*But (perhaps being a little too clever for your own good) instead of constantly checking this spot, you decide that you'd like to rig up an ingenious system to automatically report to you exactly how many toys are missing.*The biggest mistake people make when solving problems is trying to solve them too soon.The fifth and final step of the problem solving process is to use the result you’ve obtained to solve other problems. Because we’re talking about solving real world problems here—not just textbook problems.

*But (perhaps being a little too clever for your own good) instead of constantly checking this spot, you decide that you'd like to rig up an ingenious system to automatically report to you exactly how many toys are missing.The biggest mistake people make when solving problems is trying to solve them too soon.The fifth and final step of the problem solving process is to use the result you’ve obtained to solve other problems. Because we’re talking about solving real world problems here—not just textbook problems.*

This step will often entail going through the procedure outlined in the How to Solve an Equation episode.

Our goal is to solve for the total number of dog toys on the scale, N_toys.

But, believe it or not, these problems usually aren't any harder to solve than non-word problems—they just look very, very different.

And they require a slightly different mindset to solve.

The difference between these two weights must be equal to the combined weight of all the dog toys, W_toys: But we don’t actually want to know the weight of the toys, we want to know the number of toys. Well, if we know the total weight of all the toys, W_toys, and we divide that by the weight of a single toy, W_toy (assuming they're all the same weight), we get the total number of toys, Ntoys: But how did we know the values of W_towels and W_toy?

We must have been clever enough to measure them and write them down before we put the towels on our scale. The third step in solving our word problem—or any word problem—is to solve for the variable you’re interested in.

If the phrase "word problem" sends a shiver down your spine, you're not alone.

A lot of people have trouble with so-called word problems in math.

Whenever the scale senses a weight increase, it can tell your computer that another toy has been hidden.

Your computer can then use some as-yet-unknown equation to figure out exactly how many toys are hidden.

## Comments How To Solve Word Problems In Mathematics

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