Algebra is great fun – you get to solve puzzles!
What is the missing number?
OK, the answer is 6, right? Because 6 – 2 = 4. Easy stuff.
Well, in Algebra we don’t use blank boxes, we use a letter (usually an x or y, but any letter is fine). So we would write:
And when you solve it you write:
Why Use a Letter?
|it is easier to write “x” than drawing empty boxes (and easier to say “x” than “the empty box”).|
|if there were several empty boxes (several “unknowns”) we can use a different letter for each one.|
it doesn’t have to be x, it could be y or w … or any letter or symbol you like.
How to Solve
Algebra is just like a puzzle where you start with something like
“x-2 = 4” and you want to end up with something like “x = 6”.
But instead of saying “obviously x=6”, use this neat step-by-step approach:
- Work out what to remove to get “x = …”
- Remove it by doing the opposite (adding is the opposite of subtracting)
- Do that to both sides
Here is an example:
We want to remove the “-2“
To remove it, do the opposite, in this case add 2 to both sides:
Which is …
Just remember this:
|What you do to one side of the “=” you should also do to the other side!|
Solve this one: x + 5 = 12
||x + 5 = 12|
||x+5 -5 = 12 -5|
||x+0 = 7|
||x = 7|
Have a Try Yourself
Now practice on this Simple Algebra Worksheet and then check your answers from the choices.
Try to use the steps we have shown you here, rather than just guessing!