Can You Solve These Basic Math Story Problems?

By: Becky
4 min
Image: shutterstock

Did you love story problems in school? Take this quiz to see if you are still good at them.

Number-based math problems are great because they teach basic math skills. But math story problems require the use of reading and comprehension skills, in addition to math, to solve. What stumps many people when they try to solve a math story problem is how to put the problem itself into a solvable format. When faced with a story problem, many people, even those who are good at math, just freeze. But these critical thinking skills are the key to applying math to real life.

We use math every day. If you have asked yourself, "How will I use this after I'm done with school?" we can assure you that you have used your math story problem skills daily, even after you left school. For instance, when you got married, you may have had to decide how big a hall you needed to rent to hold all of your guests. In your head, you understood that "I am inviting 150 guests, and my husband-to-be is inviting 79 guests. That means we need a hall that will accommodate how many people?" After doing the math, you discovered that the hall you rented needed to hold at least 229 guests. Let's hope, of course, that you went a bit further with this problem and included yourself, your groom and the wedding party.

So, if you think you can make the grade, take this How Stuff Works quiz!

Charlie had five planks of wood, and his friend Pete had ten. How many total planks of wood did Charlie and Pete have?
5
10
15
20

Charlie and Pete had a total of 15 planks of wood. This is a simple addition story problem.

Larry weighs 59 pounds. Joan weighs 49 pounds. How much heavier is Larry than Joan?
5 pounds
10 pounds
15 pounds
20 pounds

Larry weighs ten pounds more than Joan. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

A box of marbles contains five green marbles. How many green marbles are there in five identical boxes?
5
15
25
35

There are 25 green marbles in five identical boxes. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

Each child has ten fingers. If there are five children, how many fingers are there in total?
5
10
25
50

There are 50 fingers. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

Barbara removes four candies from a jar. There were originally 25 candies in the jar. How many candies are left in the jar?
4
12
21
25

There are 21 candies left in the jar. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

Mr. Hall's class is going on a field trip. There are 28 people going, and each bus seats seven people. How many buses will be needed for the field trip?
2
4
7
8

They will need four buses. This is a simple division story problem.

Carrie made five cookies, but there are fifteen people in her class. How many more cookies must Carrie make so everyone will have a cookie?
5
10
15
20

Carrie needs to make ten more cookies for the class. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

James has 77 pencils. He gives 33 pencils to Jeremy. How many pencils does James end up with?
33
44
77
98

James ends up with 44 pencils. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

Sally went to the grocery store. She bought 12 packs of cookies and 16 packs of crackers. How many items did she buy in total?
18
20
28
56

Sally bought 28 items. This is a simple addition story problem.

Each box has 50 crayons. If there are 10 boxes, how many total crayons are there?
10
50
250
500

There are 500 total crayons. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

Lawrence bought 87 bananas. 36 bananas are eaten by a monkey named Horace on the way home. How many bananas does Lawrence have left?
36
45
51
87

Lawrence has 51 bananas left. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

Sam went to a pet shop. He bought 15 goldfish, 8 blue fish, and 3 containers of fish food. How many fish did Sam buy?
8
15
23
26

Sam bought 23 fish. This is a simple addition story problem.

Karen read 18 pages of her book yesterday in only a half hour. Today, Karen read 23 pages. How many total pages has Karen read?
18
23
30
41

Karen has read a total of 41 pages. This is a simple addition story problem.

There are 5 students in Sally's class (including Sally). Sally brings in 30 apples. If Sally divides the apples equally among all of the students, how many apples will each student receive?
5
6
10
12

Each student will receive six apples. This is a simple division story problem.

In a school, there are 502 girls and 387 boys. How many students are in the school?
387
502
758
889

There are 889 students in the school. This is a simple addition story problem.

Harry's mom bought him 98 stickers. Harry lost 37 of them. How many stickers does Harry have left?
98
61
37
27

Harry has 61 stickers. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

Christina's mom bought two dozen oranges. Christina's brother ate 12 of them. How many oranges are left?
12
24
36
48

There are 12 oranges left. There are 12 items in a dozen.

