How to solve simple algebraic equations

Home learning focus

In this lesson you will learn how to solve algebraic equations.

This lesson includes:

  • one video
  • three activities


An equation is a mathematical expression that contains an equals symbol. Algebra is used in Maths when we do not know the exact number in a calculation - this unknown value can be replaced with a letter.

Let's take a look at a question.

3 loaves of bread and a £4 pack of cheese costs £10. How can you work out the cost of 1 loaf of bread?

Watch this short video from BBC Bitesize to find out how to solve simple algebraic equations.

Find out how to solve simple algebraic equations with one unknown


An operation is a mathematical process. Common examples are addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (x) or division (÷).

An inverse operation is the opposite of the operation used in the equation.

+ is the opposite of

is the opposite of +

× is the opposite of ÷

÷ is the opposite of ×

Solving an equation

When solving an equation it is important to find the value of one letter.

Let's solve the equation 3x + 4 = 10

To remove the + 4 complete the inverse (opposite) operation by subtracting the 4.

3x = 10 – 4

That gives us 3x = 6 (3 loaves cost £6)

To work out the cost of one loaf, divide both sides of the equation by 3.

x = 6 ÷ 3

So x = 2

One loaf costs £2


Activity 1

Solve the equation

A whiteboard with a maths problem written on it

Click here to see a step-by-step slideshow.

1 of 7

Activity 2


Find out how much you know about how to solve a simple algebraic equation in this short quiz!

Activity 2

Worksheet: Solving equations

Complete this worksheet from Sparx about solving equations.

Solving equations

Click here for answers.

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