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Story Questions

Way back in elementary school, you were exposed to the story problem for the first time. It went something like this:

Mary has $1. She has been instructed to go to the store and buy pencils. If each pencil costs 10 cents, how many pencils can Mary buy?

This question was asking you a division problem in the form of a short story. You could have been asked, "How much is $1 divided by 10?" But it was time to complicate your life a bit, so the division problem was hidden in the story. You had to be able to identify the mathematical process in the story in order to answer the question.

Story problems are used abundantly in multiple choice exams. Frequently, individuals become confused and frustrated with story problems. Usually, they are long, take up a lot of space and contain considerable information, most of which is not pertinent to the point being tested.

The challenge becomes picking the important information out of the question and discarding the irrelevant. Normally, you will have to read this test item more than once to determine what is really being asked of you. It is also advisable to underline the important information needed to arrive at the answer.