How to Analyze A Statement Problem
Word problems are difficult for many students who can work the problems if they are set up for them. I always have to give homage to my 10th grade Plane Geometry teacher, Dr. Jareziewski, who taught all of us at Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, Texas, this method. It has served me well, through math, economics and finance courses in college and grad school, and I use it even when looking at difficult problems in business.
Write down “To Find: “. Read the statement problem and figure out what it is that you need to figure out to get the answer. Write that down. It will usually be a value, such as Quick Asset ratio and Inventory. I am often amazed students who get only the first part of an answer, simply because they hadn’t identified what they were supposed to find. In management, this is sometimes stated as “What Do We Want to Achieve?” or “What is our goal?”
Next, write down “Given:” go through the problem, figuring out what facts are given to you. Sometimes the givens are subtle and implied by the statement. This step ferrets every possible thing out. Write down all the things that you are given.
Next, write “What Do I know?” What you are looking for here is the relationship between what is Given and what you need to find. For example, if you know the definition of the Quick Asset ratio, and what are the denominator and the numerator, write that down. If you are given the items in the numerator and denominator, the rest is just arithmetic.
Once you have found the link between what you are being asked to find, what you are given, and what you know, solving the problem is simple.
Try it! It always works.