Word Problem Solving Methods

Problem-solving can be challenging for some students because it involves reading comprehension along with mathematical skills. Other students just read the problem too fast and do not take the time to analyze the information provided. For these reasons, we ask students to use methods such as RELAX or SOLVE.


Read the whole problem

Eyeball the numbers (circle them)

Look for clue words (underline them)

Attempt to solve the problem (show your work)

“X”amine your solution (check your work)



State the problem (and underline the question it’s asking you to solve)

Organize the information (circle the information you need to solve the problem)

Line up a plan to solve (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, draw, etc.)

Verify the problem (attempt to solve and show your work)

Examine your answer (check your work)


Additionally, we ask students to estimate their sums or differences by rounding the numbers. The goal is for students to have an idea of the total and be more skilled at spotting computation mistakes in their work.