels. Seven dimes is equal to $0.70 and 6 nickels is equal to $0.30. This is a total of $0.70 + $0.30 = $1.00. This is the correct answer.

Check your work. Be sure that the solution meets all of the facts in the question. Gail had only nickels and dimes for a total of 13 coins. Seven dimes ($0.70) and six nickels ($0.30) is a total of 13 coins, which add to $1.00. This answer is checking.

Tip:

It is important to show at least three trials when you are using the strategy of guess and check. Show one guess greater than the right answer, one guess less than the right answer, and the correct answer. Always show all work to prove the solution works, and remember, it may take more than three trials to find the correct answer.

Find practice problems and solutions for these concepts at Strategies to Simplify Word Problems Practice Questions.

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