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Algebra and Trigonometry

How did I master a subject that was truly overwhelming? I'll give you an example. One of those that I remember fondly was a time when those beloved word problems presented dreaded scenarios that paralyzed some of us (when I attended a demanding prep school where homework was not an option - stressful!).  
For example .... "Angie would travel a total distance of 432 miles driving from Ames, Iowa to Omaha, Nebraska for a grand reunion. This happens to be 17 miles more than 5 times the average distance she would usually travel from Ames to her nearby hometown in Iowa when visiting family on weekends...   Calculate that average distance Angie would travel on weekends."  The key here is write down the known facts of this problem.  that is key!!! Put those down on paper so you can visualize what is given!!  This allows you to pinpoint what is the target?  Okay, so we have 1) a great distance 432 miles  2) 17 + 5 times more than the usual 3) find that average distance...   5x + 17 = 432 ... I know this takes a bit more critical thinking but as you organize your  thoughts on paper, then it's easier to find X  .... 5x = 415....  X = 83    Final answer 83 miles Angie travels to from Ames to visit her family on weekends.  
I would be more willing to explain live in person but this is a snippet of what I can best illustrate how to reduce a head ache of such brain teasers. 


Last but not least, feel free to draw those givens if you are artistic! I'll explain that a bit whoever sees me... something brief and concise to enhance our assimilating the problem in question... I liked drawing some of these word problems as I liked to use my visual drawing talents to process that scenario ... whatever it takes... find out what your learning style is ... are you a visual learner? spatial? conversational?