Getting Unstuck

Trying to solve a problem, but unsure what to do next? Here are some things you can try to help you get going.

Understand the problem

You can't solve a problem unless you have a clear idea of what the problem means. Ask yourself:

Change the problem

One of the most powerful techniques for solving any problem in math is to transform that problem into one that you already know how to solve. Ask yourself:

  • Can I make up simpler versions of my problem, and use my solutions to those problems to find a pattern that I can use for larger cases?

  • Can I break my problem into two or more subproblems whose solutions could be combined to solve the larger problem?

  • Could I work backwards from an end result to find a missing value or condition?

Change the focus

Sometimes all you need to do to get back on track is break out of the rut that you're in by coming at the problem from a different direction. Try these alternatives: