Work with a pencil and a serious eraser. It’s ok to make mistakes. Relax if you haven’t built a perfect problem solving model as quickly as your classmates. Consider the U.S. Constitution, a document designed to answer the question: How will Americans be governed?

This controversial document was still a work in progress in its 18th century infancy. The Bill of Rights was an editorial change (ok, a political change to protect We the People from King George-ish tyranny). Problem solving is easier after a few rough drafts.

Here are the 5 steps to solving any Algebra word problem:

- Identify the problem.
- Identify what you know.
- Make a plan.
- Carryout the plan.
- Verify that the answer makes sense.

This article will focus on Step 3, Make a plan.

### Methods of Building Your Plan

- Write down your plan
- Talk out your plan
- Make a table
- Draw a line, circle, or bar graph
- Draw any other type of graph
- Draw a picture (You’re never too old to do this.)
- Work backward

### Example 1: Algebra Word Problem

The Pennrose Theater expects 275 patrons per new movie every weekend. How many new movies should they show this weekend if they expect 2,200 patrons?

### Make a Plan

For every new movie, 275 patrons come to the Pennrose Theater.

1 movie = 275 patrons

2 movies= 275 *2 = 550 patrons

3 movies= 275*3= 825 patrons

275*number of movies = 2,200 patrons or 275**m* = 2,200, where *m* represents the number of movies.

Solve for *m* to answer the question.

### Example 2: Algebra Word Problem

The area of a rectangle is

p^{6}q^{3}square inches. If the length isp^{4}q^{2 }inches, then what is the width in inches?

### Make a Plan

The exercise wants me to find the width, but I only have area and length.*Think: What formula has area, length, and width?* Area of a rectangle includes all three!

Area_{rectangle}= length * width*p*^{6}*q*^{3 = }*p*^{4}*q*^{2 }* width

Solve for width to answer the question.