Time is what keeps all of us going every single day. Did you ever wonder what would have happened if we did not have a unit to measure time? Life would have got really complicated as we cannot keep track of any activity that has been done. Luckily, for most of us we learn how to measure time from a very young age starting childhood, we know the seconds, minutes and hours. To get even further we have the days, months and the years. All these are the most basic units for measuring time.

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Now that we are familiar with the units to measure time let’s take a look into how we can apply them in math word problems. Time always has a story to tell, but most students find it difficult to understand and solve when there is a word problem asking for the elapsed time. Here are some very useful tips and solved practice questions that will not only help you to understand questions related to elapsed time but also make you realize how simple they are:

Like any story even in the word problems we have a start time where the question begins and the end time where the question ends and in-between lies the time elapsed which has to be sorted out or solved for.

Now, let’s solve few word problems.

Jeremy likes to play soccer he goes for soccer practice every single day. He reached the playground around 5:00 PM and finished his practice at 6:00 PM. Calculate how long did Jeremy practice soccer on the playground?

Here in this question we are given that Jeremy reached the playground at 5:00 PM. (This is the start time.)

Later, we are given Jeremy finishes his practice around 6:00 PM (This is the end time.)

Now for calculating the time elapsed we need to find the difference between the end time and the start time. Hence we have

As shown above, this gives us the time elapsed for Jeremy soccer practice is 1 hour.

This question was quite simple as we have the time difference of just one hour. Now let us take a look at a question, where there is a time difference of more than an hour.

Let’s modify the same question:

Jeremy starts from home for his Soccer practice at 4:30 PM and returns home around 6:30 PM. Find the total time spend by Jeremy to reach back home after his soccer practice?

Here Jeremy leaves home for soccer practice at 4:30 PM and reaches the playground at 5:00 PM. The time taken can be calculated by the difference as shown in the diagram below.

We already calculated from the previous question, that Jeremy spent 1 hour at the soccer practice, this implies he leaves the playground at 6:00 PM and reaches home at 6:30 PM. This can be calculated as show below:

Finally, let’s bring it all together in one step as show in the diagram below:

We get, the total time spent by Jeremy to return back home equals 30 minutes + 1 hour + 30 minutes =2 hours.

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— Tutor Pace (@TutorPace) August 3, 2015

This is the kind of approach you may want to apply for any given word problem on elapsed time. Break the given time interval into hours and minutes, later find the total sum. Let us look at one more example:

Haley went camping with her family, they reached the campsite at 3:45 PM and took 1 hour 15 minutes to make all the arrangements. What time did they finish all the arrangements?

Here divide the time interval into hours and minutes as shown in the diagram below.

Hence it took around 5:00 PM for Haley and her family to make all the arrangements at the campsite.