UPDATED 2021

# Algebra Test Guide

Algebra tests cover material taught in elementary, middle and high school math classes. Elementary algebra classes study the concept of variables in equations, such as x+3=5, and allow one to find unknowns. The word algebra is Arabic for “bringing together broken parts.”

Algebra is studied to help students understand basic mathematical function and principle. It requires a different way of thinking than one uses for general arithmetic because algebra’s variables often represent something more general than arithmetic.

In algebra, numbers such as X and Y are used to fill in for the unknowns. Algebra students will often see equations such as:
X + Y
X – Y
X * Y or XY
X / Y

Algebra equations can become a bit more complicated, such as:
X (Y + Z)
(Y + Z) / X

In algebra classes, students are taught how to solve such equations in a step-by-step format. In the above example of X + 3 = 5, a math student would first subtract three from both sides:
X + 3 – 3 = 5 – 3, which becomes
X + 0 = 2, which becomes
X = 2

While algebra is often difficult for students to master, it’s a very useful skill. For instance, algebra can help one plan ahead. If a babysitter spent \$20 on games for her charges, for example, she could use algebra to figure out how many hours of babysitting she’ll need to do to make back the money she spent. If X = hours, and she charges \$5 an hour, then the formula would be 5X = 20.
(5X) / 5 = 20/5
X = 4

She’ll have to work four hours to recoup her money, and everything after that is profit.  