Home  Teacher  Parents  Glossary  About Us  



Before you evaluate an algebraic expression, you need to simplify it. This will make all your calculations much easier. Here are the basic steps to follow to simplify an algebraic expression:
Let's work through an example.
When simplifying an expression, the first thing to look for is whether you can clear any parentheses. Often, you can use the distributive property to clear parentheses, by multiplying the factors times the terms inside the parentheses. In this expression, we can use the distributive property to get rid of the first two sets of parentheses.
Now we can get rid of the parentheses in the term with the exponents by using the exponent rules we learned earlier. When a term with an exponent is raised to a power, we multiply the exponents, so (x^{2})^{2} becomes x^{4}.
The next step in simplifying is to look for like terms and combine them. The terms 5x and 15x are like terms, because they have the same variable raised to the same power  namely, the first power, since the exponent is understood to be 1. We can combine these two terms to get 20x.
Finally, we look for any constants that we can combine. Here, we have the constants 10 and 12. We can combine them to get 22.
Now our expression is simplified. Just one more thing  usually we write an algebraic expression in a certain order. We start with the terms that have the largest exponents and work our way down to the constants. Using the commutative property of addition, we can rearrange the terms and put this expression in correct order, like this.
Homework Help  Algebra  The Basics of Algebra  Email this page to a friend 

