Year 8 Algebra Skills Test Score: /100 Name: _________ Alg: Comm


Please ensure you read the text of every question carefully. You never know when it will help. If you understand, write “I understand” in the space below.

This test is divided into sections, and each section has a brief introduction reminding you of what you should do. Make sure you read the words, it will help you. Section 1: Collecting like terms Remember that we can group things that are the same. 1 cup of nails plus 2 cups of nails gives us 3 cups of nails. Here is one cup of nails and 3 extras. If a cup contains x nails then the total number of nails is X+3
Q1. Write a number sentence for these items. Make it as simple as possible. a) b) c)


Q2. Draw a “Cup and nail” picture for each of the following: 2x + 2 x+4 x + 2y


Q3. Now we’re going to do it without the diagrams. Simplify the following by collecting “like terms” /4 a) 2x + 3y + 3x + y = c) 11 + 2m + m + 8 = b) 5a + 3b + a + 2b = d) x + 3 + x + x + 7 + x + x =

Q4. This question is the same as the last, but with some subtraction involved. Simplify the following by collecting “like terms” /4 a) 7x + 3y - 3x - y = c) 11 + 2m + m – 3m + 8 = b) 5a - 3b + a + 4b = d) 2x - y – 4x + 3y =

Remember that things are only “Like terms” if they’ve got the same combination of letters. 7x and 3x are “like terms” but they are not like 4y, 3xy or 2x2 Q5. In the following jumble of letters, join all the combinations of like terms with lines. One has been done for you, there are three more. /3 12xy 2x 17x z 3y -3y2 -4x ½y 7y2 42x





Q6. Using that knowledge, try these trickier “Gathering Like Terms” questions: /8 a) 7x2 + 4x + 2x2 + 3x =

b) 7xy + 3y + 2x + 3xy - 2x + y + 4yx + 3x = c) 7x – 3x2 + y2 + 4x2 = d) -4x – 1x + 3x + 8x2 + x2y = Well done! You’ve finished the “Gathering Like Terms” section.

Section 2: Multiplying Algebraic Terms Remember that we don’t use a multiplication sign: × in algebra. For example, 7 × n is better written as 7n. This section is about how we write things without multiplication to make it easier and simpler to write.
Q7. Write the following as simply as you can: a) c) 3×y= -2 × x = b) n × 4 = d) x × p /4

Q8. Here are some trickier ones to write simply. Think about them carefully /3 a) 3×4×y= (hint: the answer is not 34y because that would be thirty-four y. Think of it as three lots of four lots of y)

b) c)

4×x×2= 4×x×y×5=

Q9. Remember that 4 × 4 can be written as 42. The same works for algebraic letters. Try to write these as simply as you can. /4 a) y × y × y = c) 2 × a × b × a × a × b = b) p × p × p × m × m = d) 5 × a × a × 3 × b =

Q10. Now try these tricky ones. Write them out in expanded form first if that will help, then you can rearrange the order and group letters together. /8 a. 3x × 5y = b. 2x × 3x = c. 2x × 4y × 3z = d. 3p × -4p = e. 2x2 × 2x = f. 2ab × -7b =
(remember a positive × negative = negative)

Section 3: Expanding Brackets Let’s go back to our “Cups and Nails” diagrams. In the top box, draw a picture that shows 2x + 1 In the second box, draw another picture that shows 2x + 1.
What you have drawn is two lots of 2x + 1. This can be written as 2 × (2x + 1). Since we can leave the × symbol out, it’s better written as 2(2x + 1) You can see that the number we multiply each of the things inside the brackets by the number outside.

Eg 3(n + 2) = 3×n + 3×2 and this is better written as 3n + 6
Q11 - Expand the following: a) 2(x + 4) = /8

b) 3(2m - 4) =

c) 3(5 – x) =

d) 3(y + x) =

e) y(y + 2) =

hint: remember from section 2 what y × y is

f) x(y + 3x + 7) =

Q12. Now this is the good stuff! We need to combine what we’ve just done with a bit of “Gathering Like Terms” from section 1. Expand these brackets then simplify by gathering like terms. Remember you can do this in several steps. Draw cups and nails if it helps! /12 a) 2(x + 3) + x = b) 3(y – 2) + 8 + 2y =

c) 2(x - 1) + 3(x + 5) =

d) a(3 + b) – 2a + 4 =

e) 4(x + 5) – 2(x + 3) =

f) n(n + x) + 3n2 =

Feeling overwhelmed? That stuff up there a bit too tough. Let’s get back to what algebra is all about, using letters to describe numbers that might change. Use pronumerals to write correct expressions for each statement Three more than a number Twelve take away a number Five less than a number
(Think about which number we start with)

Section 4: Something easier!

Three times a number Half a number
(do this without a ÷ sign if you can)

Three times a number, then five taken away A number times itself then two is added Five more than twice a number A number plus five, then halved A number plus two, then multiplied by three /14

The final section! You’re nearly there. This section is just to check that if you see some of these complex shortenings we’ve been doing, you know how to still use them for calculations. Think about this “Cup and Nails” diagram, it obviously represents the phrase 2n + 3. Now if you knew that each cup contained 5 nails, there would be 2×5 + 3 nails, which is 13 nails. The best way to show this is to write out the equation again, but instead of writing “n” write out the thing that we know n is equal to. Like this: 3(n + 4) is a number sentence. If n = 2 then we’d do this: 3(n + 4) = 3(2 + 4) = 3 × 6 = 18 Don’t forget to use multiple steps if you need to.

Section 5: Substitution

For this section, x represents the number three, y represents the number five and a represents the number Minus Two.

x=3 y=5 a = -2
Q14) These ones are some substitutions into simple equations to show you understand the concept. Remember the answer should be a single number without any x’s, y’s or a’s left. /8

a) x + 4 = b) 3x = c) 2y = d) 2x + 10 = e) x + 2y = f) y – 2x = g) xy = h) y2 =

Q15) Now try some substitutions into trickier equations: /14 a) 2x2 = b) (2x)2 = c) x2y+a = d) 3(x+2) - 5 = e) x(y + a) =

f) 4a + 2y – x = g) x(2x – a ) – 4 =

Yay! You’ve finished the test. Hooray. Now you need to do two things. First, go back through and double check your answers. Then if you’ve still got some spare time, use the blank space below to draw a picture of a dinosaur with a cup and two nails!

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