Working Backwards Problem Solving Examples

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I don't know about you, but solving processes like this always make more sense to me when I see them in action.

Let's explore our opening example to illustrate how to use working backwards to solve a problem.

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At the end of the problem, Dan had 4 pieces of candy left for himself, so this is where we'll start.

Right before Dan had 4 pieces left, he gave James 5 pieces.However, at the end of the problem, it clearly states that Dan had 4 pieces left over for himself.This is a good indication that working backwards is a good process to use.Since 8 - 3 = 5, this means Dan gave Susan 5 pieces of candy in all.Thus, to undo this step, we add 5 pieces of candy to Dan's running total, giving him 16 5 = 21.That may sound odd, but basically, if a problem looks as though it is a series of steps that can be undone, then working backwards is a good way to go.It is very clear, in our candy example, that this is the case.This tells us that Dan had 21 pieces of candy to start with. As we said, there are multiple ways to go about solving word problems, so it is useful to know when the process of working backwards is the best solving option.There are certain characteristics of word problems that indicate working backwards should be used to solve the problem.There are many different ways to solve word problems, so it is useful to know when working backwards is a good way to go.Some characteristics of word problems that indicate working backwards is a good solving process to use are as follows: Did you know…


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