Sally has 34 candies. Brenda has 128 candies. How many candies do they have together?
34
128
162
187

They have 162 candies together. This is a simple addition story problem.

Steve has 37 fish. He went to the store on Tuesday and bought 15 fish. Steve's brother then gave him 12 fish. How many fish does Steve have in total?
12
15
37
64

Steve has 64 fish. This is a simple addition story problem.

Sally went to the store nine times last month. Each time, Sally bought three cans of soda. How many cans of soda did Sally buy last month?
3
9
27
36

Sally bought 27 cans of soda last month. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

Linda has 50 beads. Sally steals 25 of them. How many beads does Linda have left?
25
50
75
100

Linda has 25 beads left. This is a simple subtraction story problem.

Mrs. Smith is buying presents for her two dogs. She is buying each dog a sweater, a leash and a bowl. How many items will she buy?
2
4
6
8

Mrs. Smith will buy six items. This is a simple addition story problem. This problem can also be solved using simple multiplication.

Sandy's mom is making 27 cookies for Sandy's birthday party. If nine children attend the party, how many cookies will each child get?
3
6
9
27

Each child will get three cookies. This is a simple division story problem.

Bob and June have three children. They will buy each child five gifts for Christmas. How many items will they buy for their children?
5
10
15
20

They will buy 15 gifts. This is a simple multiplication story problem. It can also be solved using addition.

Missy is making boots for her three dogs. How many boots will she need to make?
2
4
8
12

Missy will need to make 12 boots. This problem can be solved using addition or multiplication.

Jane played chess with 12 kids on Monday. She played chess with 7 kids on Tuesday and 3 kids on Wednesday. How many kids did she play with on Monday and Wednesday in total?
3
7
12
15

Jane played chess with 15 kids, total, on Monday and Wednesday. This is a simple addition story problem.

Sammy has a deck of cards. He loses all the face cards. How many cards does Sammy have left?
12
24
40
52

Sammy has 40 cards. This is a simple subtraction story problem, but it assumes that you know how many total cards and face cards are in a standard deck.

Cindy invited seven friends to her birthday party. She is making five cookies for each friend to eat. How many cookies does Cindy need to make?
5
7
21
35

Cindy needs to make 35 cookies. This is a simple multiplication story problem. (She might want to make five more for herself, though.)

Joe has 16 marbles. If Joe organizes his marble collection into two equal groups - large marbles and small marbles - how many marbles will be in each group?
2
8
16
32

There will be 8 marbles in each group, since the groups are equal in number. This is a simple division story problem.

There are 32 students in Mrs. Field's class. Each student writes two essays. How many essays does Mrs. Field need to grade?
2
32
64
96

Mrs. Field needs to grade 64 essays. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

When Clarice was ten, she had ten candles on her birthday cake. Five kids came to her birthday party. This year, Clarice had six more candles on her cake. How old is Clarice?
10
11
15
16

Clarice is 16. This is a simple addition story problem.

In total there are four green houses on Tammy's street and eight blue houses. Only half of all of the houses on Tammy's street have driveways. How many houses on Tammy's street have driveways?
4
6
8
12

Six houses on Tammy's street have driveways. You will need to use both addition and division to solve this story problem.

Ben ate three crackers before dinner. After dinner, he ate six more. He also ate nine pieces of cheese. How many crackers did Ben eat?
3
6
9
18

Ben ate nine crackers. This is a simple addition story problem.

Burt has ten puppets. Each puppet has two eyes. How many total eyes do Burt's puppets have?
5
10
15
20

Burt's puppets have a total of 20 eyes. This is a simple multiplication story problem.

Sally's class has 23 children. Each child brings in two dollars for a charity collection. If the class divides the money they raise evenly between two charities, how much money will each charity receive?
\$2.00
\$23.00
\$46.00
\$92.00