Lesson Objectives
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to solve a Linear Equation in One Variable
  • Learn the six-step process for solving any word problem that involves a Linear Equation in One Variable
  • Learn how to check the solution for a word problem
  • Learn how to set up and solve consecutive integer word problems

How to Solve a Consecutive Integer Word Problem


Over the course of the last few lessons, we have learned how to solve a linear equation in one variable. In real life, our problems will not be given to us in such a manner. We will need to create an equation based on the context of the given situation. When we first learn how to set up and solve word problems, it can be a real challenge for many students. It is often helpful to follow a step by step method for solving word problems.

Six-step method for Applications of Linear Equations in One Variable

  1. Read the problem carefully and determine what you are asked to find
    • Write down the main objective of the problem
  2. Assign a variable to represent the unknown
    • If more than one unknown exists, we express the other unknowns in terms of this variable
  3. Write out an equation which describes the given situation
  4. Solve the equation
  5. State the answer using a nice clear sentence
  6. Check the result by reading back through the problem
    • We need to make sure the answer is reasonable. In other words, if asked how many miles were driven to the store, the answer shouldn't be (-3) as we can't drive a negative amount of miles.

Consecutive Integer Word Problems

A common word problem that involves "sums of quantities" is to find unknown consecutive integers. Two consecutive integers will differ by 1. As an example, 1 and 2 are consecutive integers, as are 3 and 4.
Some Consecutive Integers:
1,2
3,4
5,6
7,8
9,10
Let's take a look at an example.
Example 1: Solve each word problem
When we add three consecutive integers together, the result is 21. What are the integers?
  1. Read the problem carefully and determine what you are asked to find
    • We are asked to find three consecutive integers.
  2. Assign a variable to represent the unknown
    • Let x = smallest consecutive integer
    • Then x + 1 = the middle consecutive integer
    • Then (x + 1) + 1 = the largest consecutive integer
  3. Write out an equation which describes the given situation
    • If we combine the three consecutive integers: x, (x + 1), (x + 1) + 1, our result is (equals) 21.
    • x + (x + 1) + (x + 1) + 1 = 21
  4. Solve the equation
    • x + (x + 1) + (x + 1) + 1 = 21
    • x + x + 1 + x + 1 + 1 = 21
    • 3x + 3 = 21
    • 3x + 3 - 3 = 21 - 3
    • 3x = 18
    • 3/3 x = 18/3
    • x = 6
  5. State the answer using a nice clear sentence
    • Since x represents the smallest consecutive integer, we know the smallest consecutive integer is 6.
    • The middle consecutive integer is 7, from (6 + 1).
    • The largest consecutive integer is 8, from (7 + 1).
    • Our three consecutive integers are 6, 7, and 8.
  6. Check the result by reading back through the problem
    • We know that the sum of the consecutive integers is 21.
    • Check: 6 + 7 + 8 = 21
    • 13 + 8 = 21
    • 21 = 21
    • Since our three consecutive integers sum to 21, our answer is correct.

Skills Check:

Example #1

Solve each word problem.

The sum of two pages that face each other in a book is 177. What are the page numbers?

Please choose the best answer.

A
86, 91
B
85, 92
C
176, 177
D
89, 90
E
88, 89

Example #2

Solve each word problem.

The sum of three consecutive even integers is 102. Find the integers.

Please choose the best answer.

A
32, 36, 38
B
20, 40, 62
C
18, 24, 40
D
32, 34, 36
E
2, 40, 60

Example #3

Solve each word problem.

When the smaller of two consecutive integers is added to 3 times the larger, the result is -37. Find the two integers.

Please choose the best answer.

A
7, 5
B
-1, 3
C
-6, -5
D
-10, -9
E
-12, -11
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