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Solving Complex Problems – Where do I start… (I)

There is no doubt that if you want to achieve a high grade in Maths, then you must be able to solve complex problems.

Unfortunalty, very often, I hear this from students/pupils….

Where do I start ?

It is true that when faced with these types of problems, the task can be daunting given that there is no obvious ‘starting point‘.

In fact, solving these types of problems lays in the fact that they usually require the use of a number of different mathematical concepts. Concepts which you must be familar with.

And applying those, will ultimatly lead you to the answer.

Let’s look at an example… Suppose we are given this problem.


 Now…. the STARTING POINT……


Start with what information you are given and make relevant observations.

This step is crucial. You need to look at the problem statement and tell yourself: ‘What maths do I know that I can use to add to the information I already have‘. You should arrive at a number of observations, which when followed, will help you move towards the solution to the problem.

Observation #1
Observation #2
Observation #3
Observation #4

The next step in the process is to use (some or all of) these observations, and step be step, you will arrive at the solution to the problem. This is explained in this short video.