You've probably figured out by now that algebra is a big player in KS3 Maths. In algebra, instead of numbers, we use letters like a and b. When these letters stand for unknown numbers, we call them variables. But sometimes, we know the numbers they represent – and that's where equations come in.

A Parent's Secret Weapon for Smart Kids1.

If a = 2 and b = 3, what is the value of a + b + a?

5

6

7

8

2 + 3 + 2 = 7

2.

If x = 2 and b = 4, what is the value of x^{2} + b^{2}?

12

16

20

24

(2 x 2) + (4 x 4)

3.

If a = 6 and x = 8, which of the following gives a value of 22?

a + x^{2}

a + 2x

2a + 2x

2ax

'If in doubt, write it down and work it out'

4.

If x = 9 and y = 23, what is the value of y - x?

14

16

18

20

23 - 9 = 14

5.

If a = 2, b = 3, c = 4 and d = 5, what is the value of 2a + 3b + c^{2} - d

24

26

28

30

4 + 9 + 16 - 5 = 24. Don't forget 'IF IN DOUBT, WRITE IT DOWN AND WORK IT OUT!

6.

If x = 5 and y = 10, what is the value of xy / 10

3

5

10

20

Two letters together need to be multiplied together

7.

If a = 4 and b = 2, what is the value of a^{2} / b?

8

16

4

2

16 / 2 = 8

8.

If a = 4 and b = 5, what is the value of 2a + b

7

9

11

13

Remember that when a number and a letter are together they need to be multiplied together

9.

If a = 4 and b = 8, what is the value of 2a + x^{2}

64

75

80

It is impossible to say

Notice that we did not give you a value for x and therefore you cannot work out the expression!

10.

If x = 6 and y = 7, which of the following gives a value of 55

x^{2} + y^{2}

xy^{2}

x + y^{2}

2x + 2y

You can make an estimate before you find the right answer. x^{2} + y^{2} would be too high, as would xy^{2}. You can then check the other two more likely answers

You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Writing and interpreting algebraic expressions

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