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20 Word Problems For Year 3: Develop Their Problem Solving Skills Across Single and Mixed KS2 Topics

Word problems for Year 3 are an important tool for improving number fluency. The key focus in maths in Year 3 of primary school is on ensuring pupils are becoming more fluent with number facts and the concept of place value. Children are starting to develop more efficient written methods by this stage and are beginning to carry out calculations with increasingly larger whole numbers.

As children progress through school, they are exposed to a wider variety of problem solving questions covering a range of concepts. In Year 3 maths these include the four operations, fractions, measures and statistics.  

It is important that children are regularly exposed to reasoning and problem solving questions, alongside the fluency work each lesson. It is also important to remember that all children need exposure to reasoning and problem solving questions, not just the higher attaining pupils who finish quickest.

We have put together a collection of 20 word problems, aimed at Year 3 pupils.

Years 3 to 6 Rapid Reasoning (Weeks 1-6)

Years 3 to 6 Rapid Reasoning (Weeks 1-6)

Download this free pack of word problems to improve your class' problem solving skills. Includes questions for Years 3 - 6.

Year 3 Maths Word Problems in the National Curriculum

In Year 3, pupils focus on one-step problems, covering a range of topics across the National Curriculum. At this stage the majority of word problems pupils are tackling will have one-step, but they may also start to be introduced to simple two-step word problems. Here is a breakdown of topics that will be covered and expectations in Year 3. 

Place value

Solve number problems and practical problems involving recognising the place value of each digit of a 3-digit number; comparing and ordering numbers up to 1000 and identifying, representing and estimating numbers using different representations.

Addition and subtraction

Solve problems, including missing number problems, using number facts, place value and more complex addition and subtraction.

Multiplication and division

Solve problems, including missing number problems, involving multiplication and division, including positive integer scaling problems and correspondence problems

Fractions and decimals

 Solve problems involving counting in tenths; recognising unit and non-unit fractions; recognising equivalent fractions and adding/ subtracting fractions with the same denominator.

Measurement

Solve problems involving length, volume and mass; adding and subtracting money; perimeter and problems involving time.

Statistics

Solve-step and two-step questions (For example, ‘How many more?’ and ‘How many fewer’?) using information presented in scaled bar charts, pictograms and tables.

Why are word problems important in Year 3 maths?

By Year 3, children are starting to learn how to use some of the formal written methods of addition and subtraction. It is important that the link between maths in school and maths in real-life continues to be made. Word problems are a key element in helping pupils to make this link. 

How to teach problem solving in Year 3

When teaching maths problems to Year 3, it’s important to think of ways to make them fun, engaging and something the children are able to relate to. This might include acting out the problem, using concrete resources and providing visual images, to bring the problems to life. 

Benefits of pairs, groups and class discussion 

Children should have plenty of opportunity to talk in pairs, groups and as a whole class, to share their understanding of what is being asked and their strategies for solving the problem. As with Key Stage One, the use of manipulatives is important and all children should have access to a range of maths resources when solving problems like this.

Pupils need to be encouraged to read word problems carefully and to make sure they understand what is being asked, before attempting to tackle the problem. This is where the use of a partner and group discussion can really help children’s understanding. Students then need to think about what they already know and how they can use this to help them answer the question. Where appropriate, pupils should also be encouraged to draw diagrams and pictures to help them solve the question.

Here is an example:

Mason needs 4 apples to make an apple pie.

If he has 28 apples. How many apple pies can he make?

How to solve:

What do you already know?

  • We know 4 apples are needed to make an apple pie.
  • We are told how many apples Mason has in total, so we must have to divide the total number by 4.
  • In year 3, children should be building confidence with multiplication and division facts for the 4 times table, so some will be able to quickly recall these facts to solve the problem.
  • Children who aren’t apple to recall quickly could use counters to represent the apples, or draw a bar model to help solve it.

How can this be drawn/represented pictorially?

We can draw a bar model or counters to represent this problem:

7 groups of 4 diagram
  • To calculate how pies the 28 apples will make, we can either use or draw 28 counters and put them into groups of 4. We can see that 28 counters will make 7 groups of 4.
  • Using the bar model, we can keep adding 4 to the bar until we reach 28. From the bar we can see that 7 x 4 = 28.
  • 7 apple pies can be made from the 28 apple pies that Mason has.

