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# Algebra: GED Test Prep

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Updated on Mar 9, 2011

When you take the GED Mathematics Exam, you will be asked to solve problems using basic algebra. This article will help you master algebraic equations by familiarizing you with polynomials, the FOIL method, factoring, quadratic equations, inequalities, and exponents.

### What Is Algebra?

Algebra is an organized system of rules that help solve problems for "unknowns."This organized system of rules is similar to rules for a board game. Like any game, to be successful at algebra, you must learn the appropriate terms of play. As you work through the following section, be sure to pay special attention to any new words you cmay encounter. Once you understand what is being asked of you, it will be much easier to grasp algebraic concepts.

### Equations

An equation is solved by finding a number that is equal to an unknown variable.

### Simple Rules for Working with Equations

1. The equal sign separates an equation into two sides.
2. Whenever an operation is performed on one side, the same operation must be performed on the other side.
3. Your first goal is to get all of the variables on one side and all of the numbers on the other side.
4. The final step often will be to divide each side by the coefficient, the number in front of the variable, leaving the variable alone and equal to a number.

Example

5m + 8 = 48

–8 = –8

m = 8

### Checking Equations

To check an equation, substitute the number equal to the variable in the original equation.

Example

To check the equation you just solved, substitute the number 8 for the variable m.

5m + 8 = 48

5(8) + 8 = 48

40 + 8 = 48

48 = 48

Because this statement is true, you know the answer m = 8 must be correct.

### Cross Multiplying

To learn how to work with percentages or proportions, it is first necessary for you to learn how to cross multiply. You can solve an equation that sets one fraction equal to another by cross multiplication. Cross multiplication involves setting the products of opposite pairs of terms equal.

Example