Solving Algebra word problems is useful in helping you to solve earthly problems. While the 5 steps of Algebra problem solving are listed below, this article will focus on the first step, Identify the problem.

Use the Following Steps to Solve Word Problems:

- Identify the problem.
- Identify what you know.
- Make a plan.
- Carryout the plan.
- Verify that the answer makes sense.

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Identify the Problem

Back away from the calculator; use your brain first. Your mind analyzes, plans, and guides in the labyrinthine quest for the solution. Think of the calculator as merely a tool that makes the journey easier. After all, you wouldn’t want a surgeon to crack your ribs and perform a heart transplant without first identifying the source of your chest pains.

The steps of identifying the problem are:

- Express the problem question or statement.
- Identify the unit of the final answer.

### Step 1: Express the Problem Question or Statement

In Algebra word problems, the problem is expressed as either a question or a statement.

Question:

*How many trees will John have to plant?**How many televisions will Sara have to sell to earn $50,000?*

Statement:

*Find the number of trees John will have to plant.**Solve for the number of televisions Sara will have to sell to earn $50,000.*

### Step 2: Identify the Unit of the Final Answer

What will the answer look like?** **Now that you understand the word problem’s purpose, determine the answer’s unit. For example, will the answer be in miles, feet, ounces, pesos, dollars, the number of trees, or a number of televisions?

### Example 1: Algebra Word Problem

Javier is making brownies to serve at the family picnic. If the recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of cocoa to serve 4 people, how many cups will he need if 60 people attend the picnic?

**Identify the problem:***How**many cups will Javier need if 60 people attend the picnic?***Identify the unit of the final answer:***Cups*

### Example 2: Algebra Word Problem

In the market for computer batteries, the intersection of the supply and demand functions determines the price,p dollars, and the quantity,q, of goods sold.

Supply function: 80q-p= 0

Demand function: 4q+p= 300

Determine the price and quantity of computer batteries sold when these functions intersect.

**Identify the problem:***How**much will the batteries cost and how much will be sold when supply and demand functions meet?***Identify the unit of the final answer:***The quantity, or*q*, will be given in batteries. The price, or*p*, will be given in dollars.*

*Here are some free algebra worksheets for practice.*