Sheila M. answered • 01/27/13

Friendly College Math Professor - understands students' math anxiety

Hi, Heather.

Story problems can be challenging sometimes, but you can learn how to interpret them. Start by making sure you know what's happening in the story. Then go phrase by phrase to translate into Algebraic expressions, etc.

In this story, realize it is talking about people working at a job. Even though they list all kinds of workers, they are breaking them down into two categories: those who build the ships and those who do other tasks (like accounting and finance).

"One hundred eighty-five more people work in building the ship" than those who don't...

Hmmm... there are 185 more employees who build than those who don't.

ship builders: 185 + x

other employees: x

"Given a total of 229 employees" means that altogether there were 229.

So, ship builders plus other employees total up to be 229.

To write this as an equation:

builders + others = 229

185 + x + x = 229

Does this help? Hopefully you know how to solve this equation.