As simple as algebra might seem to most mathematics enthusiasts, it remains one of the mathematical concepts students struggle with. Therefore, realizing the reasons you struggle with algebra early enough will help you eliminate the struggle.

Several reasons are connected with why students struggle with algebra; some of which are normal while others might be health-related. Regardless of the reason behind the struggle, there is always room for improvement.

Apart from the student, the struggle with algebraic arithmetic can also emerge from the incompetency of a mathematics tutor and inadequate teaching methods. Students are different and have divergent intelligence quotients (IQ) which can lead to a variation in their level of understanding under the same condition.

Let’s discuss some common difficulties faced by students in algebra to enable you to tackle the issue effectively and help tutors figure out the aspects their students need help the more.

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Common Difficulties Faced By Students in Algebra

Here are some of the common issues you can face in algebra:


Interpreting an algebraic question is crucial to penning down the correct equations. This is arguably the everyday issue and probably the most challenging aspect of algebra. Difficulties relating to interpretation might arise from the reading and comprehensive ability of the student.

One of the ways of overcoming this is to encourage students to read more and try to comprehend whatever they read.


Algebra has to do with the use of assumed values known as variables with the most used ones being “x” (usually the independent variable) and “y” (usually the dependent variable). This can cause some sort of confusion in many aspects of algebra since many students cannot make the right assumptions or substitute the right values for the assumed letters.

It is crucial to develop the logical reasoning capacity of the students to help them make assumptions easily and understand the representation of numbers with letters and symbols.


Aside from the ability to interpret and make the right assumptions; it is also important to apply the correct mathematical principles when solving especially, the basic mathematical operations (BODMAS). BODMAS and equality concepts are very essential in algebra as almost all algebraic questions involve the use of both of them.

Most students make mistakes when interchanging signs or during the application of basic operations. Take for instance; many students leave the sign unchanged after moving a term (unknown or variable) to the other side.

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After all the calculations have been carried out, connecting the answers to the assumed values is another big problem faced by students; mostly when the final answers are to be expressed in statement form. Consequently, it should not be surprising to see students that can solve an algebraic problem but cannot give a reasonable meaning to the answer they have gotten.

Fortunately, the above difficulties can be overcome and how to do this will be discussed in the next section.

How To Overcome The Common Difficulties Faced In Algebra

The following are simple ways you can overcome phobia in algebra:

• Let go of the “algebraic is difficult” belief

• Endeavour to understand the concept of algebra

• Review the basic mathematical operations you were taught in previous classes

• Work more on interpretation and making the right assumptions

• Start from simple algebraic problems to complex ones

• Try to make use of mnemonics to aid your memory

• Do not relent and solve more problems

• Ask for guidance from your teacher when the questions appear too difficult

Is It Normal To Face Difficulties In Algebra?

Facing challenges in algebra is normal and can be overcome as discussed in the section above. However, some challenges in algebra might be due to some health-related issues which may generally affect the mathematical skills and understanding of such a student. In this unusual case, you might need to see a specialist for further assistance. Such conditions may include: visual impairment, slow learning ability, dyscalculia, and dyslexia

Since you are now aware that there is absolutely nothing bad with facing challenges when solving algebraic problems, let’s have some hints on how to solve algebraic problems.

How To Solve An Algebraic Problem Correctly

  • Understand the concept of algebra

Algebra is a broad mathematical concept but can be simplified to the use of letters and symbols (variables) to find the values of unknown numbers. Understanding this basic algebra concept would be sufficient to help you overcome some difficulties you might face when trying to solve an algebraic problem.

Hence, it will be easier for you to solve and get the correct answers.

  • Interpret the questions and make assumptions correctly

Interpreting the questions correctly and making the right assumptions is another vital criterion to solve algebraic problems. Try to practice with simple expressions and play with different statements before proceeding to solve algebraic questions.

  • Apply the correct mathematical principles

After you are sure of what you interpreted using the right assumptions (variables), the next thing is to apply the right mathematical principles to solve the equations you form. You might as well need to revisit the basic operations in Mathematics to do this easily.

  • Relate your answers to the questions

Input your gotten values t the questions to see if it solves the equation as required. If the answers do not suit the equations, be sure to go over your workings again to see if there is an error.


Algebra is like any other mathematical concept and needs you to use the right approach to solve problems under it correctly.

Implement the steps recommended to overcome the struggle with algebra, and you will discover how simple solving an algebraic question can be.


1. How do I help my child with struggling in algebra?

The best way to help such a child is to expose him to more questions on algebra and explain the concept of algebra to him through different teaching methods.

2. Why do schools teach algebra?

Algebra helps to expand the ability of students to reason logically and make meaningful assumptions which are good ways to develop the smartness of students.

3. Is algebra really necessary?

Algebra is a broad mathematical concept and is connected to other mathematical concepts; therefore, it is a building block to understanding advanced mathematical concepts in college.


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