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Solving One-Step Equations

A one-step equation is as straightforward as it sounds. You will only need to perform one step in order to solve the equation. One goal in solving an equation is to have only variables on one side of the equal sign and numbers on the other side of the equal sign. The other goal is to have the number in front of the variable equal to one. The strategy for getting the variable by itself with a coefficient of 1 involves using opposite operations. For example, to move something that is added to the other side of the equation, you should subtract. The most important thing to remember in solving a linear equation is that whatever you do to one side of the equation, you MUST do to the other side. So if you subtract a number from one side, you MUST subtract the same value from the other side. You will see how this works in the examples. Well begin solving equations with those that only require one-step. Once you work through the examples, you may want to link to other lessons that require more steps. Let's Practice: i. Solve

Remember the goal is to have the variable by itself on one side of the equation. In this problem, that means moving the 5 to the other side of the equation. Since the 5 is added to the variable, we move it to the other side of the equation by subtracting 5. However, if we subtract 5 from the left side of the equation, we MUST also subtract 5 from the right side.

ii.

Solve

It does not matter that the variable in this equation is on the right side of the equation. The position of the variable is not an issue. Remember that the goal is to have the variable on oneside by itself. It does not matter which side. To get the variable by itself, we need to add 3 to both sides.

iii.

Solve

The variable in this equation is already on one side of the equation by itself. There is no need to add or subtract anything to both sides. However, the number in front of the variable is not 1. The -3 that is in front of the variable indicates multiplication of -3 by x. The opposite operationof multiplication is division. So we will divide both sides by -3.

You should take note of the different ways of writing the answer. In the example, we

divided by -3, yet wrote the answer with the negative in front of the entire fraction, not just the 3. Each of the following fractions all mean the same thing.

iv.

Solve

The variable in this equation is already on one side by itself, but it is divided by 3. To get rid of the 3 that is attached to the variable by division, we will perform the opposite operation which is multiplication. Notice that our variable can be any letter. It does not always have to be x.

v.

Solve

Once again, the variable is on one side by itself, but is multiplied by a -3 and divided by 5. Lets take care of each operation separately and see what happens. First well get rid of the 5 by multiplying both sides by 5. Then well get rid of the -3 by dividing both sides by -3.

Rather than perform two separate steps of multiplying by 5 and then dividing by -3, it is possible to combine those operations into one step. In other words, we can multiply both sides by . The value is called the reciprocal of . The reciprocal of a number has the same sign, but the numerator and denominator are reversed. So what was on bottom, is now on top. And what was on top, is now on bottom. If we re-work Example 5 by using the reciprocal, you can see that it will save a step in thesolution process.

Solving Multi-Step Equations


In multi-step equations, you will need to make use of the techniques used in solving one-step and two-stepequations. You may want to review those topics before beginning the examples in this lesson. Just as with solving one-step or two-step or any equation, one goal in solving an equation is to have only variables on one side of the equal sign and numbers on the other side of the equal sign. The other goal is to have the number in front of the variable equal to one. Keep in mind that the variable does not always have to be x. These equations can make use of any letter as a variable. The strategy for getting the variable by itself with a coefficient of 1 involves using opposite operations. For example, to move something that is added to the other side of the equation, you should subtract. The most important thing to remember in solving a linear equation is that whatever you do to one side of the equation, you MUST do to the other side. So if you subtract a number from one side, you MUST subtract the same value from the other side. You will see how this works in the examples. i. Solve

This problem is typical of what you can expect to see in a multi-step equation. This equation has a variable on both sides of the equal sign. We must first put the variables on the same side. Lets move the 2x from the right side to the left side by subtracting 2x from both sides.

Now that we have isolated the variable on the left side of the equation, we can go about solving the new equation using techniques of solving one and two step equations.

ii.

Solve

We must first make sure we have the variable only on one side. It does not matter which side we choose. Some people prefer to always move the variable to the left side while others try to make sure they dont have a negative coefficient. There is no always correct method. The most important thing is to know how to get the variable only on one side.

iii.

Solve

Before we begin to use any of our equation solving skills, we must first simplify the equation by using the distributive property and eliminating the parentheses.

Now we simplify by combining like terms.

At this point, we can use our equation solving skills to find the solution to the equation.

Be very careful with the last example. It is very easy to make an error with the signs either when working with the -3z terms or when dividing by -6. Be careful not to make arithmetic mistakes that can cause an error with the sign of your answer. Examples Solve Solve Solve Solve Solve