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How to Solve Math Problems

Last Updated: May 16, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Daron Cam . Daron Cam is an Academic Tutor and the Founder of Bay Area Tutors, Inc., a San Francisco Bay Area-based tutoring service that provides tutoring in mathematics, science, and overall academic confidence building. Daron has over eight years of teaching math in classrooms and over nine years of one-on-one tutoring experience. He teaches all levels of math including calculus, pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, and SAT/ACT math prep. Daron holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and a math teaching credential from St. Mary's College. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 575,354 times.

Although math problems may be solved in different ways, there is a general method of visualizing, approaching and solving math problems that may help you to solve even the most difficult problem. Using these strategies can also help you to improve your math skills overall. Keep reading to learn about some of these math problem solving strategies.

Understanding the Problem

Step 1 Identify the type of problem.

  • Draw a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram shows the relationships among the numbers in your problem. Venn diagrams can be especially helpful with word problems.
  • Draw a graph or chart.
  • Arrange the components of the problem on a line.
  • Draw simple shapes to represent more complex features of the problem.

Step 5 Look for patterns.

Developing a Plan

Step 1 Figure out what formulas you will need to solve the problem.

Solving the Problem

Step 1 Follow your plan.

Expert Q&A

Daron Cam

  • Seek help from your teacher or a math tutor if you get stuck or if you have tried multiple strategies without success. Your teacher or a math tutor may be able to easily identify what is wrong and help you to understand how to correct it. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
  • Keep practicing sums and diagrams. Go through the concept your class notes regularly. Write down your understanding of the methods and utilize it. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to solve any problem in math

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Do Math Proofs

  • ↑ Daron Cam. Math Tutor. Expert Interview. 29 May 2020.
  • ↑ http://www.interventioncentral.org/academic-interventions/math/math-problem-solving-combining-cognitive-metacognitive-strategies
  • ↑ http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu/Extras/StudyMath/ProblemSolving.aspx
  • ↑ https://math.berkeley.edu/~gmelvin/polya.pdf

About This Article

Daron Cam

To solve a math problem, try rewriting the problem in your own words so it's easier to solve. You can also make a drawing of the problem to help you figure out what it's asking you to do. If you're still completely stuck, try solving a different problem that's similar but easier and then use the same steps to solve the harder problem. Even if you can't figure out how to solve it, try to make an educated guess instead of leaving the question blank. To learn how to come up with a solid plan to use to help you solve a math problem, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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4 steps to solve even the toughest math problem and improve your math skills, mathematics is a field where one can take multiple approaches to get to the solution of a problem. this simplified step-by-step approach will help you unravel the solution to even the toughest math problem..

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4 steps to solve even the toughest math problem and improve your math skills

There are multiple ways to solve math problems; however, a simplified method that can help everyone to solve even the toughest problem is a three-step process.

The process is:

1. Visualize the problem 2. Approach to be followed for that problem 3. Lastly, solve the problem

This three-step process could probably help you to improve your overall math skills.

1. Read carefully, understand, and identify the type of problem

how to solve any problem in math

Negative thoughts about word problems can be barriers to success.

When we feel we have no control, and continue repeating negative thoughts, we set up barriers to success. We need to calm our fears and change our negative feelings.

Start with a fresh slate and begin to think positive thoughts like the student in the cartoon below. Read the positive thoughts and say them out loud.

A cartoon image of a girl with a confident expression holding some books is shown. There are 4 thought bubbles. They read,

When it comes to word problems, a positive attitude is a big step toward success.

If we take control and believe we can be successful, we will be able to master word problems.

Think of something that you can do now but couldn’t do three years ago. Whether it’s driving a car, snowboarding, cooking a gourmet meal, or speaking a new language, you have been able to learn and master a new skill. Word problems are no different. Even if you have struggled with word problems in the past, you have acquired many new math skills that will help you succeed now!

Use a Problem-Solving Strategy for Word Problems

In earlier chapters, you translated word phrases into algebraic expressions, using some basic mathematical vocabulary and symbols. Since then you’ve increased your math vocabulary as you learned about more algebraic procedures, and you’ve had more practice translating from words into algebra.

