How to Solve One-Step Algebra Equations in Word Problems

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  • 0:03 One-Step Algebra Equations
  • 0:23 A Word Problem
  • 0:47 Translating the Word Problem
  • 3:20 Solving the Word Problem
  • 3:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Word problems may be considered the most evil math invention ever, but never fear! Just watch this video lesson and you will know how to methodically translate these word problems into simple math and then to solve it.

One-Step Algebra Equations

One-step algebra equations are actually very nice to work with. Why is this? These are equations that only require one operation to solve. Your one step will be addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. You only need to do one of these operations. They are quick and easy!

A Word Problem

In math, sometimes, you will see our one-step algebra equations in the form of word problems, equations written out in English instead of math. I know word problems are considered monsters, and students fear these, but they really are not that bad to work with. The key lies in translating the word problem using the correct math symbols and writing our math symbols in the right order.

Translating the Word Problem

Let's look at an example to see how translating a word problem into math symbols works.

Our problem says, 'Solve four less than a number equals eight.'

We begin by highlighting our important words. We look for words that show our numbers and also words that show operations. As you read, think about what the words and phrases mean, and if they can be translated into math symbols. In our problem, we have the words four, less than, a number, equals, and eight. I go ahead and highlight all these words and phrases. I can also write the math symbols for these words next to their highlights. I know what four and eight are without thinking. So I write 4 and 8 next to those words. The phrase 'less than' translates into subtraction because for something to be less than something, it needs to be subtracted. So I write a minus sign next to that word. Now I need a math symbol for the phrase 'a number.' What is a number? I don't know what that number is, so that tells me that this is the part that the problem is asking me to solve. So I use the most famous algebra variable of x to represent this number that I need to solve for. Lastly, for the word equals, I am going to write down the equals symbol.

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