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Solving Math Word Problems on the ACT

Part of the ACT Math For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A word problem (also called a story problem or a problem in a setting) gives you information in words rather than in just equations and numbers. To answer a math word problem on the ACT, you have to translate the provided information into one or more equations and then solve.

You can solve some word problems fairly easily. Jotting down the numbers in the problem can be useful to help get you focused and moving in the right direction. The following example word problem shows you how:

A charity is holding a lottery to raise money. A book of 20 tickets sells for $70.00, and a book of 50 tickets sells for $150.00. How much do you save on each ticket by buying a book of 50 tickets rather than a book of 20 tickets?

(A) $0.10
(B) $0.20
(C) $0.25
(D) $0.50
(E) $0.75

If you’re not immediately sure how to proceed, jot down the numbers in an orderly fashion:

Book of 50    $150    50
Book of 20    $70    20

This step only takes a moment and gets your brain moving. When you organize the information in this way, you may see that the next step involves division:

Book of 50    $150 ÷ 50 = $3.00
Book of 20    $70 ÷ 20 = $3.50

Now you can easily see that buying a book of 50 tickets saves $0.50 per ticket, so the correct answer is Choice (D).

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