Whether the path to a solution is obvious or not, there's a reliable series of steps that will help take you in the right direction:: Figure out both where you are and where you need to go before you start working.
Look carefully at the problem to be sure you know what the question is. Start thinking about the techniques that could be useful, and the kinds of answers you expect to find.: Use your experience to guide you. Is there anything about the form of an equation or the shape of a graph or the phrasing of a question that seems familiar?
Maybe you don't know how to find all the variables all at once, but you might be able to figure them out one at a time. Sometimes a verbal description or an equation don't really speak to you.
Once you solve the easy parts, those answers can help you get the rest of the way. A quick sketch or a careful graph can sometimes make relationships clear in a way that words or numbers don't.
is a powerful tool for solving problems and gaining knowledge. As you proceed, don't be surprised or discouraged to encounter ideas and situations that confuse you.
After all, the world is big and complicated, so it's going to take more than simple math to figure it out.
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.
The arrangement of numbers and variables in algebraic expressions works like that too.
Some situations allow us to switch values and operations around.