Science, Tech, Math › Math How to Do Algebra Word Problems Share Flipboard Email Print USA, California, Los Angeles, Teacher with teenage students (14-15,16-17) at school. Tetra Images - Rob Lewine/Getty Images Math Pre Algebra & Algebra Math Tutorials Geometry Arithmetic Statistics Exponential Decay Functions Worksheets By Grade Resources View More by Deb Russell Deb Russell is a school principal who has taught mathematics at all levels. She is also a freelance writer with more than 14 years of experience. Updated November 04, 2019 Algebra word problems are very useful to solve real-life problems. You CAN do them. Remember the famous words of Albert Einstein "Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you that mine are greater." Background When you take a real-world situation and translate it into math, you are actually 'expressing' it; hence the mathematical term 'expression'. Everything that is left of the equal sign is considered to be something you are expressing. Everything to the right of the equal sign (or inequality) is yet another expression. Simply stated, an expression is a combination of numbers, variables (letters) and operations. Expressions have a numerical value. Equations are sometimes confused with expressions. To keep these two terms separate, simply ask yourself if you can answer with a true/false. If so, you have an equation, not an expression which would have a numerical value. When simplifying equations, one often drops expressions such as 7-7 that equal 0. A few samples: Word Expression Algebraic Expression x plus 5 10 times x y - 12 x 5 5x y - 12 Getting Started Word problems consist of sentences. You will need to read the problem through carefully to ensure you have some understanding of what you are being asked to solve. Pay close attention to the problem to determine the key clues. Focus on the final question of the word problem. Read the problem again to make sure you understand what you're being asked for. Then, jot down the expression. Let's get started: 1. On my last birthday, I weighed 125 pounds. One year later I have put on x pounds. Which expression gives my weight one year later? a) x 125 b) 125 - x c) x 125 d) 125x 2. If you multiply the square of a number n by 6 and then added 3 to the product, the sum is equal to 57. One of the expressions equals 57, which one is it? a) (6n)2 3 b) (n 3)2 c) 6(n2 3)d) 6n2 3 Answer for 1 is a) x 125 Answer for 2 is d) 6n2 3 On your own: Sample 1:The price of a new radio is p dollars. The radio is on sale for 30% off. What expression will you write that will tell the savings that are being offered on the radio? Answer: 0.p3 Your friend Doug has given you the following algebraic expression: "Subtract 15 times a number n from twice the square of the number. What is the expression that your friend is saying? Answer: 2b2-15b Sample 3Jane and her three college friends are going to be sharing the cost of a 3 bedroom apartment. The cost of rent is n dollars. What expression can you write that will tell you what Jane's share is? Answer:n/5 Becoming quite familiar with the use of algebraic expressions is an important skill to learning Algebra! Check out my list of favorite apps for learning algebra. Continue Reading Express Your Mathematical Self: How to Write Algebraic Expressions 6 Great Resources to Help You Learn Algebra Look Up Math Definitions With This Handy Glossary Multiplication Word Problems With Printable Worksheets Learn to Simplify Algebra Equations With the Distributive Property Law Here's How Equivalent Systems of Equations Work Do You Know How to Solve Algebra Problems? Slope-Intercept Form Teaches How to Solve a Linear Function Algebra Age Problem Worksheets What Are Some Good Math World Problems for 8th-Graders? Understanding Trig Identities, and How to Use Them Appropriately SAT Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test Information SAT Mathematics Level 1: Content and Subject Test Information What Is the Factorial (!) in Mathematics and Statistics? These 6th Grade Word Problems Cover All the Major Math Categories What Is a Word Equation?