Word problems on the GMAT often do not require particularly difficult algebra to solve. Most of the time, solving simple linear equations or using a formula is all that is required. The key is to not be intimidated by the length of the description and to be able to ** pull out the relevant information **and set up the correct equation/s. These 4 tips will help you tackle any Problem Solving question that is significantly wordy.

**Write down what the question is asking.**The final sentence of a word problem will tell you what the answer choices represent. Do you need to find a certain variable’s value? The probability of an event? An expression representing a relationship?**Translate the Math to English.**Go through each sentences one-by-one. Write down any important variables and numbers on your scratch pad, and give them labels (i.e. x = # of tickets bought by adults, 1100 = total employees in a factory). Use these common translations to help:- ADDITION: increased by ; more than ; combined ; together ; total of ; sum ; added to ; and ; plus
- SUBTRACTION: decreased by ; minus ; less ; difference between/of ; less than ; fewer than ; minus ; subtracted from
- MULTIPLICATION: of ; times ; multiplied by ; product of ; increased/decreased by a factor of
- DIVISION: per ; out of ; ratio of ; quotient of ; percent (divide by 100) ; divided by ; each
- EQUALS: is ; are ; was ; were ; will be ; gives ; yields ; sold for ; has ; costs ; adds up to ; the same as ; as much as
- VARIABLE or VALUE: a number ; how much ; how many ; what

**Clock the answer choices.**One of them*must*be correct. Are they numbers or variables? If they are numbers – a common way to solve word problems is to work backwards, or backsolve. This is a great way to approach an especially complicated question where setting up the algebra would take a lot of time. If there are variables, can you pick numbers? For percent questions, or questions with unknown starting values, always pick 100.-
**Identify the concept.**If you can look past the immediate question for a moment, and identify the overall concept tested, you will be better able to remember the relevant formulas and the steps needed to solve. Common concepts associated with word problems include: rates & speed, averages, ratios and proportions, solving sets of equations, probability, permutations and combinations, and percents.

As you study for the GMAT, try to label each word problem with a “concept” – you will notice how the concepts will repeat!

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*Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to the Veritas Prep blog, providing tips and tricks to help students better prepare for the GMAT and the SAT. *