Mastering algebra is important for moving on to nearly all other types of math in middle school and high school. Every level of math is built upon the basics, so every level math is extremely important. However, even the most basic algebra skills can be tricky for beginners to understand the first time they encounter them. If you’re struggling with fundamental algebra topics, don’t worry — with a little extra explanation, some easy examples, and some tips for improving your skills, you’ll soon be solving algebra problems like a pro.
- Review your basic math operations. To start learning algebra, you’ll need to know basic math skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. This primary/elementary school math is essential before you start learning algebra. If you don’t have these skills mastered, it will be tricky to tackle the more complex concepts taught in algebra.
- You don’t necessarily need to be great at doing these basic operations in your head to do algebra problems. Many algebra classes will allow you to use a calculator to save time when doing these simple operations. You should, however, at least know how to do these operations without a calculator for when you aren’t allowed to use one.
- Know the order of operations. One of the trickiest things about solving an algebra equation as a beginner is knowing where to start. Luckily, there’s a specific order for solving these problems: first do any math operations in parentheses, then do exponents, then multiply, then divide, then add, and finally subtract. A handy tool for remembering this order of operations is the acronym PEMDAS. To recap, the order of operations is:
- The order of operations is important in algebra because doing the operations in an algebra problem in the wrong order can sometimes affect the answer. For instance, if we’re dealing with the math problem 8 + 2 × 5, if we add 2 to 8 first, we get 10 × 5 = 50, but if we multiply 2 and 5 first, we get 8 + 10 = 18. Only the second answer is correct.
- Know how to use negative numbers. In algebra, it’s common to use negative numbers, so it’s smart to review how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide negatives before starting to learn algebra. Below are just a few negative number basics to keep in mind — for more information, see our articles on adding and subtracting negative numbers and dividing and multiplying negative numbers.
- On a number line, a negative version of a number is the same distance from zero as the positive, but in the opposite direction.
- Adding two negative numbers together makes the number more negative (in other words, the digits will be higher, but since the number is negative, it counts as being lower)
- Two negative signs cancel out — subtracting a negative number is the same as adding a positive number
- Multiplying or dividing two negative numbers gives a positive answer.
- Multiplying or dividing a positive number and a negative number gives a negative answer.
- Know how to keep long problems organized. While simple algebra problems can be a snap to solve, more complicated problems can take many, many steps. To avoid errors, keep your work organized by starting a new line every time you make a step toward solving your problem. If you’re dealing with a two-sided equation, try to write all the equals signs (“=”s) underneath each other. This way, if you make a mistake somewhere, it’ll be much easier to find and correct.
- For example, to solve the equation 9/3 – 5 + 3 × 4, we might keep our problem organized like this:
9/3 – 5 + 3 × 4
9/3 – 5 + 12
3 – 5 + 12
3 + 7
Source from: www.wikihow.com