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How to Approach Wordy Math Questions on the New SAT

Julian wants to participate in a live culture tour under Equador Anthropology Travel Program. He wants to buy some T-shirts and pairs of shorts for the tour. After consulting his mother, he checks with the local clothing store and finds that three T-shirts and two pairs of shorts will cost him $19.50. His mother suggests that he buy five T-shirts and seven pairs of shorts that will cost him $54.00 in the same store. The sales woman informs them that in the store all the shirts cost the same price and all the shorts cost the same price. Based on this information, how much will it cost him if Julian decides to buy eight T-shirts and nine pairs of shorts?

Yes, this could be a question on the math section of the new SAT! Just 120 words long!

The redesigned SAT has quite a few of these math word problems that require you to read through a lengthy paragraph and then answer the question asked. Reading in math? Yes. It can be a little intimidating for many of us.

Here, are a few Manya- The Princeton Review strategies to tackle such wordy problems effectively!

1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT SUPERFLUOUS WORDS THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND1-150x150 (1)

Do you really need to know what a “live culture tour under Equador Anthropology Travel Program” is all about? Focus on what you need.

 

2. TAKE BABY STEPS

Take one small step at a time. A word problem can seem overwhelming if you read all of it in one go. Take baby steps instead: start from what makes most sense to you and process one piece of information at a time.

 

3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU NEED3-150x150

Underlining the key words makes all the difference when you approach these word problems. You don’t have to keep track of too much information in your head.

 

4. TRANSLATE

As you figure out a portion that you need, translate it from English to Math.

 

5. USE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION   index-150x150

As you process the given information, keep trying to eliminate one or more answer choices. Sometimes you could end up eliminating all three wrong answers even before solving the problem completely!

 

6.index-150x150 (1) READ THE FULL QUESTION

Finally, make sure you read the full question. Know exactly what the question is asking. Else, you could end up doing something that you don’t need to!

 

Let’s apply the above five rules to the question we started with!

Julian wants to participate in a live culture tour under Equador Anthropology Travel Program. He wants to buy some T-shirts and pairs of shorts for the tour. After consulting his mother he checks with the local clothing store and finds that three T-shirts and two pairs of shorts will cost him $19.50. His mother suggests that he buy five T-shirts and seven pairs of shorts that will cost him $54.50 in the same store. The sales woman informs them that in the store all the shirts cost the same price and all the shorts cost the same price. Based on this information, how much will it cost him if Julian decides to buy eight T-shirts and nine pairs of shorts?

A. $8.50

B. $35.00

C.$59.50

D.$74.00

You can form two equations with the key words from the underlined portions.

3T + 2S = 19.50

5T + 7S = 54.50

The moment you see 2 equations you may start solving for the variables. But hark! Read the full question

The question doesn’t ask for the cost of each T-shirt or that of each pair of shorts. It asks you to find the total cost of 8 T-shirts and 9 pairs of shorts.

You just need to add the two equations!

8T + 9S = 74.00

 

images1-150x150Voila! We are done!

 

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