What Are the Four Steps for Solving an Equation?


The four steps for solving an equation include the combination of like terms, the isolation of terms containing variables, the isolation of the variable and the substitution of the answer into the original equation to check the answer. The combination of like terms can also be referred to as simplifying. While this is not necessary as a first step, it is much easier to solve an equation when the terms are as simple as possible.

A person should combine terms on either side of the equation before trying to solve. For example, if the equation is 2x + 4x = 24x, 2x and 4x should be added together before going any further. This makes the equation 6x = 24x. Isolating terms that contain variables involves getting the variable to one side of the equation. If the equation reads 2 + y = 46, y must stand alone on one side. The 2 must be subtracted from both sides so that the equation reads y = 44.

In some instances, the variable must be isolated, 6 = x/3 for example. Here, x/3 needs to be multiplied by 3 to get x by itself. Lastly, the answer should be plugged into the original equation to fact check. If 44 is put into 2 + y = 46, it would read 2 + 44 = 46, which is correct.