5 Thinking Strategies

Sharpen your thinking skills with these handy hints

Math & logical reasoning tests can sometimes be a little stressful. As well as studying to learn all the techniques you can, it’s worth planning some different thinking approaches that can help you get ahead.

The Global Math Challenge team have put together some handy problem-solving approaches into what we call the 5 Thinking Strategies. If you come across a difficult question and don’t know where to start, try to think about these strategies – using them might help you make a breakthrough when you’re faced with a tough question.
Firstly, let’s look at the Scan and Step strategies. These are useful as your first approach to a question.

  • Scan
    Jot down all the key information in the question. Try to visualise the question; turning it into a picture or a diagram can help. Turning a series of figures into a rough bar or pie chart can help you get a grasp on the problem.
  • Step
    Draw out facts based on the information that you picked up using the Scan approach. After you have established some facts, connect them together to see what patterns appear – may connect to the answer. If you think you almost have the answer, the Reverse and Knock strategies can be very effective
  • Reverse
    Make sure what exactly is questioned here. Find what is necessary to get the answer you want. Think how you can get the information that is missing on the way to the answer.
  • Knock
    Sometimes, you may get some possible answers even after you narrow down the options. In this case, check every possibility one by one.
    But what if you have no idea whatsoever? Then it’s time to use Create!
  • Create
    Try anything that pops up in your head to solve the question. Keep kneading the question until the eureka moment comes to you. Once you get an idea, or a hint appears, try utilising some of the other thinking strategies to push on.

Some of the puzzles in Global Math Challenge might look tricky at first glance but they can be solved by anyone – as long as you can discover the right approach. Keep your math passion burning and your brain cool. You can use the 5 Thinking Strategies as a useful tool when taking on puzzles not just in tests but in your daily life too. If you have a great way of approaching a puzzle, we’d love to hear – please let us know on twitter at @global_math

Global Math Challenge is a free to enter online contest produced by Sony Global Education in association with the Japan Prime Math Olympic Committee. Sign up today and Meet the World Through Math.