Weight Loss Made a Bit Easier: Realistic and Practical Advice for Healthy Eating and Exercise
Available on Amazon.com in paperback/Kindle formats for $6.25/$2.99. Please click here for details.
Home | My Math and Education Books | Math Lessons | Ask a Math Question
Site Info | Contact Info | Tutoring Info | LarryZafran.com
Lesson 16: Word Problems Involving Multiplication
In this lesson you'll learn how to identity word problems that require multiplication, and you'll learn how to solve them.
Don't forget to watch the embedded video clip for this lesson at the bottom of the page. Please be sure to read the embedded video information and disclaimer.
Here is a typical word problem involving multiplication: There are 6 children at a party, and you want each child to have 4 cookies. How many total cookies do you need?
This problem is tricky because it includes the word "total." You might be tempted to add, but you need to read the problem slowly and carefully to see what is really needed. This problem requires multiplication, because to solve it, you need to form repeated groups of 4 cookies. Remember that multiplication is just repeated addition. To solve the problem, we can convert it to 6 x 4, to get 24.
Always look carefully to see if there are any other keywords in the problem. If there are, it's possible that you will have to first do some other operation, such as addition. These problems sometimes have a multiple choice answer that tries to trick you if you weren't careful to find all of the keywords in the problem, and if you just assumed that you were multiplying. Always read the problem slowly and carefully.
When you multiply, the answer that you get is called the product. If a word problem ever asks you find the product of two numbers, they are just testing to see if you know that you are supposed to multiply. Certainly if a problem says that there are a number of items times another number of items, it means that you should multiply them.
Sometimes there is no obvious keyword that tells you to multiply. In these cases, just look for any clue that tells that you that problem is about repeatedly adding a number. That will tell you that you need to multiply.
Always read a word problem carefully and slowly, determine what operation you are being asked to do, and then convert the problem into standard notation.