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How Do You Solve Algebra Problems?

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Quick Answer

To solve an algebra problem, identify the variable for which you are solving, isolate the terms containing that variable, and then solve the equation by isolating the variable itself. Check your work by plugging your answer in place of the variable in the original equation and making sure it works.

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Full Answer

1. Identify the variable

Figure out the variable for which you are solving. For example, in the equation, 3x+4=13, the variable, is x, as it is the only figure in the equation that doesn't have a defined numerical value.

2. Isolate the terms containing the variable

Manipulate the equation so that the terms containing the variable stand alone on one side of the equation. Going back to the same equation, 3x+4=13, isolate 3x, because that is where the variable is contained. To do so, subtract 4 from both sides of the equation. The result is 3x=13-4, which means that 3x=9.

3. Solve the equation by isolating the variable

Now that the terms containing the variable are isolated, take the final step and isolate the variable itself. To isolate x in the equation that you've simplified to 3x=9, divide both sides of the equation by 3. The result is x=9/3, which means that x=3.

4. Check your work

Ensure that you've solved the equation correctly by plugging your answer into the original equation. For 3x+4=13, substitute 3 in place of x to get 3(3)+4=13. The equation makes sense, which means your work was correct.

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