# How Many Years Do You Need To Take Math Total Strategies For ‘Attacking’ Maths Problems, A Guide For Students And Teachers

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## Strategies For ‘Attacking’ Maths Problems, A Guide For Students And Teachers

In a previous article, How to Answer Questions in a Formal Exam: A Student’s Guide, I discussed how to answer questions to get the best possible results in an exam. This article continues this topic but this time in relation to answering questions in a formal Mathematics exam. The strategies mentioned in the previous article should be applied to the Math exam as well as those discussed below.

It is important to define what I mean by a math problem before we begin to study the strategies for solving them.

These problems are almost entirely “word” problems. Most often, the student needs to use a variety of mathematical skills or ideas to arrive at a solution. Often, especially in the upper years of high school, there will be an unfamiliar context in which to use your mathematical knowledge. Alternatively, there may be a series of sometimes complex steps required to achieve a result. Finally, the answer is not obvious.

Below is a list of strategies that, when used together, will help you be more successful at solving real math problems, not just the ones you’ve practiced. However, remember that if you don’t know your math basics, no set of strategies will help you solve the problems.

So, strategy number 1 is and will always be:

“Know all your work and learning procedures as well as you can.”

The rest of the strategies are as follows:

2. Remember that everything you need to solve the problem is in the question itself. (So ​​list what data the problem gives you as a starting point.)

3. Checking is a mandatory part of every problem you have to solve. Here is a verification procedure to use:

• It is best to check as you go through each step of the problem, as this saves time and often avoids unnecessary extra work.

• Make sure you only did what you were asked to do. Check that you have indeed answered the question completely.

• Check that you have correctly copied all the data in the question.

• Check that your answer (its size, etc.) fits, in a practical sense, the scenario/context of the question.

4. Make sure you have been neat, tidy, organized, logical, clear and concise. This will help you with your check and allow the examiner/teacher to follow your logic easily.

5. This strategy was mentioned in the first article. It is part of the answer to any exam problem, especially Maths. It is: List the steps you need to take, in order to get a solution.

Below is an example of what I mean by this strategy in math.

The pool problem

“How long does it take to fill a swimming pool with a bucket?”

Here’s how I teach this strategy:

Step 1: I write the above problem on the board.

When I do this, I ask students for their reaction:

It will be: “We can’t do it”

You wonder, “Why?”

Your response: “You don’t need them. If it were given to you, what would you do?”

Step 2: Now I have the students write down the steps they would use.

Step 3: I then discuss the steps the class selects and list the steps on the board.

For example, Find the volume of the swimming pool.

Find the volume of the bucket.

How long does it take to fill the bucket and pour it into the pool?

How many buckets of water do I need to fill the pool?

Find the total time to fill the pool.

Step 4: Now, I notice that the previous steps do not mention the dimensions of the pool. No matter what you measure, you still follow the same process.

Step 5: Finally, I emphasize that a correct answer depends on the correct steps, that is, the solution method.

As a student, you cannot learn these strategies overnight and expect them to “come” to you easily in a formal exam situation. You have to practice using them. Make a list of the strategies and keep them with you as you try each new problem. Evaluate how well you use them and work to improve the ones you struggle to use the most or are easily forgotten. Consult your teacher for help with this process. Remember, in an exam, be disciplined, write down the list of strategies you will use before you start and use them to solve the problems.

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