Math teaches us techniques to keep from getting stuck on problems.  Here is a list (not exhaustive) of techniques that you can try:

  • Find a pattern.  Start simple and work your way to a longer pattern and see if it holds.  Loosely, this is called inductive reasoning.
  • Draw a diagram.  Larger problems make it difficult to keep all the pieces in your head, so write it down and organize it then things may become clear.
  • Explain the problem to someone.  It doesn't even have to be someone who knows math.  The process of explaining it forces your brain to try to organize the problem.
  • Sleep on it.  Not all problems are solved in a single sitting.  Getting a little rest let's your subconscious do some of the work.
  • Try solving a simpler version of the problem.  If you can't solve a simpler problem, they maybe you have a misconception to work out.
  • Reverse engineer the problem.  If you know the solution, try doing the reverse operations to get to the start!
  • Make some intelligent guesses and test them.


Additional information