Addition word problems for Year 3

In Year 3, pupils are exposed to a range of addition questions, including problems involving mental addition and addition of up to 3-digits using formal written methods.

See also: Mental maths Year 3

Addition question 1

A family driving on holiday, travel 146 miles from home to the first service station.

They then drive a further 175 miles to reach their destination.

How far have they travelled altogether?

Answer (1 mark): 321 miles

146 + 175 = 321

Addition question 2

Evie is buying a bottle of drink from a vending machine. She has put in 40p. The vending machine shows she still needs to put in £1.25. 

How much is the bottle of drink?

Answer (1 mark): £1.65

125p + 40p = 165p

Addition question 3

Jamie scored 643 on his new online game.

Jared scored 468.

How many points did they score between them?

Answer (1 mark): 1111 points

643 + 468 = 1111

At Third Space Learning we often tie word problems into our one-to-one online tuition. With each programme personalised to the needs of each individual student, children are able to develop their problem solving skills, maths fluency and grow confidence in maths.

year 3 addition word problem slide
Example of addition word problems from a Third Space Learning online tutoring lesson

Subtraction word problems for Year 3

Subtraction word problems in Year 3 also need to comprise of a combination of mental calculation questions and those involving formal written subtraction up to 3-digits. Children should also be starting to estimate answers and check their calculations by using the inverse.

Subtraction question 1

Ahmed collects 374 stickers.

He needs 526 stickers to fill his sticker album.

How many more stickers does he need to collect?

Answer (1 mark): 152 stickers

526 – 374 = 152

Subtraction question 2

 A bag of carrots weigh 360g

A bag of tomatoes weighs 235g.

How much heavier is the bag of carrots?

Answer (1 mark): 125g

360 – 235 = 125

Subtraction question 3

 Ahmed buys a bag of sweets for £1.45.

He has a £2 coin. How much change will he get?

Answer (1 mark): 55p

200 – 145 or count up from £1.45 to £2

Multiplication word problems for Year 3

By the end of Year 3, pupils should be able to recall and use multiplication facts for the 3, 4 and 8 times table. They should also be starting to progress to using the formal written method for solving problems involving 2 digits multiplied by a 1-digit number. 

Multiplication question 1

It costs £7 for a cinema ticket

Amber’s mum pays for Amber and her 3 friends. 

How much does she pay for all the tickets?

Answer (1 mark): £28

7 x 4 = 28 

Multiplication question 2

5 mini buses are used to take Year 3 pupils on a school trip.

Each minibus transports 15 children.

How many children go on the school trip?

Answer (1 mark): 75 children

15 x 5 = 75

Multiplication question 3

There are 24 questions on a word problems worksheet. 

A group of 8 children each complete the worksheet.

How many questions will the teacher be marking?

Answer (1 mark): 112 questions

24 x 8 = 112

Division word problems for Year 3

In Year 3, pupils will need to learn the division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables. At this stage, pupils are required to learn the formal method for division, so word problems will involve mainly mental calculations.

Division question 1

6 children share 18 cookies between them. 

How many cookies does each child get?

 Answer (1 mark): 3 cookies

16 ÷ 6 = 3

Division question 2

The school choir needs to travel to the concert hall.

There are 32 children in the choir and parents have been asked to help transport the children.

Each parent is able to take 4 children in their car. How many cars will be needed to get all the children to the concert?

Answer (1 mark): 8 cars

 32 ÷ 4 = 8

Division question 3

 Cakes come in packs of 4.

If Jessica needs 36 cakes for her party, how many packs does she need to buy?

Answer (1 mark): 9 packs

36 ÷ 4 = 9

Fraction word problems in Year 3

In Year 3 pupils are exposed to a range of fraction problems, including questions involving counting up and down in tenths; equivalent fractions and adding/subtracting fractions with the same denominator.

Fraction question 1

Jude had 28 sweets.

He gave \frac{1}{4} of his sweets to his little sister.

How many did he have left?

