*The fifth and final step of the problem solving process is to use the result you’ve obtained to solve other problems. Because we’re talking about solving real world problems here—not just textbook problems.*In the real world, many problems you solve will make you think of something related that you need to solve, too.

In our problem, we should ask ourselves: Can we actually build something that will discern the numer of hidden dog toys?

Sure, all we need to do is put the cat's pile of towels on a smart scale that sends its weight to your computer.

But, believe it or not, these problems usually aren't any harder to solve than non-word problems—they just look very, very different.

And they require a slightly different mindset to solve.

Today, I'm going to tell you about my simple 5-step method that will help you solve all your math problems—including those pesky word problems. Your cat, on the other hand, does not love your dog and therefore finds it amusing to hide his toys.

In particular, we're going to talk about how to turn a word problem into an algebraic equation and then solve it.. Being quite clever, you suspect that the cat is the culprit, so you begin to monitor his favorite hiding spot: the pile of towels next to his bed.

The difference between these two weights must be equal to the combined weight of all the dog toys, W_toys: But we don’t actually want to know the weight of the toys, we want to know the number of toys. Well, if we know the total weight of all the toys, W_toys, and we divide that by the weight of a single toy, W_toy (assuming they're all the same weight), we get the total number of toys, Ntoys: But how did we know the values of W_towels and W_toy?

We must have been clever enough to measure them and write them down before we put the towels on our scale. The third step in solving our word problem—or any word problem—is to solve for the variable you’re interested in.

But (perhaps being a little too clever for your own good) instead of constantly checking this spot, you decide that you'd like to rig up an ingenious system to automatically report to you exactly how many toys are missing.

The biggest mistake people make when solving problems is trying to solve them too soon.

## Comments How To Problem Solve In Math

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