In high school Algebra classrooms, there are many different mathematical skills that you must possess to perform well on classroom and standardized tests (for instance, the ACT). Being able to solve an algebraic equation is perhaps the most valuable skill, followed closely by being able to rewrite a polynomial into a set of factors. After these two basic skills, it is vital to be able to simplify radicals to make it through Algebra 2 and the ACT. For some students, simplifying radicals are a skill that they have perfected after just a couple of days of practice. However, there are many people out there who struggle with this concept and that is where technology can lend a helping hand.

This trick will work as long as you have at least a TI-83 graphing calculator. If you have a graphing calculator, then it is likely you have an 83 or a TI-84 graphing calculator. You first step to simplify a radical is extremely important. First, check to see if the number you are taking the square root of is a perfect square. If it is then there is very little work to be done. If it is not, then the calculator will show a decimal that has no end (this is called an irrational number).

If the result is an irrational number, then your next step is to press the Y= button. Let’s say you are taking the square root of 50, which is not a perfect square (it is a number slightly bigger than 7). You will type in the Y= line, “50 /x”. Dividing 50 by x allows us to find all the whole numbers that divide evenly into 50, although we are only concerned in the perfect square numbers that do this. Pressing 2nd , followed by Graph will yield a complete list of numbers that go into 50. It is always wise to start at 0 and scroll up through the list until you find a perfect square. In the case of 50, we only have to go up to the line that has the number 2. 2 goes into fifty 25 times and 25 is a perfect square. This is a quick and efficient way to help yourself break down radicals with a tiny assist from Texas Instruments.