You have also translated word sentences into algebraic equations and solved some word problems. The word problems applied math to everyday situations. You had to restate the situation in one sentence, assign a variable, and then write an equation to solve. This method works as long as the situation is familiar to you and the math is not too complicated.

Now we’ll develop a strategy you can use to solve any word problem. This strategy will help you become successful with word problems. We’ll demonstrate the strategy as we solve the following problem.

Pete bought a shirt on sale for $[latex]18[/latex], which is one-half the original price. What was the original price of the shirt?

Solution: Step 1. Read the problem. Make sure you understand all the words and ideas. You may need to read the problem two or more times. If there are words you don’t understand, look them up in a dictionary or on the Internet.

  • In this problem, do you understand what is being discussed? Do you understand every word?

Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. It’s hard to find something if you are not sure what it is! Read the problem again and look for words that tell you what you are looking for!

  • In this problem, the words “what was the original price of the shirt” tell you what you are looking for: the original price of the shirt.

Step 3. Name what you are looking for. Choose a variable to represent that quantity. You can use any letter for the variable, but it may help to choose one that helps you remember what it represents.

  • Let [latex]p=[/latex] the original price of the shirt

Step 4. Translate into an equation. It may help to first restate the problem in one sentence, with all the important information. Then translate the sentence into an equation.

The top line reads:

Step 6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.

  • We found that [latex]p=36[/latex], which means the original price was [latex]\text{\$36}[/latex]. Does [latex]\text{\$36}[/latex] make sense in the problem? Yes, because [latex]18[/latex] is one-half of [latex]36[/latex], and the shirt was on sale at half the original price.

Step 7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.

  • The problem asked “What was the original price of the shirt?” The answer to the question is: “The original price of the shirt was [latex]\text{\$36}[/latex].”

If this were a homework exercise, our work might look like this:

The top reads,

We list the steps we took to solve the previous example.

Problem-Solving Strategy

  • Read the word problem. Make sure you understand all the words and ideas. You may need to read the problem two or more times. If there are words you don’t understand, look them up in a dictionary or on the internet.
  • Identify what you are looking for.
  • Name what you are looking for. Choose a variable to represent that quantity.
  • Translate into an equation. It may be helpful to first restate the problem in one sentence before translating.
  • Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
  • Check the answer in the problem. Make sure it makes sense.
  • Answer the question with a complete sentence.

For a review of how to translate algebraic statements into words, watch the following video.

Let’s use this approach with another example.

Yash brought apples and bananas to a picnic. The number of apples was three more than twice the number of bananas. Yash brought [latex]11[/latex] apples to the picnic. How many bananas did he bring?

In the next example, we will apply our Problem-Solving Strategy to applications of percent.

Nga’s car insurance premium increased by [latex]\text{\$60}[/latex], which was [latex]\text{8%}[/latex] of the original cost. What was the original cost of the premium?

  • Write Algebraic Expressions from Statements: Form ax+b and a(x+b). Authored by : James Sousa (Mathispower4u.com) for Lumen Learning. Located at : https://youtu.be/Hub7ku7UHT4 . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Question ID 142694, 142722, 142735, 142761. Authored by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : IMathAS Community License, CC-BY + GPL
  • Prealgebra. Provided by : OpenStax. License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]

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How to Study Maths: 7 Tips for Solving Maths Problems

Mathematics  is a subject that every student has to study at one time or another. Some love it but if we’re being honest, most people hate studying maths. The importance of maths for students has never been more prominent. Most university courses include some level of maths while almost every profession uses maths in some form on a daily basis. The problem many students have is that they don’t know  how to study maths to get good results.

Maths is one of those subjects which you can easily spend hours studying but end up none the wiser. However much you have studied, if you can not solve the problem on day of the test, you are lost. Thankfully, there are some  techniques for studying maths  that you can do regardless of your level.

7 Tips for Maths Problem Solving

1. practice, practice & more practice.

