Linear Systems Word Problems
Now that we have techniques for solving systems we can set up our word problems with two variables. If we use two variables we will need two equations. With this in mind, look for two relationships when reading the questions.
For each problem you will need to:
a. Define the variables in WORDS. (Let x = … Let y =…)
b. Write the system of equations
c. Use substitution or elimination to solve: SHOW WORK
d. State your solution in sentence form.
A. Number Problems:
Last season two running backs on the Steelers football team rushed or a combined total of 1550 yards. One rushed 4 times as many yards as the other. How many yards were rushed by each player?


The set –up determines the method we will choose to solve the system. Since the y variable was isolated the easiest method to choose was the substitution method. Although, it does not matter which method we choose the answer will be the same.
A particular Algebra text has a total of 1382 pages which is broken into two parts. The second part of the book has 64 more pages than the first part. How many pages are in each part of the book.


B. Mixture Problems
Dennis mowed his next door neighbor’s lawn for a handful of dimes and nickels, 80 coins in all. Upon completing the job he counted out the coins and it came to $6.60. How many of each coin did he earn?


On Monday Joe bought 10 cups of coffee and 5 doughnuts for his office at the cost of $16.50. It turns out that the doughnuts were more popular than the coffee. On Tuesday he bought 5 cups of coffee and 10 doughnuts for a total of $14.25. How much was each cup of coffee?


A chemistry teacher needs to make 10 L of 42% sulphuric acid solution. The acid solutions available are 30% sulphuric acid and 50% sulphuric acid, by volume. How many liters of each solution must be mixed to make the 42% solution?


C. Geometry Problems
Two angels are supplementary. The larger angle is 48 degrees more than 10 times the smaller angle. Find the measure of each angle.


Two angles are complementary. The larger angle is 3 degrees less than twice the measure of the smaller angle. Find the measure of each angle.


The perimeter of a rectangular garden is 62 feet. The length is 1 foot more than twice the width. Find the dimension of the garden.


D. Interest Problems
Sally’s $1800 savings is in two accounts. Her total interest for the year was $93 from one account earning 6% interest and another earning 3% interest. How much does she have in each account?


When setting up these word problems look for totals. The above example is very typical, notice that one of the equations consists of the total amount invested. The other equation represents the total amount of interest for the year.
Also notice that it is wise to identify your variables EVERY time. This focuses your efforts and aids in finding the solution. It also tells us what our answers mean at the end.
Millicent has $10,000 invested in two accounts. For the year she earned $535 more interest from her 7% Mutual Fund account than she did from her 4% CD. How much does she have in each account?


Always check to make sure your answer makes sense in terms of the word problem. If you come up with an answer of, say x = 20,000 in the problem above you know this is unreasonable since the total amount is 10,000. At that point you should first go back and check your setup them check your algebra steps from there.
The idea behind distance problems, sometimes called uniform motion problems, is to organize the given data. First identify the variables then try to fill in the chart with the appropriate values. Sometimes your set up can come from columns in the chart and other times the set up will come from the rows. Remember D = r t.
E. Uniform Motion Problems
An executive traveled 1930 miles by car and plane. He drove to the airport at an average speed of 60 mph and the plane averaged 350 mph. The total trip took 8 hours. How long did it take to get to the airport?


A boat traveled 24 miles downstream in 2 hours. The return trip took twice as long. What is the speed of the boat in still water?


Word problems take practice! Be sure to review the problems we have completed. Do not plan on skipping them on quizzes and tests – this is not a winning strategy. Usually once we set up a word problem correctly, the algebra is easier than the other problems.
