• Andy has 4 apples, and then eats 2. How many does he have left?
  • Beth drives for 3 hours at 80 km/h. How far did she go?
  • Carl, Debbie and Earl earned $30 together shoveling driveways. How much does each of them get?

Is there a name for this sort of 'simplest possible' word problem?

Is there any well-defined classification or hierarchy of such problems?

For example, the third on my list requires the pre-processing step of recognizing group of three entrepreneurs before doing the division, which adds a degree of difficulty.

It seems to me that such a classification system might be pedagogically useful, but I don't know whether one exists or is widely accepted.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ The third problem also hides the implicit assumption that they all earn the same amount, which really should be stated explicitly. (At least, I'm guessing that's supposed to be assumed, since otherwise there isn't a unique solution.) $\endgroup$ Jan 7 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ See my comment here for related material. $\endgroup$ Jan 7 '15 at 20:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The name of these word problems is one-step problems. $\endgroup$
    – Amy B
    Jun 23 '15 at 2:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ old joke: "If there are 3 apples and you take 2, how many do you have?" $\endgroup$
    – Mike Jones
    Oct 8 '15 at 18:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ When I taught Physics it never ceased to amuse me how much adding one unnecessary piece of information would throw the plug-and-chugger into chaos. $\endgroup$ Jan 1 '21 at 17:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.