Algebra is a branch of mathematics that students first encounter in 8th grade or 9th grade, and application of the skills learned in this course will persist throughout high school, into college, and beyond. Algebra involves replacing numbers with letters which is one reason why students may find this subject confusing. Advanced Algebra also includes complex topics like imaginary numbers, matrices, and vectors which only further amplifies the stress algebra puts on a lot of students.
Below we will provide a few algebra study tips to improve skills and solve problems effectively.
How to Study Algebra Effectively
Algebra problems can oftentimes be solved in a multitude of ways as long as you use the tricks you have compiled in your academic arsenal.
Here are a couple easy algebra tips for beginners that will make solving an algebra problem easier.
Change the Signs: Negative numbers in a problem can be daunting. Luckily, there is a way around them! To change a number’s sign from negative to positive, simply multiply the entire problem by -1. This may make the problem much easier to read and solve!
Mind the Parentheses: If a problem has parentheses in it, make sure you do the math inside the parentheses first! This is important because ignoring the parentheses can completely change your answer. Parentheses tell you what to pay attention to first and what you should distribute. An example of this is (3+5)2. First, you must add x to y, and then you can square your answer. So, the result should be (8)2 which is 64.
Combine Like Terms: “Like Terms” are what we call terms with the same variable part (ex. 4x and 3x). When there are like terms in a problem, you can combine them to make a single term (ex 3x + 4x = 7x).
How to Remember Algebra Formulas
Remembering which formulas to use for a particular problem can be difficult, but once learned, this is a great asset to the student.
To study algebra effectively, you must resist the temptation to get overwhelmed and instead, adopt a methodical approach and positive mindset. After that, you can do one or more of the following to help with retention of concepts and skills:
Write it Down: One way to help you memorize formulas is to continually write them down multiple times. This helps you get visual and muscle memory of writing down the formula. Flashcards are also an excellent way to help memorize formulas!
Stick them to your wall: Take all the formulas you have written down and stick them somewhere you will see them multiple times a day. Through that visual repetition, your brain will become accustomed to seeing and recognizing the formulas.
Change the Numbers or Variables: While going through a homework assignment or test review, try doing the problem with different variables. For example, try whole numbers, fractions, and decimals in the problem. Try positive numbers and negative numbers. That way, when the problem shows up on the test, you have already seen and done multiple versions of the problem.
Recall Before Bed: Our brains tend to remember the thoughts we have had during the day right before we fall asleep. It is best to take advantage of this and practice some math problems right before bed, and not just the night before the test. Do it multiple nights in a row and your brain is sure to remember the formulas!
This is how to study algebra effectively. Through practice and memorization tactics, you can approach Algebra with more confidence! Start using these math tips for algebra and see if it helps improve your skills!