Answer (1 mark): 21 sweets

\frac{1}{4} of 28 = 7

\frac{3}{4} of 28 = 21 or 28 – 7 = 21

Fraction question 2

Khalifa ate \frac{2}{8} of the chocolate bar and Abdulrahman ate \frac{3}{8} of it.

How much chocolate did they have left?

Answer (1 mark): \frac{3}{8}

\frac{2}{8} + \frac{3}{8} = \frac{5}{8} eaten

\frac{8}{8} \frac{5}{8} = \frac{3}{8}

Fraction question 3

 Molly ate half of a pizza and Rosie ate \frac{3}{6} .

Who ate the most?

Answer (1 mark): They both ate the same amount

\frac{3}{6} is equivalent to \frac{1}{2} .

Time word problems in Year 3

In Year 3 time may be incorporated into maths problem solving. Students are expected to know time vocabulary, be able to compare time in terms of seconds, minutes and hours and know how many seconds are in a minute and minutes are in an hour. 

Time question 1

The Smith family are driving to the beach.

They leave at 9:05am and arrive at 9:50am.

How long does the journey take them?

Answer (1 mark): 45 minutes

50 – 5 = 45    or     count up from 9:05 to 9:50 = 45 

Time question 2

Holly puts her cake in the oven at 4:22pm and takes it out again at 4:47. 

How long is the cake baking for?

Answer (1 mark): 25 minutes

47 – 22 = 25    or   count up from 4:22 to 4:47

Multi-step word problems in Year 3

When children first move into lower Key Stage 2, word problems are predominantly one-step. As they become more confident they can be exposed to more word problems, requiring a second step to solve them.

Multi-step question 1

Oliver had 3 bags of sweets.

Each bag contained 15 sweets.

If he shared the sweets between him and 4 friends, how many sweets would they all 5 of them get?

Answer (2 marks): 9 sweets

3 x 15 = 45 

45  ÷ 5 = 9

Multi-step question 2

A teacher photocopies 95 maths worksheets and 80 English worksheets in one week.

Teachers can print a maximum of 300 worksheets per week. 

How many can the teacher print for other subjects.

Answer (2 marks): 125 worksheets

 95 + 80 = 175

300 – 175 = 125

Multi-step question 3

Three friends go trick or treating. They add all their sweets together and share them out, so they all have an equal number of sweets.

If Ben gets 34 sweets, Sophie gets 28 and Maisie gets 22 sweets. How many will they each get, once they have put them together and shared them out?

Answer (2 marks): 28 sweets each

34 + 28 + 22 = 84 sweets

84  ÷ 3 = 28

More Year 3 maths resources

We hope that this collection of word problems for Year 3 becomes a useful resource in your Year 3 maths classroom. For more Year 3 maths resources, take a look at our library of Year 3 maths worksheets.

See also:

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 we’ve helped over 130,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

Primary school tuition targeted to the needs of each child and closely following the National Curriculum.

Emma Johnson
Emma Johnson
Assistant Headteacher
Emma is a former Deputy Head Teacher, with 12 years' experience leading primary maths. Over the past 18 years, she has worked in primary schools in the UK and internationally, in Qatar. She now runs a tutoring company and writes resources and blogs for Third Space Learning, She is also the creator of the YouTube channel Maths4Kids with her daughter, Amber.
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Years 3 to 6 Rapid Reasoning (Weeks 1-6)

Years 3 to 6 Rapid Reasoning (Weeks 1-6)

Download this free pack of word problems to improve your class' problem solving skills. Includes questions for Years 3 - 6.

Download Free Now!

Years 3 to 6 Rapid Reasoning (Weeks 1-6)

Downloadable resource

Download this free pack of word problems to improve your class' problem solving skills. Includes questions for Years 3 - 6.

Download Free Now!
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FREE KS2 maths SATs practice papers

Get ready for SATs with this set of 6 maths SATs practice papers designed to help your Year 6 pupils improve test skills and build confidence.

Includes:
- 2 arithmetic and 4 reasoning papers that follow the National Curriculum Assessments.
- Mark schemes to diagnose and assess where your pupils need extra support.

Download free