# Problem solving framework

Mathematical problems often include different types of maths. They are usually non-routine which means they are unlikely to have appeared before.

The following six step framework provides an approach that can be used to tackle the majority of problem solving questions.

## 1. What do I have to do?

Read the question through twice. It can be easy to miss something the first time. Highlight or underline key words and information.

## 2. What information do I need?

Decide which bits of information are most useful. Start to think about which type of maths might be used to solve the problem.

Also, think about what form the answer will take. Is it asking for money, time or distance for example? Does the answer have to be a whole number? Will the answer have any units? If so, don’t forget to include them.

## 3. What information don’t I need?

Sometimes some information given in the question is not needed.

It is important to decide at the start if there is any information which does not need to be taken into account when working out the answer.

## 4. What maths can I do?

This is where it is necessary to start tackling the problem. The earlier steps are designed to break up the problem. In every problem-solving question there is usually a way into the problem:

• There may be a fraction, percentage, ratio or expression included in the question. This usually provides a good place to start.
• Sometimes the type of answer that is being looked for helps you begin. For example, if the question asks for an area, perimeter or angle, this might be enough to start a chain of maths.
• Mark information such as lengths and angles on any diagrams.

Use the highlighted information to get started on the question, even if an initial approach isn’t the right way to start, just do some maths with the information that you have to try and get ‘into’ the problem.

Some problems require different maths topics to solve them, for example setting up an equation to find the measurements of a shape. Look out for opportunities to use a range of maths skills to solve a problem.

## 5. Is my solution correct?

There are checks that should always be done: