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20 is what percent of 1480

how to learn how to do this math problem 

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2 Answers

Hi Kat,

Many people look at word problems and immediately think they are hard, but understanding a word problem is as simple as reading and translating English words into MATH SYMBOLS!

I don't disagree with what Nataliya wrote, however in my classes I have found that many students have a hard time reading a question like that and turning it into a proportion. So I will provide you with an alternative way to solve the problem and you can decide which is better for yourself.

The question is : 20 is what percent of 1480.

In MATH the word "IS" should be replaced with "=", the word "OF"should be replaced with "*",the multiplication symbol, the statement "WHAT PERCENT" should be replaced by A VARIABLE DIVIDED BY 100, (X/100), because in order to convert a number to a percent we must divide by 100...just as Nataliya mentioned above.

Using the above MATH TRANSLATIONS, we can write the following equation:

20 is what percent of 1480.

20 =    (X/100)       *  1480

Now in the line above I intentionally added lots of space to exaggerate the replacements to create the equation. I also used colors, italics and underlining to make things obvious as well.

Notice that the final equation is: 20 = (X/100) * 1480 and now all you need to do is solve for X.  My hope is that you have learned how to solve single variable equations at the very least. If not, you can look at my answer to a related question here:

NOTE: Be sure to put the % sign on the answer when you go get once you solve the problem, the answer to the problem is not correct unless it includes the units as well!

If you have trouble solving the equation rewrite it as the following:

20 = (X * 1480)


The equation directly above this line works because 1480 can be written as the fraction 1480/1 and remember when multiplying fractions, we multiply the numerator times the numerator and the denominator times the denominator.

Good Luck!

     part     _   part %      
    whole   ‾    100 %      

    20     _    x     
  1480    ¯  100     
after cross multiplication: 1480 · x = 20 · 100 ---> x = 2000/1480 ---> x = 1.35 %