The best way to solve algebra problems is to make each problem as simple as possible by bringing the terms to their lowest possible expression and eliminating excess terms. Following the order of operations is vital to solving the equation correctly.
First, try to combine like terms. Like terms are terms that have the same variable and degree, such as 5x and 3x. Remember that removing coefficients cannot be done without affecting the whole term. For example, the expression 2x - 1 turns to x - 0.5 if it's divided by 2, because the 2 is multiplied by both x and 0.5 to make 2x - 1. As another example, the expression 2x - 4x + 8 simplifies to -2(x + 4) Putting this expression in the equation 2x - 4x + 8 = 3x + 6 and simplifying both sides yields -2x + 8 = 3x + 6.
Simplifying the two equations by adding 2x to both sides gives the shorter equation 8 = 5x + 6. Then, subtracting 6 to isolate the variable leaves 2 = 5x, or x = 0.4. After finding a solution, always plug the solution into the original equation to verify it. In this case, 2(0.4) - 4(0.4) + 8 = 3(0.4) + 6 simplifies to 0.8 - 1.6 + 8 = 1.2 + 6, or 7.2 = 7.2.