Common Algebra Mistakes
About these Pages  
These web pages are provided to help high school and college/university students eliminate common algebra mistakes. The approach here is not to give a list of the types of those mistakes (see some of the links on the "Other Web Resources" page for such lists), but instead to show examples of such mistakes along with corrections and brief explanations. My hope is that these examples complement what your teachers and texts tell you about correct algebra techniques, and that they will help you eliminate these kinds of mistakes. Over a period of many years teaching I have seen far too many algebra mistakes, both careless and from mislearned and misunderstood application of techniques. These mistakes have prevented students from arriving at the correct solutions to problems they clearly understand how to solve at a conceptual level. For some time I have thought about how to share examples of various common types of mistakes that pervade student work from beginning algebra through to upper division math courses. Many years ago I envisioned recording these mistakes and then distributing them back to students in a Bad Algebra Digest (aka "B.A.D.", a suitably recursive title). I never did. Now, here on these pages, is a collection (that will undoubtably grow) of algebra mistakes of the sort that should not occur. Such a collection can never be complete, since there are endless variations on the mistakes that can be made.
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