Algebra can be confusing with its interplay of alphabets and numbers and surely bring your grades down if you don’t understand it well. We have narrowed down some of the most common mistakes here and brought them to you in order to help you perform better. Read on to learn some of the elementary mistakes students are known to make in algebra tests.
#1: The age old sign change problem
This is quite common and almost everyone has done it at least once in their lifetime. Negative signs are confusing; they are there in your problems simply to add extra confusion and trick you! They simply couldn’t be easier were you to handle it with a little bit of care. Try and minimize the negative signs found in the equation, either multiply by (-1) throughout and this will make your job easier. Now, of course you know to do this but what happens in most cases is that some students forget to change the sign of one element or two in the equation. Here’s a simple trick which you probably already know that most online math tutors swear by: simply change the sign of every element in the equation and start from the right or left side and go straight down or up the line and be consistent with what you do (meaning do the sign change for every element).
#2: Why add and subtract when you can simply move them around?
This is yet another common and unnecessary step which is albeit the correct thing to do. If you have an equation that has a -20 on side and say a +15 on one side, students typically add +20 on both the sides and though this is right, why not simply move the -20 to the other side of the equation which will make it +15+20 on the right which equals 35? Eliminating unnecessary steps will help you avoid mistakes and this is something most tutors insist upon when students seek math homework help online. And this is a very good thing to remember and practice for it will help you reduce errors.
#3: Instead of multiplying or dividing a number on both sides, simply cross multiply!
When you have say (a/b) = (c/d), the equation simply boils down to ad = bc and to get at this, you would typically multiply b on both the sides and then proceed with multiplying d on both the sides. As it happens, this is the right procedure but then more the number of steps, more the likelihood that you make a mistake somewhere. Cross multiplying is effortless and easy and eliminates the likelihood of making mistakes and this is why we recommend that you try this out.
#4: Working with word problems made easy
The fundamental problem with algebra is of course the fact that it begins combining alphabets and numbers and brings exponents and what not into the picture! Word problems are trickier for you need to translate them into algebraic equations and then work them out. We suggest that you look out for terms such as factored by, increased by, adds up to, etc. that indicate what exactly is happening with the numbers and then write them down. Also, don’t stop once your math part is over; reread the question and see if you’ve actually answered what has been asked and then move on to the next.
We believe that following these tips will help you reduce the number of mistakes when it comes to algebra problem solving and thus help you score better. We have more tips to give out in the same department, watch this space for more algebra tips.