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Math Help - I really struggle with text based questions

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    I really struggle with text based questions

    I mean lengthy questions that consist of multiple lines with many things to remember... I have to read the question quite a few times to actually understand what's going on and I just get confused.

    will I get better with practice or is this just something I have to deal with? I much prefer questions which are simply an equation and you have to solve for x
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  2. #2
    MHF Contributor MarkFL's Avatar
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    Re: I really struggle with text based questions

    You will get better with practice. You will learn to formulate what you are given, and relate it to what you are being asked.
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    Re: I really struggle with text based questions

    Quote Originally Posted by uperkurk View Post
    I mean lengthy questions that consist of multiple lines with many things to remember... I have to read the question quite a few times to actually understand what's going on and I just get confused.

    will I get better with practice or is this just something I have to deal with? I much prefer questions which are simply an equation and you have to solve for x
    I don't enjoy wordiness in problems either, so, when possible, I employ some of these tricks:

    1) Cross out what doesn't matter. As an example, I'll restate a word problem (percentage problem) to which I responded earlier this evening.
    A company did a study to determine the percent of books that were returned on time. Of the 2000 previously checked books, the number that was returned on time were 300 greater than the number that were not returned on time. What percent of the books in the study were returned on time?
    Let's get rid of what we don't need.


        \rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width37.75em}\text{A company did a study to determine the percent of books that were returned on time.} \text{ Of } \rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width1.25em}\text{the} \text{ 2000 } \rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width9.75em}\text{the previously checked books, the number }\rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width3.75em}\text{that was} \text{ returned on time }\rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width2em}\text{were} \text{ is }  \text{300 greater than the number } \rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width5em}\text{ that were} \text{ not returned on time. What percent of the books }\rlap{\vrule height3.5pt depth-2.5pt width6em}\text{ in the study } \text{ were returned on time?}
    One caution is to not cross out words so you cannot see them; you may need the crossed-out words to answer the question (very specifically) in context, which was required in most of my graduate-level statistics courses.

    2) Keep a running list of information explicitly given in the problem. Use that list, if you can, to determine (i.e., jot down) implicit information from the problem.

    3) Abbreviate names in problems that are absurdly long or complicated. Sometimes, I use shapes, or simply boy and girl, in lieu of names that are too long, confusing or make me laugh too much.

    -Andy
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