WilsonPatel wrote:
First, is it best practice to solve/break down the variable before the constant or the other way around? Second, why is it so common to move the variable to the left side of the equation as opposed to the right side. I notice this in almost all tutorial videos but I have not seen one video that explains why variables are almost always moved to the left side. Could someone help me understand this, please?
WilsonPatel - Welcome to the community. In terms of "best practice," there is no set way that you
must use to solve an algebraic equation, other than to observe basic mathematical principles. As to the second question, I suspect that most people just prefer to keep information in a left-to-right format to mimic the way many of them read. It would be interesting to see if someone teaching in Hebrew or Arabic, for example, approached the same problem in left-to-right fashion or switched to right-to-left to mimic their own reading tendencies. For my part, I just move the smaller unknown to the larger one, regardless of which side the larger one may be on. For example, in the equation 2x + 5 = 4x - 8, I would move the 2x to the right-hand side and simultaneously move the 8 over to the 5 (to isolate the variable), so the next step on my note board would be 13 = 2x. My third step would be even sloppier, with no equation at all: 6.5. I have no idea what this method may say about me, other than that I dislike following a strict method of solving mathematical equations. In fact, I am more like a child: I like to jump in and just get my hands dirty.
Good luck with your studies, however you choose to undertake them.
- Andrew (GMAT™ tutor)