It is impossible to study maths properly by just reading and listening. To study maths you have to roll up your sleeves and actually solve some problems.   The more you practice answering maths problems, the better . Each problem has its own characteristics and it’s important to have solved it in numerous ways before tackling the exam. There is no escaping this reality, to do well in a Maths exam you need to have solved a LOT of mathematical problems beforehand.

2. Review Errors

When you’re practising with these problems, it’s important to  work through the process for each solution . If you have made any mistakes, you should review them and understand where your problem-solving skills let you down. Understanding how you approached the problem and where you went wrong is a great way of becoming stronger and avoiding the same mistakes in the future.

3. Master the Key Concepts

Do not try to memorise the processes.  This is counter-productive. It is much better and rewarding in the long-run to focus on understanding the process and logic that is involved. This will help you understand how you should approach such problems in the future.

Remember that Maths is a  sequential subject  so it’s important to have a firm understanding of the key concepts that underpin a mathematical topic before moving on to work on other, more complex solutions which are based on understanding the basics.

4. Understand your Doubts

Sometimes you can get stuck trying to solve part of a maths problem and find it difficult to move on to the next stage.  It’s common for many students to skip this question and continue on to the next. You should avoid doing this and instead spend time trying to understand the process of solving the problem. Once you have grasped an understanding of the initial problem, you can use this as a stepping stone to progress to the remainder of the question.

Remember: Maths requires time and patience to master.

It is a good idea to study with a friend who you can consult with and bounce ideas off when trying to solve complex problems.

5. Create a Distraction Free Study Environment

Mathematics is a subject that requires more  concentration  than any other. A proper study environment and a  distraction free area  could be the determining factor when solving complex equations or problems in geometry, algebra or trigonometry!

Studying with music can help create a relaxing atmosphere and stimulate the flow of information. Having suitable background music can foster an environment of maximum concentration.

6. Create a growing Mathematical Dictionary

Mathematics has specific terminology with a lot of  vocabulary . We suggest you create notes, flash cards or cheat sheets with all the concepts, terminology and definitions you need to know. You should include their meanings, some key points and even some sample answers so you can consult them at any time and recap.

7. Apply Maths to Real World Problems

As much as possible, try to apply real-world problems when approaching maths. Maths can be very abstract sometimes so looking for a practical application can help change your perspective and assimilate ideas differently.

Probability, for example, can be used in everyday life to predict the outcome of something happening and determine whether you want to take a risk such as if you should buy a lottery ticket or gamble.

Don’t forget that it’s also important  to have confidence in yourself  and face the exam knowing that you have prepared properly!

Article credit:  https://www.goconqr.com/en/examtime/blog/how-to-study-maths/

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Study Smarter

17 maths problem solving strategies to boost your learning.

Worded problems getting the best of you? With this list of maths problem-solving strategies , you'll overcome any maths hurdle that comes your way.

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Friday, 3rd June 2022

  • What are strategies?

Understand the problem

Devise a plan, carry out the plan, look back and reflect, practise makes progress.

Problem-solving is a critical life skill that everyone needs. Whether you're dealing with everyday issues or complex challenges, being able to solve problems effectively can make a big difference to your quality of life.

While there is no one 'right' way to solve a problem, having a toolkit of different techniques that you can draw upon will give you the best chance of success. In this article, we'll explore 17 different math problem-solving strategies you can start using immediately to deepen your learning and improve your skills.

What are maths problem-solving strategies?

Before we get into the strategies themselves, let's take a step back and answer the question: what are these strategies? In simple terms, these are methods we use to solve mathematical problems—essential for anyone learning how to study maths . These can be anything from asking open-ended questions to more complex concepts like the use of algebraic equations.

The beauty of these techniques is they go beyond strictly mathematical application. It's more about understanding a given problem, thinking critically about it and using a variety of methods to find a solution.

Polya's 4-step process for solving problems

We're going to use Polya's 4-step model as the framework for our discussion of problem-solving activities . This was developed by Hungarian mathematician George Polya and outlined in his 1945 book How to Solve It. The steps are as follows:

We'll go into more detail on each of these steps as well as take a look at some specific problem-solving strategies that can be used at each stage.

