Algebra, Functions, and Patterns
Approximately 20%-30% of the GED Math Test is in the area of Algebra. This includes such things as:
- Understanding the language and symbols of algebra.
- Working with unknowns and variables.
- Evaluating, setting up, and solving equations.
- Using squares and square roots.
- Identifying and applying patterns and relationships.
- Using positive and negative integers.
- Using variables and equations to represent information provided in tables, graphs, and written descriptions.
Algebra is mathematics that uses symbols to stand for unknown quantities. It also provides a way to represent a constant relationship between terms. Just like other types of math, algebra involves solving equations or manipulating expressions that contain symbols - generally variables such as xand y. In fact, a word problem in algebra is like a story problem in basic math.
Just like story problems, algebra problems require that students:
- Identify the information they know and decide what information they need to find.
- Decide which operation or strategy to use.
- Solve the problem.
- Check whether the answer is reasonable and answers the question.
Does this sound like the basic four-step problem-solving approach?
Have students use letters or symbols to create their own equations. Start with simple math problems and substitute a letter or symbol for one of the digits. For example, change the equation 5 + 8 = 13 to 5 + y= 13. Let the students exchange equations and solve them. Compare the similarities between solving math problems and algebra problems. Both require that you solve a problem for an unknown value.