Keep an Algebra Equation Balanced When Multiplying and Dividing

By Angie Papple Johnston

When you run into multiplication and division equations on the ASVAB, remember to keep things balanced. This means you can perform any calculation on either side of an algebra equation as long as you do it to both sides of the equation.

In multiplication and division, if the two terms being operated on (on either side of the equal sign) are both positive numbers or both negative numbers, the answer will be a positive number. If one number is negative and the other is positive, the answer will be negative.

To solve the problem –6x = 36 (don’t forget, 6x is the same thing as 6 times x), you need to isolate x. So perform an inverse operation; the inverse operation of multiplication is division. Division in algebra is usually represented with a fraction bar:


The answer is a negative number because the two terms, 36 and –6, have different signs.