*But, believe it or not, these problems usually aren't any harder to solve than non-word problems—they just look very, very different.*

For example, we don’t actually have numerical values to use in our problem.

Which makes sense since our equation was only intended to be used to tell our computer how to convert from total weight to total number of dog toys—we weren’t actually looking for a specific answer to a specific problem.

The bottom line is this: Don’t declare that you’re done simply because you got an answer.

The only reason you should declare that you’re done is because you understand the answer you got.

The good news is that doing so is usually easier because you already have a solution to build upon.

And those are all of the steps you should go through when solving real world math problems.

The difference between these two weights must be equal to the combined weight of all the dog toys, W_toys: But we don’t actually want to know the weight of the toys, we want to know the number of toys. Well, if we know the total weight of all the toys, W_toys, and we divide that by the weight of a single toy, W_toy (assuming they're all the same weight), we get the total number of toys, Ntoys: But how did we know the values of W_towels and W_toy?

We must have been clever enough to measure them and write them down before we put the towels on our scale. The third step in solving our word problem—or any word problem—is to solve for the variable you’re interested in.

Good luck in all your future problem solving endeavors!

Okay, that's all the math we have time for today. And remember to become a fan of the Math Dude on Facebook where you’ll find lots of great math posted throughout the week. Until next time, this is Jason Marshall with The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Make Math Easier.

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