Solving Multi-Step Equations with One Variable

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10829

X marks the spot! That may help pirates with treasure maps, but how does that help with algebra? Take the simple steps needed to solve multi-step equations that reveal the identity of Mr. Variable!


Expressions and Equations, Pre-Algebra

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Why learn algebra? Finding "X" is only useful if you are a pirate!

Arrr me mateys, that is not correct!

Algebra is useful for many real-life applications; for example: engineering a roller coaster, figuring out if you have enough money to make a purchase at a store, and finding the distance to your favorite locations.

Check out this Solving Real-World Problems Using Multi-Step Equation: An Application (Algebra I) video, by CK-12 Foundation, to see how it might be used in your life:

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Now, it's your turn to think of ways that you use algebra in your daily life. Share your ideas with someone.

In this lesson, you will specifically review how to solve multi-step algebra equations.

In any algebraic equation, you need to solve for X (the variable). In a single-step algebraic equation, it is fairly simple to isolate the variable — all you need to do is the inverse operation to the constant. See below:

To isolate X you need to do the inverse of +4, which is -4:

X + 4 = 32
-4 = 32 -4
X = 28

In a multi-step equation, it just means there is more than one step to isolate and solve for X.
Here is an example of a multi-step equation:

2x + 10 = 34
2x - 10 = 34 - 10 (STEP 1: Subtract 10 from each side)
2x = 24
2x ÷ 2 = 24 ÷ 2 (STEP 2: Divide each side by 2)
X = 12

Here is another great explanation on Algebra Basics: Solving 2-Step Equations - Math Antics:

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It might also be helpful to you to watch Math Bhambri's Solving Multi Step Equations using Algebra Tiles (Part 1):

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For a reference on Inverse Operations, see the chart below:


Continue on to the Got It? section to try a few problems on your own!

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