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The 4-Step Method for Problem Solving, courtesy of Kaplan©, with adaptations. It is really about being a math detective…what is the problem about? What information is needed? What is not? What are some ways to approach the solution? Let’s give it a shot! STEP 1: Understand the question. Rushing on to answers is not effective if you don’t understand the question first. Scan the problem—what is it basically about? Restate the question in your own words. STEP 2: Find and analyze helpful information. It is important to first gather the necessary information before attempting to solve the problem. This information can be numbers, charts, graphs, etc. Underline the clues and important information. Cross out words and information you do not need. Re-write or represent important information in a way helpful to you—drawing, chart, etc. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Let’s try Steps 1 and 2 only…do not solve, just complete steps 1 and 2! A. Each student in a class is either a sophomore, junior, or senior. There are 15 students in the class. If there are twice as many sophomores as juniors, and there are 3 seniors, how many juniors are in the class? 1) What is the problem about? Re-write the question in your own words. 2) Go back to the problem and underline clues and important information. Cross out words and information you do not need. Re-write or represent information in a way helpful to you: B. Four friends were about to pay $20.00 each to enter an amusement park when they discovered that groups of 5 can pay a special group enterance fee for $85.00. How much would each of the friends save if they could convince a fifth person to join them and the 5 people divided equally the price of the special group entrance fee? 1) What is the problem about? Re-write the question in your own words. 2) Go back to the problem and underline clues and important information. Cross out words and information you do not need. Re-write or represent information in a way helpful to you: Nice Work! Now let’s add in Steps 3 and 4. STEP 3: Plan your approach and Solve. Based on understanding the problem and picking out the helpful information, decide which approach is best to answer this particular problem. Here are some guiding questions: What do you know? What do you need? What can you do? Plan your approach. STEP 4: Answer the question. Combine all the ideas and information from the first three steps. If you understand the question, know what math is required, have gathered all the useful information and planned your approach, this last step will be easy to complete. All that is left for you to do is the math. *Note: if you are totally stuck in the 4-step method, try one of the “Back-Door” strategies, coming soon to a math class near you C. In the standard (x,y) coordinate plane, what is the area of a triangle with vertices at (1,2), (-6,2) and (1, -4)? 1) What is the problem about? Re-write the question in your own words. 2) Go back to the problem and underline clues and important information. Cross out words and information you do not need. Re-write or represent information in a way helpful to you: 3) What do you know? 4) What do you need? What can you do? Plan your approach. 4) Put it all together and SOLVE! Make sure your answer makes sense and answers the question asked.