One of the types of questions you’ll see on both the SAT exam and the ACT exam are word problems. You know, situations where you’re given real-world scenarios, and you have to figure out the answer to a particular question based on the data you’re given.
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It’s common to see conversions in word problems. Conversions ask you to change a value from one form of measurement into another. In today’s article, we’re going to cover one specific type of measurement conversion: imperial volume conversion.
Specifically, we’re going to show you how to figure out how many cups are in 4 quarts. (Spoiler alert: 16 cups are in 4 quarts!)
We’ll teach you:The math formula for converting cups to quartsHow to figure out how many cups is 4 quarts by figuring out the cups to quarts conversionHow to read a chart that explains different imperial volume conversions
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Measurement Systems: Imperial vs Metric
Volume measurements like ounces, cups, and quarts are all part of the imperial system of measurement, which is the primary method of measurement used in the United States. (Most of the world uses the metric system.)
The metric system uses a base 10 system, meaning each measurement increases by a factor of 10. That’s why it’s so easy to convert in the metric system--all you have to do is move the decimal point left or right depending on the unit. So for example, it’s easy to convert 320 milliliters to centiliters...you just move the decimal point one position to the left. And voila! You’ve converted 320 milliliters to 32 centiliters!
Unfortunately, the imperial system doesn’t use a base 10 system, which means conversions are much more confusing. In order to do imperial conversions correctly, you have to either a) memorize the different conversion values or b) use a conversion chart. That’s the most important factor in figuring out our quarts to cups conversion!
But don’t worry. We’ve provided you a handy-dandy conversion chart below, and we recommend bookmarking this article so you’ll always have it handy!
Quart to Cup Conversion: The Math Formula
Okay, now that you understand how tricky conversions can be, let’s walk through one so you can see how to use a conversion chart to convert imperial measurements. Go ahead and scroll down to the chart. Follow the instructions in that section to figure out how many cups are in a quart.
Did you do it?
Then you know that four cups equals one quart!
To write that as a mathematical formula to solve our conversion problem, we need to think about what we now know. We’ve figured out that there are four cups in one quart, which looks like this as a mathematical expression:
1Q = 4C
In this case, “Q” stands for quarts and “C” stands for cups. (These aren’t variables you need to solve for.) Now all we have to do is work this equation.
How Many Cups Is 4 Quarts?
Okay, now that you know how to do the math, let’s figure out how many cups are in four quarts! To start off, let’s go back to our equation:
1Q = 4C
Now, let’s think about what we know. We know we have four quarts, so we’ll have to multiply the left side of the equation by four to get the right value.
But as you’ve learned, you can never change one side of the equation without doing the same thing to the other side. That means you’ll have to multiply the right side by four, too. Here’s what that looks like:
4 * 1Q = 4 * 4C
Once we work that out, the final expression looks like this:
4Q = 16C
In other words, we now know there are 16 cups in 4 quarts, and you’ve finished your conversion!
How to Find Other Conversions
Now that you know how to solve questions like “how many cups is 4 quarts,” you can do the same for any other imperial conversion on our conversion chart. The fundamental steps are always the same:Figure out what value you have and what value you need. Ask yourself, “what do I know” to find the value you have, and “what do I need to know” to find the value you need.Check the chart to get the right factor. You’re trying to figure out the 1 to 1 ratio here. So for our equation, it was four cups in 1 quart...but it could be anything! For example, if you wanted to work backward from quarts to cups, you’d have to multiply both sides of the equation by .25 instead.Set up the conversion as an expression. This is where you set the value you have as equal to the value you need.Multiply, multiply, multiply! Multiply both sides by the correct factor.
And that’s it! It’s a little more work to do than metric conversions. But once you understand how conversion works, it’s a piece of cake!
Volume Conversion Chart
Like we mentioned earlier, the easiest way to figure out imperial conversions is to reference an imperial volume conversion chart.
That’s why we’ve included a conversion chart here! Here’s how to use it for a quarts to cups conversion:Find the value that you know in the left column. So, if we’re trying to figure out how many cups is 4 quarts, we know how many quarts we have. That means we want to locate “quarts” in the left column.Now, find the value you want to convert to in the top row. In this case, we want to find “cups.” Go ahead and try that for yourself below:
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You’ve now figured out that there are four cups in one quart, which is what you’ll use to solve our particular problem. But now that you have this chart, you can use the method we outlined above to do almost any conversion!
Conversions are just one type of math problem you might face. Make sure you’re prepared for the test by reading our Ultimate Guide to SAT Math Prep and our Ultimate Guide to ACT Math Prep!
If you’re feeling pretty confident, why not test your skills against the 13 hardest SAT Math questions ever? If you can conquer those, you’ll likely do great on the SAT, too! (Here are the hardest math questions on the ACT, too.)
If you need a little extra practice, why not check out some math prep books? Here’s a list of our favorites.