Word Problems Demystified: Underlining and Circling for Clarity

By Steven Darby - February 19, 2024

The ACT Math section can be a formidable challenge for many students, especially when it comes to tackling lengthy word problems. These complex questions often require students to sift through a sea of information to find the key details needed to arrive at the correct solution. In this blog post, we will explore an effective strategy for demystifying word problems: underlining given information and circling the main question. This technique can make all the difference in helping students extract vital details and solve these problems efficiently.

The Complexity of Lengthy Word Problems:

Word problems in the ACT Math section come in various shapes and sizes. Some are concise and straightforward, while others are multi-step, lengthy narratives filled with information. It's the latter category that often leaves students feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin.

The Strategy of Underlining and Circling:

  1. Identifying Given Information: The first step in solving any word problem is to identify the given information. In lengthy problems, this information can be scattered throughout the passage. Encourage your child to read the problem carefully and underline or highlight any data, numbers, or facts provided.

  2. Circling the Main Question: Next, instruct your child to identify the main question or what the problem is asking for. This is often located at the end of the problem statement. Once identified, have your child circle this question. This step is crucial because it helps your child maintain focus on the ultimate goal of the problem.

  3. Separating Clutter from Core: By underlining and circling, your child effectively separates the "clutter" from the core of the problem. This technique ensures that they are not distracted by irrelevant details and can zero in on the critical elements required for a solution.

  4. Enhancing Comprehension: The act of physically underlining and circling can also enhance comprehension. It forces your child to engage more deeply with the problem and aids in memory retention of key facts.

  5. Efficiency and Time Management: In a timed test like the ACT, efficiency is key. Underlining and circling allows your child to work more efficiently, saving precious time that can be better allocated to solving the problem.

A Practical Example:

Let's consider a practical example: a word problem involving a lengthy description of a scenario followed by a question that asks for a specific calculation. By underlining relevant data and circling the main question, your child can quickly refer back to these key elements, reducing the need to re-read the entire problem repeatedly.

Word problems in the ACT Math section need not be a source of anxiety for your child. By introducing them to the underlining and circling strategy, you can empower them to approach these problems with confidence and clarity. This technique streamlines the problem-solving process, helping your child extract vital details efficiently and arrive at accurate solutions. At Peak Learning Solutions DTC, we understand the importance of such strategies, and our dedicated tutors are ready to assist your child in mastering these valuable techniques, ensuring their success in the ACT Math section and beyond.

Unlock your child's full potential with Peak Learning Solutions DTC. From algebra to calculus, statistics to chemistry, biology to history, and AP courses, we offer comprehensive teaching and tutoring services. Our certified teachers focus on enhancing metacognition and executive functioning skills. Stay organized with our expert advice on planner use and binders. For SAT and ACT preparation, look no further. Reach out to us at 720-737-9221 or visit www.peaklearningsolutions.com. We're your trusted local resource, located in Greenwood Village, Colorado.
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