This may seem like an obvious one, but it's crucial that you take the time to understand what the problem is asking before trying to solve it. Especially with a math word problem , in which the question is often disguised in language, it's easy for children to misinterpret what's being asked.

confident student learning subtraction and counting in her head

Here are some questions you can ask to help you understand the problem:

Do I understand all the words used in the problem?

What am I asked to find or show?

Can I restate the problem in my own words?

Can I think of a picture or diagram that might help me understand the problem?

Is there enough information to enable me to find a solution?

Is there anything I need to find out first in order to find the answer?

What information is extra or irrelevant?

Once you've gone through these questions, you should have a good understanding of what the problem is asking. Now let's take a look at some specific strategies that can be used at this stage.

1. Read the problem aloud

This is a great strategy for younger students who are still learning to read. By reading the problem aloud, they can help to clarify any confusion and better understand what's being asked. Teaching older students to read aloud slowly is also beneficial as it encourages them to internalise each word carefully.

2. Summarise the information

Using dot points or a short sentence, list out all the information given in the problem. You can even underline the keywords to focus on the important information. This will help to organise your thoughts and make it easier to see what's given, what's missing, what's relevant and what isn't.

3. Create a picture or diagram

This is a no-brainer for visual learners. By drawing a picture,let's say with division problems, you can better understand what's being asked and identify any information that's missing. It could be a simple sketch or a more detailed picture, depending on the problem.

4. Act it out

Visualising a scenario can also be helpful. It can enable students to see the problem in a different way and develop a more intuitive understanding of it. This is especially useful for math word problems that are set in a particular context. For example, if a problem is about two friends sharing candy, kids can act out the problem with real candy to help them understand what's happening.

5. Use keyword analysis

What does this word tell me? Which operations do I need to use? Keyword analysis involves asking questions about the words in a problem in order to work out what needs to be done. There are certain key words that can hint at what operation you need to use.

How many more?

How many left?

Equal parts

Once you understand the problem, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to solve it. This is where having a plan is vital. By taking the time to think about your approach, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration later on.

young student learning to recognise multiplication and number patterns

There are many methods that can be used to figure out a pathway forward, but the key is choosing an appropriate one that will work for the specific problem you're trying to solve. Not all students understand what it means to plan a problem so we've outlined some popular problem-solving techniques during this stage.

6. Look for a pattern

Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to look for a pattern. This could be a number, a shape pattern or even just a general trend that you can see in the information given. Once you've found it, you can use it to help you solve the problem.

7. Guess and check

While not the most efficient method, guess and check can be helpful when you're struggling to think of an answer or when you're dealing with multiple possible solutions. To do this, you simply make a guess at the answer and then check to see if it works. If it doesn't, you make another systematic guess and keep going until you find a solution that works.

8. Working backwards

Regressive reasoning, or working backwards, involves starting with a potential answer and working your way back to figure out how you would get there. This is often used when trying to solve problems that have multiple steps. By starting with the end in mind, you can work out what each previous step would need to be in order to arrive at the answer.

9. Use a formula

There will be some problems where a specific formula needs to be used in order to solve it. Let's say we're calculating the cost of flooring panels in a rectangular room (6m x 9m) and we know that the panels cost $15 per sq. metre.

installation of floor for area maths problem

There is no mention of the word 'area', and yet that is exactly what we need to calculate. The problem requires us to use the formula for the area of a rectangle (A = l x w) in order to find the total cost of the flooring panels.

10. Eliminate the possibilities

When there are a lot of possibilities, one approach could be to start by eliminating the answers that don't work. This can be done by using a process of elimination or by plugging in different values to see what works and what doesn't.

11. Use direct reasoning

Direct reasoning, also known as top-down or forward reasoning, involves starting with what you know and then using that information to try and solve the problem . This is often used when there is a lot of information given in the problem.

By breaking the problem down into smaller chunks, you can start to see how the different pieces fit together and eventually work out a solution.

