Solving Rational Equations

In this blog, we are discussing the Solving Rational Equations. Rational equations, those enigmatic creatures with fractions adorning their expressions, can often cast a spell of confusion over algebra students. Their deceptive simplicity masks intricate layers of logic and calculation, waiting to be unraveled by the intrepid explorer. But fear not, for within the pages of this journey lies the key to unlocking their secrets! We shall embark on a quest to conquer these equation beasts, wielding the mighty tools of factoring, multiplication, and cancellation, our minds sharpened by strategic maneuvers and guided by the principles of equality. Prepare to witness the metamorphosis of these seemingly complex entities into their true forms, revealing the elegant solutions hidden beneath their fractional disguise. Buckle up, for the hunt for solutions in the realm of rational equations commences now!

What is a Rational Equation?

A rational equation is like a puzzle built with fractions, challenging us to find the hidden values of the variable that make the equation true. It’s defined as an equation where:**

  • One or more terms contain rational expressions: These are fractions that have polynomials (expressions with variables and exponents) in their numerators and/or denominators.
  • The variable appears in the denominator of at least one term: This means the variable is part of a fraction, adding a layer of complexity to the equation.

Here’s a general example of a rational equation:

(3x – 2)/(x + 5) + (4x^2 – 1)/(x^2 – 4) = 2x

In this equation:

  • The first and second terms are rational expressions, as they have fractions with polynomials in their numerators and denominators.
  • The variable ‘x’ appears in the denominator of both the first and second terms, making it a rational equation.

How to Solve Rational Equations

Here’s a guide on how to solve rational equations, with an example:

Find a Common Denominator:

  • Look at all the denominators in the equation.
  • Find the least common multiple (LCM) of those denominators. This will be the common denominator for the entire equation.
  • Multiply each term in the equation by the appropriate factor to get the common denominator.


Equation: (5/x) + (3/(x+2)) = 7 Common denominator: x(x+2) Multiply each term: (5(x+2))/(x(x+2)) + (3x)/(x(x+2)) = 7x(x+2)/(x(x+2))

Simplify and Eliminate Denominators:

  • After multiplying, you’ll have a new equation with no fractions in the denominators.
  • Simplify this equation by combining like terms and distributing any factors.

Example (continued):

(5x + 10 + 3x)/(x^2 + 2x) = 7x^2 + 14x 8x + 10 = 7x^2 + 14x

Solve the Resulting Equation:

  • Now you have a regular equation without rational expressions. Solve it using the techniques you’re familiar with, like isolating the variable, factoring, or using the quadratic formula if necessary.

Example (continued):

  • Subtract 8x and 10 from both sides: 0 = 7x^2 + 6x – 10
  • Factor the quadratic: 0 = (7x – 5)(x + 2)
  • Find the solutions: x = 5/7 or x = -2

Check for Extraneous Solutions:

  • Remember that rational equations have a restriction: the denominators cannot be equal to zero.
  • Plug your solutions back into the original equation to check if they make any denominators zero. If they do, those solutions are extraneous and must be discarded.

Example (continued):

  • Checking x = 5/7: (5/(5/7)) + (3/((5/7)+2)) = 7 –> 7 + 3 = 7 (true)
  • Checking x = -2: (5/(-2)) + (3/((-2)+2)) is undefined (denominator is zero)

Therefore, the only valid solution is x = 5/7.

Practice of solving rational equation:

Here are some practice problems with examples to enhance your skills in solving rational equations:

Problem 1:

Solve the equation: (2/(x-1)) – (3/x) = 1


  1. Find the common denominator: x(x-1)
  2. Multiply each term: (2x)/(x(x-1)) – (3(x-1))/(x(x-1)) = x(x-1)/(x(x-1))
  3. Simplify: 2x – 3x + 3 = x^2 – x
  4. Rewrite as a quadratic: x^2 + 2x – 3 = 0
  5. Factor: (x+3)(x-1) = 0
  6. Find the potential solutions: x = -3 or x = 1
  7. Check for extraneous solutions:
    • x = -3 is valid
    • x = 1 makes a denominator zero, so it’s extraneous

Solution: x = -3

Problem 2:

Solve the equation: (4/(x+2)) + 1 = (3/(x-1))


  1. Find the common denominator: (x+2)(x-1)
  2. Multiply each term: (4(x-1))/((x+2)(x-1)) + (x+2)(x-1)/((x+2)(x-1)) = 3(x+2)/((x+2)(x-1))
  3. Simplify: 4x – 4 + x^2 + x – 2 = 3x + 6
  4. Rewrite as a quadratic: x^2 + 2x – 12 = 0
  5. Factor: (x+4)(x-3) = 0
  6. Find the potential solutions: x = -4 or x = 3
  7. Check for extraneous solutions:
    • x = -4 makes a denominator zero, so it’s extraneous
    • x = 3 is valid

Solution: x = 3


  • Practice consistently to strengthen your problem-solving abilities.
  • Always check for extraneous solutions to ensure accuracy.
  • If you encounter challenges, don’t hesitate to seek guidance or try alternative approaches.
  • With patience and practice, you’ll master the art of solving rational equations!

To Sum Up:

Conquering the enigmatic world of rational equations requires us to wield the scalpel of logic and precision. We began by defining these beasts, creatures of fractions and hidden solutions, lurking in the equations waiting to be unraveled. We then embarked on a guided journey, learning the art of solving these puzzles through careful maneuvering.

Our key takeaways:

  • Identifying the enemy: Recognizing rational equations with their fractions and variable-laden denominators.
  • Disarming the defenses: Finding a common denominator, the unifying ground where fractions unite.
  • Stripping away the disguise: Eliminating denominators to reveal the equation’s true form.
  • Unmasking the solutions: Employing familiar techniques like factoring and quadratic formulas to unveil the hidden values of the variable.
  • Testing for treachery: Checking for extraneous solutions, imposters that don’t belong in the kingdom of true answers.

Remember, with each solved equation, you hone your skills, becoming a seasoned warrior in the battle against algebraic mysteries. So keep practicing, and soon, even the most complex rational equation will tremble before your sharpened blade of logic!

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