Steps for Solving Application Problems/Optimization Problems 1. Read the problem carefully. What is the problem asking you to find? In other words, what are the unknowns? Assign a variable to each unknown. 2. If there is more than one variable, use known information to write an equation linking the variables. If there is only one variable, this step can be omitted. 3. Come up with a model that represents the situation in the problem. This model should be written using a combination of words and mathematical symbols and can be based on information in the problem and/or personal experience. 4. Use your model to come up with an equation in one variable. 5. Solve your equation. Then be sure to answer the question posed by the problem.