# How to get better at algebraic manipulations?

I've always been able to manipulate equations found in school homework easily. But when tackling more challenging questions from puzzle books - where I might need three quarters of a page to manipulate the equation into the ideal form - I find myself easily making mistakes.

The obvious solution is more practice. But I can't find a suitable landfill of questions where the focus is on manipulating tediously long/complicated algebraic equations instead of practicing some kind of technique or problem.

Has anyone had the same problem as me and found a felicitous way to overcome it? (Other than the obvious advice to be more careful, which you have to sacrifice speed for unless you've already had lots of practice)

P.S. I'm not sure if this question belongs here; if it does not, I'll be glad to remove it.

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This search turned up a few related question. – user26872 Jul 17 '12 at 3:10

I found pupils, students and last but not least myself having troubles manipulating larger terms.

Here is what worked for me:
What i noticed was that most of my own and my pupils mistakes happened in regions where there was a lack of space for writing or where the notation started being sloppy. So I simply trained my writing and formatting.
-) I tried squared paper and blank paper and also tried to start writing in different regions (or to write on the longer side of a sheet - "landscape format")
-) I tried writing with a finer pen so i could have a better overview of all the terms.
-) With equations where one side spans multiple lines i found it very important to do some indentation.
-) Generally suggestions would be to estimate what you want to do and how much space you need, where you have to blow up terms and also think about the format for a second.
Many people like to use colors for marking terms but i prefer it "black and white style".

For me that was the cheapest way to boost my "algebraic manipulation power". I hope this whas what you were getting at.

Greetings, vanguard2k

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You can try the test bank for the Florida Association for Mu Alpha Theta. Put in a division or a test concept you'd like to test and there are plenty of practice exams.

The premier competition problem solving website in the United States is Art of Problem Solving and they have a few things to explore, but I might suggest Alcumus or the American Mathematics Competitions for which there are grade specific exams for 8th grade, 10th grade, or 12th grade.

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