12. Solve a simpler problem

One of the most effective methods for solving a difficult problem is to start by solving a simpler version of it. For example, in order to solve a 4-step linear equation with variables on both sides, you could start by solving a 2-step one. Or if you're struggling with the addition of algebraic fractions, go back to solving regular fraction addition first.

Once you've mastered the easier problem, you can then apply the same knowledge to the challenging one and see if it works.

13. Solve an equation

Another common problem-solving technique is setting up and solving an equation. For instance, let's say we need to find a number. We know that after it was doubled, subtracted from 32, and then divided by 4, it gave us an answer of 6. One method could be to assign this number a variable, set up an equation, and solve the equation by 'backtracking and balancing the equation'.

Now that you have a plan, it's time to implement it. This is where you'll put your problem-solving skills to the test and see if your solution actually works. There are a few things to keep in mind as you execute your plan:

14. Be systematic

When trying different methods or strategies, it's important to be systematic in your approach. This means trying one problem-solving strategy at a time and not moving on until you've exhausted all possibilities with that particular approach.

student practising word problems at home

15. Check your work

Once you think you've found a solution, it's important to check your work to make sure that it actually works. This could involve plugging in different values or doing a test run to see if your solution works in all cases.

16. Be flexible

If your initial plan isn't working, don't be afraid to change it. There is no one 'right' way to solve a problem, so feel free to try different things, seek help from different resources and continue until you find a more efficient strategy or one that works.

17. Don't give up

It's important to persevere when trying to solve a difficult problem. Just because you can't see a solution right away doesn't mean that there isn't one. If you get stuck, take a break and come back to the problem later with fresh eyes. You might be surprised at what you're able to see after taking some time away from it.

Once you've solved the problem, take a step back and reflect on the process that you went through. Most middle school students forget this fundamental step. This will help you to understand what worked well and what could be improved upon next time.

learning about data and statistics at home

Whether you do this after a math test or after an individual problem, here are some questions to ask yourself:

What was the most challenging part of the problem?

Was one method more effective than another?

Would you do something differently next time?

What have you learned from this experience?

By taking the time to reflect on your process you'll be able to improve upon it in future and become an even better problem solver. Make sure you write down any insights so that you can refer back to them later.

There is never only one way to solve math problems. But the best way to become a better problem solver is to practise, practise, practise! The more you do it, the better you'll become at identifying different strategies, and the more confident you'll feel when faced with a challenging problem.

The list we've covered is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good starting point for you to begin your journey. When you get stuck, remember to keep an open mind. Experiment with different approaches. Different word problems. Be prepared to go back and try something new. And most importantly, don't forget to have fun!

The essence and beauty of mathematics lies in its freedom. So while these strategies provide nice frameworks, the best work is done by those who are comfortable with exploration outside the rules, and of course, failure! So go forth, make mistakes and learn from them. After all, that's how we improve our problem-solving skills and ability.

Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're struggling to solve math word problems, there's no shame in seeking assistance from a certified Melbourne maths tutor . In every lesson at Math Minds, our expert teachers encourage students to think creatively, confidently and courageously.

If you're looking for a mentor who can guide you through these methods, introduce you to other problem-solving activities and help you to understand Mathematics in a deeper way - get in touch with our team today. Sign up for your free online maths assessment and discover a world of new possibilities.

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how to solve any problem in math

Math | 7 year AGO

10 Simple Ways to Tackle Math Problem!!

Written by Admin


"How you approach math is much more important than how smart you are"

Math sharpens your power of reasoning and critical thinking,it is required for almost all the degrees.  Recent study has shown that 87% of our self-talk is negative, how many of you have heard yourselves, when others say

         Why do we have this subject math?


           I am not good at math !!

How do you solve Math problems , that sounds really difficult, isn't it ?

Here are 10 steps to understand or tackle Math problem a little bit better

How do they do it so easily are some of the questions many of us must have asked sometimes. Well,there are some ways and steps that you can always use in understanding math.

Book a Free Demo Now!

