Sherman
It is not uncommon for students to dread doing math word problems. What you may not realize is that solving word problems is a lot like playing video games. Here is how they are alike. In a video game the first thing one does is find out where they are supposed to go and what they are supposed to do. In they video game they often give you clues, like messages, or assistants, other times you have to look around and check out the little signs. Sometimes itÕs an obvious path, like go here. In a fighting game, for example, the first thing to figure out is which combination of buttons works best.

The next step in the video game is to try something and see what happens. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnÕt. If it doesnÕt work, then you do something different, and you keep trying until it does work. If you have played a video game you have done this, although you may not have thought about it as a problem solving process.

The same kind of plan works for solving math word problems. First, you have to figure out what they want you to do. You know, like where you are supposed to go, what you are supposed to do?

Next, you have to look for clues, just like you would in a video game. Is there a path that looks like youÕre supposed to follow, are there hints that seem to point in a direction. It is a good idea circle the clues or underline the words so you will remember to use them later.

The next step is where it is easy to get off track and where sometimes you can waste a lot of time. This step is the solving part, but if you rush in to it without a plan, you can do the wrong operation or not do the operations in the right order, like dividing when you should be multiplying.

The last step in solving word problems is different from a video game, because you donÕt really have to check your work in a game. In a game if it doesnÕt work, you just try something different. In a math problem, they donÕt tell you if you did it right (at least not right away). You do not get points, or get shot at, or lose the race. In a math word problem try to take a look at it when you are done to see if it makes sense. Check your work. Try to solve it in a little different way and see if the answer comes out the same. If it doesnÕt, then something is definitely wrong.

For math word problems here are the four steps to use:

1. First, figure out what theyÕre asking for?
2. Second, look at the clues, the information they give you.
3. Third, put together a plan and then solve it.
4. And fourth, check your work to see if it makes sense.
Dear Sherman,
I am deciding whether or not to finish high school through Independent studies I need 50 more credits to graduate but I'd rather work and go to college and get out of high school. So I was wondering how is a G.E.D different than a high school diploma and how is it better? How do Colleges and Universities compare students with a G.E.D to a student with a high school diploma? If you get your G.E.D and you decide later you want to get your high school diploma can you go back to independent studies and complete your credits or do you have to earn all the credits again; starting completely over!
So please e-mail me back with some answers it would help to make my decision faster and I really want to get out!