Recently I was working with a student and once again saw one of the most common mistakes made in algebra. Actually it’s a mistake that has its roots when a student’s learns about basic fractions and specifically how to reduce or simplify them.

The mistake is a misconception on how to cross cancel like numbers (or variables) in the numerator and denominator in order to reduce a fraction. The best way for me to explain the mistake is to show you some examples. Please be on the lookout for this error as it happens very frequently with algebra students.

**Let’s reduce this fraction**

**** You can only cross-cancel like factors, i.e. numbers or variables that are being multiplied not numbers or variables in sums/differences**

**Another example of the mistake**

**** You can only cross-cancel like factors, i.e. numbers or variables that are being multiplied not numbers or variables in sums/differences**

Although you may think your child knows the above concepts well you still want to review this with them.

I can tell you that even the best of math students make this error. So take a moment and see if your child can do the above problems- you may have discovered they were a little confused as are so many students are about this topic…