# Basic Algebra Problem Solving

Where do you even begin when you're faced with a statement bursting with addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, exponents, radicals, parentheses, and brackets? It specifies the order in which to perform the operations in an expression or equation.

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Perhaps you need to go back and make sure you understand the problem. If you keep trying, and vary your approach, you will get it. If you’ve ever played a video game or packed a suitcase for a long trip, you know that the order and placement of objects makes a difference in the outcome.

Take a second to step back and look it over with fresh eyes. Some things can be moved around to wherever they are convenient, while others can only go a certain way or they won’t fit.

The word inverse means to turn inside out or upside down—in mathematics an inverse essentially turns a number around on itself.

A typical algebraic equation includes multiple operations.

The arrangement of numbers and variables in algebraic expressions works like that too.

Some situations allow us to switch values and operations around.Others require that numbers can only be handled one way or the process will go wrong.The ability to play with the parts of an equation (or not) are described by mathematical properties.Maybe you broke up the problem without realizing it, and this answer will lead to other answers and eventually to the right answer.Did you get stuck partway through because you didn't have enough information?: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, isn't just a cliché; it's also a good idea.There will be times when the first approach you try doesn't get anywhere. Think about why one technique didn't work—did it give you an answer, but not the one you needed?Perform an operation on a number with an identity, and the result is the original number.The Inverse Property involves addition to get to 0 and multiplication to get to 1.And if we all go through the same sequence of operations when we solve or simplify an equation, we should all end up with the same answer.Algebra problems are easier to understand and to solve when you establish a strategy for working with them. The same properties of real numbers and the order of operations that worked when you only had numbers to think about also apply to equations with variables. Algebra problems have answers, and you can find them.

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