Common Algebra mistakes you must stay away from

Algebra is a tricky subject. Many a times, even a lot of practice can’t save you from making some silly mistakes.

But how do even strong students end up falling in these common traps? One of the reason is  being too quick to answer the question without getting into details. Students, generally hurry while solving Algebra problems and this opens the door to multiple silly mistakes which in turn affect their overall score.

In order to stay away from these mistakes, it’s important to focus on the basics and double check the problem and answer. If a student is successful in avoiding these silly mistakes, nothing can stop him/her to stay ahead in the learning curve.

While there are many silly mistakes one can encounter while solving Algebra, here are the most common ones mentioned by Etutorworld:

Adding Different Terms Together:

This is perhaps the most common problem in algebra. While solving problems, students tend to miss out on the fact that letters and numbers are two different entities. When students come across equations like “5a + 10” they add them both without considering much. The resulting answer for them is 15a.

But that is absolutely wrong. Both of these are different terms and cannot be added. 5a cannot be added with just 10!

This process works out if the equation consists similar terms such as 67a+9a. These are similar  terms as both have the letter “a” in it.

But when it comes to the 5a + 10 equation, it cannot be simplified any further and thus must be left as it is.

The best way to solve an algebraic equation is by arranging all the similar terms together followed by the numbers mentioned in a question and then do the calculation.

5a + 10 + 12 + 7a

5a + 7a + 10 + 12

12a + 22 would be the final answer here.

Missing Out Brackets:

The next most common mistake while doing Algebra is the failure to solve the brackets in the right order. This changes the entire equation and the possible answer. Let’s consider an example:

“a + 2 x 3” vs “(a + 2) x 3”.

Both of the equations look same, right? Although it’s not. Both of them will be solved differently and answers would be different as well.

According to the rule of BODMAS multiplication comes before sum operations. So, for the first equation, one has to multiply the numbers first.

However, for the second equation one has to solve the bracket area first since that comes before all operations as per BODMAS. Thus while reading the question, it’s crucial to be aware of the brackets and how they are arranged.

Missing out Fractions:

For example, if the first number is b and the second number is 3, find out the mean of the two?” In order to solve this problem, many students would write b+3/2, agreed?

Unfortunately, this is wrong.

In reality, the final answer must be (b + 3)/2. In order to find out mean, you need to add the numbers first and then division process takes place.

While some may be an expert in Algebra, others may not be so strong. For such students, a little additional help is required. For this purpose, algebra tutoring can be considered. Many a time, one-to-one teaching works wonders as it addresses the student’s problem at the grassroot level. If the concepts are made clear, the rest is achievable.

Algebra is a fun subject provided you are doing it properly. It’s true that it requires a lot of patience and caution to details but once your basics are solid, you are good to go.

Think of it as a mystery you are trying to solve. Keep your alert sharp and focus straight. The rest will fall in place.

Author: Robin Gupta