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Common Mistakes in Algebra Assignments and How to Avoid Them

May 31, 2023
Dr. Emma Calra
Dr. Emma Calra
United States
algebra, calculus, number theory, and mathematical modeling.
Arizona University graduate with a Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. in Algebra. 7 years of experience Specializes in providing algebra assignment help.

A fundamental area of mathematics called algebra serves as the basis for more complex mathematical ideas. It's critical to be aware of the typical errors that occur and how to avoid them, whether you're a student struggling with algebra assignments or a teacher guiding students through the subject. In this blog post, we'll talk about the most typical errors students make when completing algebra assignments and offer advice on how to avoid them. You can improve your comprehension and performance in algebra by being aware of these mistakes and using the recommended strategies. in this blog, we can learn more about the mistakes to avoid to complete your algebra assignment.

Mistakes in Setting up Equations

Setting up equations correctly is one of the main areas where students struggle when completing algebra assignments. Let's examine three common errors in this area and how to prevent them.

Common Mistakes in Algebra Assignments and How to Avoid Them

Misunderstanding Word Problems

Because word problems require converting real-world situations into algebraic expressions or equations, they can be difficult. The following errors are frequently made by students when solving word problems:

  1. Misinterpreting Information:  Students frequently leave out crucial information or incorrectly interpret the problem statement, resulting in incorrect equations. To prevent this, carefully read the problem several times, highlight important details, and note the variables and relationships at play.
  2. Incorrect Equation Formulation: Students may find it difficult to correctly translate verbal expressions into algebraic equations. The problem must be divided into manageable steps, unknown quantities must be given a variable, and equations must be built based on the relationships provided. To hone this skill, practice resolving various word puzzles.
  3. Skipping the Check: After solving an equation, it's important to confirm the validity of the solution by reviewing it in light of the entire problem. This step is frequently skipped by students, which leads to incorrect solutions. Always go back to the original question to make sure your solution meets the requirements.

Overlooking the Order of Operations

Algebraic expressions must be evaluated in the proper order, which is frequently remembered by the acronym PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division from Left to right, and Addition and Subtraction from left to right). Here are some errors that students make in this area all the time:

  1. Neglecting Parentheses: Before performing other operations, students frequently forget to distribute or simplify expressions enclosed in parentheses. The innermost expressions enclosed in parentheses should always be simplified first.
  2. Ignoring Exponents: Exponents have the power to significantly change a term's value, and doing so can produce inaccurate results. Prior to performing any other operations, carefully consider the exponent when raising numbers or variables to a power.

Applying Incorrect Rules and Formulas

Students must correctly apply a variety of rules, formulas, and properties in algebra. These are three typical errors in this area:

  1. Misapplying the Distributive Property: Although the distributive property is a fundamental algebraic concept, students frequently have trouble applying it. They might erroneously assign a term to a single factor or improperly combine similar terms. Don't forget to distribute the terms inside the parentheses to one another.
  2. Inaccurate Use of Exponential Rules: The manipulation of exponential expressions is governed by exponential rules, such as the product rule and power rule. Students may misapply these guidelines, which could result in incorrect evaluation or simplification. To prevent mistakes, go over and practice these guidelines.
  3. Forgetting Negative Signs: Negative signs are frequently used in algebraic expressions, but students frequently fail to properly distribute or apply the negative sign. Particularly when distributing a negative coefficient, pay close attention to where negative signs are placed.

Errors in Solving Equations

Equation solving is another frequent area in which students err when completing algebra assignments. Let's examine two frequent mistakes in this situation and talk about how to avoid them:

Incorrect Manipulation of Equations

  1. Neglecting to Perform the Same Operation on Both Sides:  In order to maintain balance when solving equations, students must complete the same operation on both sides. They frequently fail to factor in both sides of the equation when applying operations (like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division), which leads to an incorrect answer. Always keep in mind to balance the equation by performing the same operation on both sides.
  2. Misidentifying Extraneous Solutions: Students occasionally come across extraneous solutions, which are values that satisfy the derived equation but not the original problem. This frequently happens when operations are carried out that introduce new solutions, such as when both sides of an equation are squared. To prevent this, test the obtained solutions by re-entering them into the original equation, and toss any that do not.

Graphing Errors

When working with linear equations and quadratic functions, graphing is a crucial algebraic skill. Here are three errors that students frequently make when graphing, along with advice on how to avoid them:

Incorrect Plotting of Points

  1. Misreading Coordinates: Students might interpret or misread the given coordinates, which would cause them to plot points in the incorrect places. Before plotting, carefully determine the x and y values for each point and verify their accuracy to prevent this.
  2. Improper Scaling: When making a graph, it's important to choose the right scales for the x and y axes. Students may space the intervals incorrectly, resulting in distorted or false graphs. Spend some time selecting intervals that accurately reflect the data.
  3. Inaccurate Graphing of Linear Equations: Students occasionally connect the points in linear equations incorrectly, which leads to an inaccurate depiction of the line. Before connecting two points with a straight line, always plot at least two points to confirm the line's slope and direction.

Mistakes in Factoring and Simplification

Algebraic manipulation greatly benefits from factoring and simplification. Let's talk about two common errors students make here and how to correct them:

Errors in Factoring

  1. Mistaking the Difference of Squares: Students frequently confuse the sum of squares or other polynomial forms with the difference of squares formula, a² - b² = (a + b)(a - b). To prevent mistakes, carefully spot the pattern and use the right factorization formula.
  2. Misapplying the Quadratic Formula: A quadratic formula is a useful tool for solving quadratic equations, but students may misuse it by substituting values incorrectly or by making arithmetic errors. Make sure the values you enter into the formula are accurate and double-check your math calculations.

Incomplete or Incorrect Simplification

It's possible for students to under simplify algebraic expressions or to erroneously simplify them. Here's how to prevent them:

  1. Skipping Common Factors: By skipping over common factors that can be eliminated, students may produce an incomplete simplification. Always search for and eliminate any common factors in the numerator and denominator.
  2. Combining Like Terms Incorrectly: When combining like terms, students may incorrectly apply the addition- or subtraction rules, which can result in mistakes in the final simplified expression. To ensure accurate simplification, pay attention to the signs and coefficients of the terms being combined.


Assignments in algebra can be difficult, but by being aware of the usual errors and putting the above-discussed strategies into practice, you can enhance your performance and comprehension of the material. Recall to approach word problems methodically, follow the correct order of operations, correctly apply rules and formulas, solve equations step-by-step, correctly graph, and carefully factor and simplify expressions. You can stay away from these common errors and perform well on your algebra assignments by consistently practicing and paying attention to detail.

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