Interpreting Expressions that Represent a Quantity | Math
The ability to start thinking of math as a language is at the very core of the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Mathematics subtest. The TASC Math subtest considers the mastery of interpreting expressions that represent a quantity to be a high emphasis skill.
Shmoop.com, a site aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards for student preparation, helps you grasp mathematical language. “An expression is a thought or idea communicated by language. In the same way, a mathematical expression can be considered a mathematical thought or idea communicated by the language of mathematics.”
An expression can be thought of as both a single quantity and a combination of one or more individual terms. Take a look at these examples from Mathgoodies.com:
Ms. Jensen likes to divide her class into groups of 2. Use mathematical symbols to represent all the students in her class.
Let g represent the number of groups in Ms. Jensen's class. Then 2 · g, or 2g can represent "g groups of 2 students."
In example one, the variable g represents the number of groups in Ms. Jensen’s class. In a previous Mathematics subtest blog post, you may recall that a variable is a symbol that stands for a number in an expression or an equation. The variable is the item that is being solved for. The value of a variable can vary.
Each phrase can be changed to an algebraic expression:
- Phrase: Nine increased by a number x. Expression: 9 + x
- Phrase: Fourteen decreased by a number p. Expression: 14 – p
- Phrase: Seven less than a number t. Expression: t – 7
- Phrase: The product of 9 and a number n. Expression: 9 · n or 9n
- Phrase: Thirty-two divided by a number y. Expression: 32 ÷ y or 32/y
Each of these examples contains one number, one operation, and one variable.
A small company has $1,000 to distribute to its employees as a bonus. How much money will each employee get?
You can let any number represent the number of employees at the company: 1000/e.
Visit Onlinemathlearning.com for videos on interpreting expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.