How to Get Better at Algebra: 13 Steps

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Algebra is one of the branches of Mathematics that most students struggle to understand. Owing to the real-world applications, it is a crucial branch for students. The real challenge lies in creating and memorizing the equations that can help you solve the problems, and get the right outcomes. You have multiple variables and in some cases, constants to deal with in your Algebraic expressions. 

The questions that help you solve Algebra involve:

  • What is x or any variable value within the expression?
  •  Why do you need to use Algebra to arrive at a result?

Like any other branch of Mathematics, you can enhance your knowledge of this subject. Let’s take a look at how to learn Algebra and get better at the subject. 

#1 Clear your Basics

Your foundation should be strong if you want to excel in Algebra. You should have a sound knowledge of Arithmetic, as Algebra is an extension of basic maths. You will be performing a lot of operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If your elementary maths is not very strong or, you have issues remembering the multiplication tables, then it is time to revisit these concepts. It will help you solve Algebra problems with ease. 

#2 Review Every New Concept

Once you have learnt a new concept, you need to review it after coming home. It may not seem important, but with each review, your techniques become clearer. As a result, you can overcome the challenges posed by Algebra. When we say you need to revisit, you should try and solve a few questions on your own. When you review while it is still fresh, you impose it into your memory, which means there is a good chance you will remember in the long run.

#3 The PEMDAS Rule

When solving an Algebraic expression, you tend to make silly mistakes because you don’t remember the sequence of the operations. For instance, which equation within the parenthesis will you solve first? When you answer this question, you get the outcome right, every single time. 

PEMDAS is the basis for operations, and also for solving Algebraic expressions. 

PEMDAS= Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction

If you are not clear how to work around a problem, refer to PEMDAS. Start with the parenthesis. Once it is solved, then move onto the exponents, and follow this sequence. 

4 + (10 ÷ 2 x 4)1 – 3 + 3 

Let’s say this is the expression you need to solve. How would you begin?

As mentioned, you start with the parenthesis. As there are no exponents, you move to division, and then multiplication and so on. 

When you are working on Algebraic equations, you need to follow the same rule. 

#4 Write All The Steps

When you are solving an Algebraic expression, a lot of steps are involved. While it may seem amateurish to write down all the steps, it is always a good idea. There is a good chance that you might want to solve the expression. However, writing every step allows your work to be more organized. It also helps identify the errors you commit, with ease.

When correcting your paper, the instructor would realize where you went wrong. It would be easier to convey the issue when you have mentioned the steps. 

#5 Don’t Avoid Negative Numbers

If you are used to working with positive numbers, then it is time to clear your understanding of negative numbers too. They are an essential part of the Algebraic expression. It is time you get comfortable with these numbers, as you will find them to be a part of all equations. 

Memorize the basic rule for negative numbers like the back of your hand.

  • Two negatives make a positive
  • A positive and a negative make a negative

This will help you solve any expression without batting an eyelid. Along with the multiplication, you also need to remember what outcome you get when you divide a negative with a negative or a positive. 

#6 Focus During Classes

While this sounds elementary and cliché, it is equally important to reiterate this fact. It gives you an insight into what is expected from you. The more you focus on classes, and ask questions, the better results you will get. It will also help you face the challenge posed in the form of Algebra. Ask doubts and clear it at the moment. Don’t wait up to discuss the concept with a friend. Have a doubt, ask immediately. 

#7 Study & Apply 

Cramming hard will not get you anywhere. If anything, cramming will only make you forget everything that you have learnt. Instead, study and apply all the formulas and concepts of Algebra so that you know how it works. 

Instead of memorizing the formula, dive deeper to understand the concept that defines the formula. It will help you remember it for a longer time, and also understand the actual use of the expression. You cannot remember everything at once. So, take it slowly, and keep applying everything you learn.

Keep the study sessions short but, make sure they are focused, and you have understood the story behind every formula. It will allow you to get better with time. Applying every equation or expression to actual examples will help. If you can, then start creating problems that will need these expressions. When you use the reverse mechanism to study, you will learn better. 

#8 Practice to the Core

What makes Algebra less challenging? Practice. The more you practice your sums and get the right answers to the problems, the less tedious and challenging it will seem to you. If you have ten problems around the same concept, solve each one of them. Once you have mastered all these sums, then go to another set of slightly harder yet defining problems. The idea is to create and solve as many problems as possible, around the different concepts. This will help you become a master of the subject. Eventually, you would be able to solve any concept and sum that has been given to you. 

#9 Test your Knowledge

While solving gets you started on the right path, you need to keep testing your knowledge. It will seem like a far cry today, but the more you test your knowledge, the better you will keep getting at the subject.

If you have learnt a few concepts this week, appear for a test in those concepts. Give those mock tests that you believe were difficult. You will realize your level, and would be able to assess your understanding of the concept.

#10 Assess and Evaluate the Results

When you are evaluating the test results, you also need to evaluate the steps as well as the mistakes that you made while working on them. If you do an in-depth analysis of the results, you would realize where you lacked, and what mistakes you made. It will also help you judge your knowledge and let you onto what concepts still need to be worked. 

Once you are clear with the assessment, and evaluation of the test results, it becomes easier to know what your next steps ought to be. 

#11 Organize your Study Habits

When you are more organized with your studies and have a routine that you should follow, it becomes easier to ensure that you get done on time. If you have the afternoons allotted for your lessons, then with the schedule set, you can happily get maximum work done during this period. Along with study habits, you should also ensure that your mind is calm, and you have a dedicated hour for play. Focused study and smartness in the curriculum can help you get better in the subject with time.

#12 Remember the Thumb rule

Never divide any number by zero. That is the thumb-rule that you should always remember, as it helps ensure you get the best outcome. If you don’t understand why we added it to this list, then go back to your elementary grade. When you divide x by y, you are segmenting x into y number of blocks or groups. If you divide something by 0, then how will you define the groups, and what is the answer to this question? There is no possibility in this case, which is why you should never divide anything by 0.

#13 Accept your Results

When you are graded for the algebra solutions, make sure to accept the evaluation. It is alright to get low grades. Your goal should not be to feel low with the results you have achieved; you should always strive hard to achieve more. The idea is to keep practising and scoring better. It is when you accept what you have, that you will want to go further and achieve better.  

Conclusion

Algebra may seem challenging but, with practice and the right attitude, you would be able to nail it. It is crucial to remember the thumb rules, understand the concept behind a formula, and focus on your lessons to improve your understanding. If you keep practising the concepts and work on the different problems, you will ace the game. 

Work with a tutor who knows where you are facing issues, and can offer help. The tutor should be able to help you understand the concepts and define the principles, as well. Book a free consultation with Cuemath tutors for an understanding of the subject, and how we teach our students. 

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