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Problem Solving Strategies

If you get stuck on a problem, try the following.
  • Check you have read the problem very carefully - What information does it give? What do you have to do?
  • Check you understand the problem - the notation, language and scenario. Have any assumptions been made?
  • If you can, break it down into smaller steps. Can you consider a simpler case first?
  • Think what mathematics you can use to solve the problem - have you seen anything like this before?
  • Try discussing the problem with somebody else, by phone or on-line or face-to face.
  • Try finding out more about the subject - on the web, in other books, with a maths software package.
  • Have a look back over previous work, both notes and examples.
  • Have a break!
  • Check each step of your work - Is your argument clear and logical? Are your calculations accurate? Can you justify each step? Is your writing well-presented?
  • Contact your tutors for help.
  • Consider what you have learned from this problem - could you use it again in the future?