Determining Whether a Whole Number is a Solution to an Equation

Learning Outcomes

  • Determine whether a whole number is a solution to an equation

Determine Whether a Number is a Solution of an Equation

Solving an equation is like discovering the answer to a puzzle. An algebraic equation states that two algebraic expressions are equal. To solve an equation is to determine the values of the variable that make the equation a true statement. Any number that makes the equation true is called a solution of the equation. It is the answer to the puzzle!

Solution of an Equation

A solution to an equation is a value of a variable that makes a true statement when substituted into the equation.
The process of finding the solution to an equation is called solving the equation.


To find the solution to an equation means to find the value of the variable that makes the equation true. Can you recognize the solution of [latex]x+2=7?[/latex] If you said [latex]5[/latex], you’re right! We say [latex]5[/latex] is a solution to the equation [latex]x+2=7[/latex] because when we substitute [latex]5[/latex] for [latex]x[/latex] the resulting statement is true.

[latex]\begin{array}{}\\ \hfill x+2=7\hfill \\ \hfill 5+2\stackrel{?}{=}7\hfill \\ \\ \hfill 7=7\quad\checkmark \hfill \end{array}[/latex]

Since [latex]5+2=7[/latex] is a true statement, we know that [latex]5[/latex] is indeed a solution to the equation.

The symbol [latex]\stackrel{?}{=}[/latex] asks whether the left side of the equation is equal to the right side. Once we know, we can change to an equal sign [latex]=[/latex] or not-equal sign [latex]\not=[/latex].

Determine whether a number is a solution to an equation.

  1. Substitute the number for the variable in the equation.
  2. Simplify the expressions on both sides of the equation.
  3. Determine whether the resulting equation is true.
    • If it is true, the number is a solution.
    • If it is not true, the number is not a solution.



Determine whether [latex]x=5[/latex] is a solution of [latex]6x - 17=16[/latex].


Substitute [latex]\color{red}{5}[/latex] for x. [latex]6\cdot\color{red}{5}-17=16[/latex]
Multiply. [latex]30-17=16[/latex]
Subtract. [latex]13\not=16[/latex]

So [latex]x=5[/latex] is not a solution to the equation [latex]6x - 17=16[/latex].


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Determine whether [latex]y=2[/latex] is a solution of [latex]6y - 4=5y - 2[/latex].


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In the following video we show more examples of how to verify whether an integer is a solution to a linear equation.