Collecting Like Terms | Maths Made Easy

Collecting Like Terms – Revision and worksheets

Level 1-3

Collecting Like Terms 

A term is an individual part of an expression and typically appears in one of three forms:

  • A number by itself
  • A letter by itself
  • A combination of letters and numbers

Like terms have the same combination of letters. To add or subtract terms with the same letter, we add or subtract the numbers like usual and just put the letter back on the end.

KS3 Level 1-3

Skill 1: Linear Expressions with a Single Variable

Linear expressions are those in which all variables (i.e. the letters) are to the power of 1 so there are no squared or cubed terms. 

Example: simplify the following, 

2a + 3 + a + 5

We have to group the terms that are similar; all the terms that are just numbers need grouping together and simplifying, as do the similar algebraic terms. 

This gives, 

2a+1a = 3a

3  + 5 = 8

This gives the final answer to be,

2a + 3 + a + 5 = 3a + 8

Note: Normally the 1 in front of the a is left out but we have included it here to make it clear the steps being taken.

KS3 Level 1-3

Skill 2: Like Terms With Different Letters

Sometimes terms have more than one variable (letter) multiplied or divided together:  

\textcolor{red}{xy} + \textcolor{blue}{y} + \textcolor{red}{2xy}

in this instance, \textcolor{red}{xy} and \textcolor{red}{2xy}, are like terms that can be added together to simplify the expression, hence we find, 

\textcolor{red}{3xy} + \textcolor{blue}{y}

KS3 Level 1-3
KS3 Level 1-3

Skill 3: Identifying Like Terms with Powers

Terms of certain powers have to be grouped with terms of the same power. Such terms can also include multiple letters and powers.

2\textcolor{red}{x^2y} + \textcolor{blue}{xy^2} + 3\textcolor{red}{x^2y} + 5\textcolor{blue}{xy^2} = 5\textcolor{red}{x^2y} + 6\textcolor{blue}{xy^2}

  • 2\textcolor{red}{x^2y} and 3\textcolor{red}{x^2y} are like terms 
  • \textcolor{blue}{xy^2} and  5\textcolor{blue}{xy^2} are like terms
KS3 Level 1-3
KS3 Level 1-3

Example 1: Two Variables

Simplify the expression 3y+2x+4x-y.

[1 mark]

\textcolor{blue}{3y} and -\textcolor{blue}{y} are like terms

\textcolor{purple}{2x} and \textcolor{purple}{4x} are like terms

Collecting Like Terms Adding and Subtracting Two Variables
Collecting Like Terms Adding and Subtracting Two Variables
KS3 Level 1-3

Example 2: Including Powers

Simplify the expression 4x^2 +2x +3x^2.

[1 mark]

\textcolor{limegreen}{4x^2} and \textcolor{limegreen}{3x^2} are like terms

\textcolor{purple}{2x} has no like terms

Collecting Like Terms Including Powers
Collecting Like Terms Including Powers
KS3 Level 1-3

Example 3: Multiple Letters

Collecting Like Terms Multiple Letters

Simplify the expression 5mn +3xy+mn+x

[1 mark]

\textcolor{maroon}{5mn} and \textcolor{maroon}{mn} are like terms 

\textcolor{blue}{3xy} and \textcolor{limegreen}{x} have no other like terms

Collecting Like Terms Multiple Letters
KS3 Level 1-3

Example 4: Multiple Letters and Powers

Collecting Like Terms Multiple Letters and Powers

Simplify the expression 2m^2n+3mn+2m^2n

[1 mark]

\textcolor{maroon}{2m^2n} and \textcolor{maroon}{2m^2n} are like terms

\textcolor{blue}{3mn} has no like terms

Collecting Like Terms Multiple Letters and Powers
KS3 Level 1-3

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Example Questions

It is often easier to first group the similar terms together, before simplifying,

 

5x+5-2x+3-4-x \\ =(5x-2x-x)+(5+3-4) \\ =2x+4

It is often easier to first group the similar terms together, before simplifying, 

 

ab+bc+2ab-bc+a \\ = a+(ab+2ab)+(bc-bc) \\ = a+3ab

It is often easier to first group the similar terms together, before simplifying:

 

11x+7y-2x-13y \\ = (11x-2x)+(7y-13y) \\ =9x-6y

It is often easier to first group the similar terms together, before simplifying:

 

2m+6n-3+8n+5n \\ = (2m+5m)+(6n+8n)-3 \\ = 7m+14n-3

It is often easier to first group the similar terms together, before simplifying:

 

2a^2 + 5b-2a -3b+5a^2\\ = (2a^2+5a^2)+(5b-3b)-2a \\ =7a^2+2b-2a

Worksheets and Exam Questions

MME

(NEW) Collecting like terms Exam Style Questions - MME

Level 1-3 New Official MME