Let’s say students must find the sum of 393 and 89.

They should quickly see that adding 7 onto 393 will equal 400 — an easier number to work with.

Math problems often require established procedures and knowing what procedure to apply.

To create procedures, you have to be familiar with the problem situation and be able to collect the appropriate information, identify a strategy or strategies, and use the strategy appropriately. When deciding on methods or procedures to use to solve problems, the first thing you will do is look for clues, which is one of the most important skills in solving problems in mathematics.

Then determine all the information that is being given to you in the question.

Mathematician George Pólya’s book, “How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method,” written in 1957, is a great guide to have on hand.

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

And they require a slightly different mindset to solve.

If you begin to solve problems by looking for clue words, you will find that those words often indicate an operation.

This, of course, means looking for clue words as outlined in the previous section.

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