I find that my algebra students feel daunted by a really long algebraic equation they need to solve. I encourage them to treat it like cleaning and organizing.
How to simplify and solve an algebraic problem:
1. Are there parentheses? Get rid of them! Complete all possible operations within the parentheses. (Multiply out if there is a multiplier outside of the parentheses).
2. Are there exponents on regular numbers? Yuk! Get rid of them! Perform the exponent operation. If there are exponents on variables, just leave them alone for now.
3. Make all mixed numbers improper fractions and find...