Remember that math is a sequential subject so you need not memorize anything. It is important to have a firm understanding of the key concepts. The more you practice, the  more you understand along the way.

Math Problem

1. Understand every Definition:

First of all, it's important to understand every definition that comes your way, definitions are just like vocabulary, the sooner you match the definition, the more you'll be able to understand what you're studying and more quickly you'll be able to apply it.

For instance, if you take Estimation as an example :

This is the ability to make a good guess about the amount or size of something. This is very difficult for young children to do. You can help them by showing them the meaning of words like more, less, bigger, smaller, more than, less than.

Nolan (30 months) looked at the two bagels: one was a regular bagel, one was a mini-bagel. His dad asked: “Which one would you like?” Nolan pointed to the regular bagel. His dad said, “You must be hungry! That bagel is bigger. That bagel is smaller. Okay, I’ll give you the bigger one. Breakfast is coming up!”

2. Understanding various operations and how they are suppose to be solved:  

One of the most important things in math is operation and their order

Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction and some other operations are part of PEMDAS or “please excuse my dear aunt sally”

Of Course, It is to review your parentheses, again what that stands for the first exponent, second multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. The order of operations will always be used throughout every branch or portion of mathematics.

Math Problem

3. The use of math:

The sooner you'll understand how math is applied in everyday life or in practical purposes then this more you'll be able to appreciate and in turn, understand and relate to math more.

It's almost impossible to through a day without using math anyways because our world is full of numbers.studying math provides you with tools to make sense of it all.

Suppose, you’ve decided to go out for dinner with friends. You placed the order, food is excellent, now it's time to split the bill. Who had pizza? Who had a drink ? did the waiter add up everything correctly? These all will be the thoughts going on in your mind.

Being able to perform   will get it sorted in no time and percentage will help to leave a tip for the waiter !!!!  

4. Take the problem and break it:

Before starting with the solution of math problem try this technique,

if you can't take one sentence at a time then you can break it into little phrases.The more you'll be able to understand these phrases, the more you'll be able to understand the whole problem.

Because after that from little pieces, you will be able to figure out what kind of equations are involved.

5. Look for a word clue:

Suppose if you see, the sum of, that means addition, the product of 2 numbers is right away multiplication and difference of means subtraction and so on and so forth.

So word clue is a very important thing to look for when it comes to Math problems so that you know what kind of operations and procedures are involved.

6. Review your notes:

Check everything you have written down to solve the problem. you don't have to straightaway go to the solution step, before solving just see that have you collected the proper formula or method whichever is required.

7. Use Logical Reasoning:

To solve a problem you need to use logic, every math problem has a logic behind it. Online games, brain teasers,puzzles and online number games help in solving problems too .

For example-   Jasmine, Martina, and trace have their tiara’s and scarfs mixed up.Each girl puts on another girls tiaras and a different girls scarf.Jasmine wears Tracy's tiara. Whose tiara and scarf does each girl wear?

  • Jasmine wears Tracy's tiara
  • Each wears another girl tiara
  • Each wears a different girl's scarf

Make a table and organise the given information through elimination you can reach a conclusion :

8 . Plan to solve the stages:

After you're done with the identification and understanding the problem next comes planning, plan your stages for solving the problem, never rush to a conclusion directly.

Always try to solve a math problem step by step. Do not try to solve everything at once. This makes your work simple and easy.

9.  Justify the answer:

while justifying the answers child must keep few things in mind : what did you do (be specific) ? why did you do it?

If you try another way will you get the same answer ? Did you answer what the problem is asking ? write the answer in a complete sentence. 


It is a cliched term but it is one that still very true today especially when it comes to math Problems. T he more you practice the mathematics the better of you will be.

At the back of every chapter, a lot of textbooks offer  chapter-tests, chapter reviews as well as cumulative reviews which allow you to use what you have learned now and combine with what you have learned before to give you a complete understanding of the course.

Math Problem

Be positive in your ability and believe that you can !!!!

how to solve any problem in math

Nyra Jones 21 May, 2021

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