Solving an equation can be confusing - but never fear! We're here to help.

Let's say you have an equation like this:

$3x+10 = 16$

First thing we should notice is this equation mostly just has numbers, but we do have a value $x$ in there. This $x$ just represents another number, and our task is to figure out what it is.

So

solving

this equation means making it look like this:

$x =$

where we can easily tell what number $x$ represents. It's like a magic trick, but we have the tools to make it happen 🥳.

We need to get $x$ by itself on the left side of the equals sign. To start, what could we put in the blank below to get rid of that 10?

Now...you'll notice we've left the right side of the equals sign blank. That's because the equals sign is like a balance - whatever you do to one side, you have to do the other.

So...imagine a balance or see-saw in your head.

Kind of like this one ⬇️

We have everything from the left side of the equation on the left side and everything from the right side of the equation on the right side. Everything in balance.

Balanced!

=

3x

+ 10

+ 16

+8

+8

+4

+4

-10

-10

+0

+0

Try moving some of these ⬆️ onto each side and see what happens.

Good! So now, if we look back - we subtracted 10 on the left, so what do we need to do on the right side?

And that's it! That's how to solve an equation. Just remember:

Tip #1

When trying to get a variable like $x$ by itself, always start by removing numbers that are added or subtracted first. Once those are all gone, that's when you can start handling multiplication or division.

Tip #2

Whatever you do to one side of the equation, you have to do the other. It's just like a see-saw - add too much to one side without adding to the other, and it will fall out of balance.

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