**Problem solving** is a process of finding the solutions to difficult issues. Whether or not a student major in math, either at the college or university level, being able to solve math problems is very beneficial. The ability to solve math problems not only boosts one's abstract thinking, it is also a marketable skill in the workplace as many employers require that their employees have taken several math courses in college.

**THE ART OF EFFECTIVE PROBLEM SOLVING**

Though solving math problems seems awfully tedious in nature or even overly difficult to the novice, the practice is essentially solving a problem. And whenever a problem emerges, there is at least one solution to that problem. There is a multitude of ways to solve a math problem. It involves visualizing, approaching and solving math problems in a detailed set of instructions the student should refer to in the event a math problem seems insurmountable.

## These Are the Best Steps to Follow:

**STEP 1.** Determine the kind of math the problem is calling for. Does this particular math problem call for multiplying fractions? Solving algebraic equations? Solving quadratic equations? Knowing where to start and what school of math is being incorporated is key in helping the student solve their problem.

**STEP 2.** Review what has already been covered in the math course for which this particular assignment, or math problem, has been given. If it’s a specific formula, or set of formulas, that the problem calls for, more than likely the student can find the formula in the chapters or sections their professor has already covered over the course of the term or semester. Most academic institutions offer numerous resources for students struggling with math problems.

**STEP 3.** Begin to solve the problem, apply knowledge and skills already learned in the course. Identify what the problem is calling for and read the directions, if they are present, very carefully. At times, the system of “guess and check” may help; in other cases, use objects and other such tools to model the problem – sometimes a visual illustration of the problem may serve the student best. Look for patterns, use logical reasoning, and work backward, if possible.

**STEP 4.** Write down and show each step. Sometimes, by writing down their work, the student who may be a visual learner may best solve their problem – or this may overcome a set of obstacles standing in their way of solving the problem. This tactic allows the student to track and even double-check their approach to the problem as well as their mental process of getting the needed results. The student who is struggling with a math assignment must never attempt to solve the entire problem in their head.

**STEP 5.** Verify that the answer is correct and makes sense to the student if they are in the future tested on solving such math problems. Often in most textbooks, in math courses, especially, the answer is in the back of the book – that is if an assignment is taken directly from the textbook.

**STEP 6.** The student must always remember that their professor’s job is to help them understand the math that the course calls for. So, the student should approach their professor in the event a math problem presents difficulties. Most academic institutions employ the student body’s most skilled math students as tutors for students whose strengths are not math-oriented. This kind of service is often incorporated in the student’s tuition, so they should certainly take advantage of it.

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