**Algebra** is like a puzzle and you are looking for the missing pieces. With a jig-saw puzzle you can see spaces where puzzle pieces belong. With algebra, instead of spaces, letters are used for the missing parts. Any letter can be used, but often Xs and Ys are used. OOPS! Does this bring back bad memories ? Have I lost your attention?

If you are thinking you will never need algebra and so why do I have to learn all this stuff don’t be too sure about this. But, let’s say you are correct. If you are taking algebra, just humor everyone and figure out the problems and then get on with your life. There is nothing that you cannot do if you set your mind to accomplish it. You just need the right clues.

**Algebra **has lots of unknowns-imaginary numbers– such as Xs and Ys. The rules are simply clues to help you find answers.

**Clue 1: **When a number is raised to a power, it means that the number is multiplied times its self that number of times.

**Clue 2:** The symbol for taking the square root of a number is called a **radical**, and it looks like a check mark ending with a line as shown here:

**Example: **The square root of 4 is a number when multiplied by itself would equal 4.

This number would be 2, because 2 x 2 = 4.