# How to Solve Word Problems by Working Backwards Part 3

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we have learned how to solve number age problems by working backward. In this post, we are going to learn how to solve backward using inverse operations. Recall that multiplication and division are inverse operations and addition and subtraction are inverse operations.

Example 5

A number is multiplied by 4 and then, 3 is added to the product. The result is 31. What is the number?

Solution

The key phrases in this problem are (1) multiplied by 4 and (2) added to (3) the result is 31. Since we are working backward, we start with 31, and then find the inverse of “added to 3” which is “subtract 3.” So, 31 – 3 = 28.

Next, we find the inverse of “multiplied by 4,” which is “divided by 4.” So, 28/4 = 7.

So, the answer to this problem is 7.

Check: 7(4) + 3 = 31

Example 6

Think of a number. Divide it by 8. Then subtract 4 from the quotient. The result is 5. What is the number?

Solution

The key phrases in this problem are (1) divided by 8 (2) subtract 4 and (3) the result is (3) the result is 5.

We start with the result which is 5 and find the inverse of “subtract 4” which is “add 4.” So, 5 + 4 = 9. Next, we find the inverse of “divide by 8” which is “multiply by 8.” So, 9(8) = 72.

So, the correct answer is 72.

Check: 72/8 – 4 = 9 – 4 = 5.

In the next post, we will discuss more about solving math word problems by working backward.

### 3 Responses

1. noy says:

Example 6

Think of a number. Divide it by 8. Then subtract 4 from the quotient. The result is 5. What is the number?

Solution

The key phrases in this problem are (1) divided by 8 (2) subtract 4 and (3) the result is (3) the result is 5.

We start with the result which is 5 and find the inverse of “subtract 4” which is “add 4.” So, 5 + 4 = 9. Next, we find the inverse of “divide by 8” which is “multiply by 8.” So, 9(8) = 72.

So, the correct answer is 872.

Check: 72/8 – 4 = 9 – 4 = 5.

872 really the correct answer? i dont get it

• Civil Service Reviewer says:

It was a typo error. The correct answer is 72. I edited it already. Sorry.