How to Answer the Constructed Response Math Question or Word Problems

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Read the Question Thoroughly

A constructed response math question will be a word problem in some form or other, and word problems can be trickier to understand than straightforward numerical equations. You will need to look at all of the data presented to you in the problem, and then determine which information is relevenat to you in solving the question posed.

Write Out the Mathematical Equation

Reduce the word problem to a mathmatical equation. For example, if you are being asked a simple question such as “Jan has six cats. Two cats run away, but one cat then has three kittens. How many cats does Jan have now?", you would write out the equation as “(6-2) + 3 = X”.

Solve the Mathematical Equation

Do the math, being sure to show your work. In the above example, you would do so by first subtracting 2 from 6, showing a value of 4, then adding 3 to the 4 to reach your final answer of 7.

Restate the Solution as a Word Problem

Restate the question and your answer using words as well as mathematical symbols. The way you would restate the above problem could be something like this: “Jan had six cats, but when two ran away that left four cats. Then one of those cats had three kittens, so this made seven cats in all.”

Add Additional Details as Necessary

Be prepared to add additional details to show how you arrived at your answer, i.e. “When Jan’s two cats ran away, this meant that she had two cats less, so I knew to subtract two from the number of cats she started with, which was six.”

In some types of constructed response problems, you may be asked to do a little thinking (and writing) that goes beyond the mathematical fats presented. For example, you may be asked a question like “Do you think Jan would have to pay more for cat food after her cats ran away, or not?” A question like this is not going to have a right or wrong answer as would the purely mathematical part of your answer - it is just meant to test your ability to think, and to express your thoughts in writing. In this case, the answer would be yes, because seven cats will eat more food than six cats.

Good luck on your next exam! Let us know how these tips helped!