### How to Decrease Mistakes in Algebra – Part 3

When we left off, we were talking about the double-slash, a form of notation I’ve developed that helps students attain greater focus when simplifying algebraic expressions.

With greater focus, students make fewer mistakes. With the double-slash at their disposal, students avoid the mistake of combining terms that should not be combined. In the following example, students use the double-slash twice to simplify an algebraic expression:

+ 8 – 2(3x – 7)

= + 8 // – 2(3x – 7)

= + 8 // – 6x + 14

= – 6x // + 8 + 14

= – 6x + 22

By cordoning off the section with the distributive property: – 2(3x – 7), the double-slash allows students to see it distraction-free. With this heightened level of focus, students are more likely to work out the distributive property correctly, then continue on, simplifying the whole expression with no mistakes.