Help with Math Equations: Using Letters in Math?

Getting help with math equations is essential especially as the math gets more difficult. How many times has a math teacher, tutor or parent been asked “Why are we using letters in math?” This is a very confusing concept to students. Many adults will tell you that they do not like math. If a student can be successful at math they will have the background to choose most of the highest paying careers.

Many students do not like math. Yet all students are required to take math in school. Math programs at school tend to cover a topic for one day and move on. These topics usually build upon each other for the next lesson. When students are briefly covering a topic in one class period it may be difficult to develop a deep understanding for math. Even when the student understands how to solve a problem they often do not know the reason for doing it. These are times when it is essential to get help with math equations.

There are some rules that students must follow in solving algebraic equations with one variable. The first rule is to see if you can combine any like terms. This is done by looking at each side of the equation. We must remember that we can only combine numbers with numbers and letters with letters. The letters can also be referred to as variables.

I like to teach my students to think of the numbers or variables as something they possess. For example, let us say they are computing 12-15. I teach them to think that they have $12 and they owe me $15. This helps them with the concepts of negative positive numbers. Likewise, we say that they have possession of 6 x’s and they owe me 13 x’s. This helps them to combine variables as well.

The second step will be to get the variables on one side and the numbers on the other side of the equation. This will be done by taking the opposite operation of the variable on both sides of the equation.

For instance, if we have 4x+2=10x-5. We will subtract 4x from each side of the equation. We subtract because 4x is a positive term and we must do the opposite which is negative and subtract. We will end up with 4x-4x+2=10x-4x-5. The 4x-4x gives us zero and leaves us with 2 on the left side of the equation. The right side has 10x-4x to combine and results in 6x. This leaves the right side as follows, 6x-5. Our equation now appears as 2=6x-5.

We will do the same step to the -5 on the right side of the equation. The opposite of a -5 will be +5 and we will add this to each side of the equation. Hence, we will have 2-5=6x-5+5 as our equation. We then perform our operations and proceed with -3=6x.

The final step is to get the variable or the letter by itself. In this problem we will look at the number that is next to the x. What we have is a 6. This means that 6 is multiplied x.

So to achieve our goal of x by itself we must perform the opposite operation. The opposite of multiplication is division. Therefore, we will divide each side of the equation by 6. This will give us an answer where -3/6=x. We can reduce this fraction to-1/2=x.

These are the steps that will allow you to solve an equation with one variable. Getting help with math equations is important toward building your understanding of math. Most importantly, students do not doubt yourselves. You are capable of achieving your dreams when you put your mind to it.


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