According to TakeLessons.com, the first and perhaps the most important step to solving an algebra word problem is to read the problem carefully through to the end before trying to solve any part of the problem. This approach is vital to understanding what exactly is being asked.
Noting keywords is the next rule. For example, the words "increased by" might indicate addition. Underlining key terms, operations and the question itself make it easier to keep the details of the problem straight. It also helps to list details and insights in the margins. This note-taking strategy also serves as a check on the work once the problem is solved.
Be aware that it matters in which order numbers are subtracted or divided but not in which order they are added or multiplied.
Finally, practice and repetition is one the surest ways to master any kind of mathematics, so practice a variety of algebra word problems diligently.