Basic Math and Pre-Algebra All-in-One For Dummies
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An algebraic equation is an equation with at least one variable. Apply operations equally to both sides to modify an equation. For example, you can add 2 to both sides, subtract x from both sides or multiply both sides by 2. To solve an algebraic equation, apply operations that isolate x on one side of the equation and put a number on the other side. Here are the standard steps for a problem such as 10x – 6 = 7x + 9:

  1. Add or subtract to move all the constants to one side of the equation.

    If you add 6 to both sides, the –6 cancels out on the left: 10x = 7x + 15.

  2. Add or subtract to move all the variables to the other side.

    If you subtract 7x from both sides, the 7x cancels out on the right: 3x = 15.

  3. Divide both sides by the coefficient (the number next to the variable) to isolate x.

    Dividing both sides by 3 gives you the answer x = 5.

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Mark Zegarelli is a math and test prep tutor and instructor. He is the author of Basic Math & Pre-Algebra For Dummies, SAT Math For Dummies, ACT Math For Dummies, Logic For Dummies, and Calculus II For Dummies.

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