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How to be better at getting signs, and letters right in algebra?

  1. Sep 15, 2013 #1
    I got a b in my last math test and the ONLY reason I missed the questions I missed was because of sign errors. I almost missed a few more from almost not catching that I put the wrong letter down as part of an answer. It is ALWAYS why I get a question wrong. Is it something I'm just bad at or can I get better at it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2013 #2
    Something that helps me: even if the problem seems easy and straightforward, work the problem through slowly. Be very meticulous with checking signs and just take your time. I know for me, if something looks very simple, I do it too quickly and make stupid mistakes. Take your time, be very meticulous, and check over all of your work. I.e. make sure your answer makes sense. Also, with algebra, once you get an answer, you can plug it back in and check the answer. If the sign is off, when you plug it back in to check, the answer will be wrong.
  4. Sep 15, 2013 #3


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    PRACTICE! Study the same material a second or third time. PRACTICE MORE.

    What you are experiencing is normal. When you later improve, you may still find that you make the same type of mistakes. Some of this can be improved if you just read a little more carefully. Rechecking your work is also useful for catching some mistakes.
  5. Sep 16, 2013 #4
    When you work above your level, you make careless mistakes. When you work below, you don't. Practice more and you won't make as many mistakes.
  6. Sep 16, 2013 #5
    A lot of sign errors can be avoided by using parenthesis a lot when working with multiple terms.
  7. Sep 16, 2013 #6


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    Dearly Missed

    Make fewer operations per line of calculation.
  8. Sep 16, 2013 #7
    I had some sloppiness problems with my algebra when I left high school. I don't know if the same causes yours, but one thing that helped me was writing my problems out more neatly in addition to the suggestions above. I thanked myself a lot once my more advanced classes came around.
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