Solving radical equations is often a smaller unit embedded into the Algebra 2 curriculum for high school students. However, this topic certainly shows up on End-Of-Course tests, as well as many other standardized tests. If students want to avoid taking a high priced elementary Algebra course in college, then it is best if they can learn this while it is still free in the high school ranks. The TI-83 and TI-84 graphing calculator can provide shortcuts to solving some radical equations, as long as the answer is not an irrational number. While the calculator can come up with fraction and decimal answers, it is easiest to use the calculator to solve radical equations when the answers are integers.
If you are going to rely on the graphing calculator to solve these equations for you, it is essential that you first move everything in the equation to either the left or right side of the equation. You need to completely clear out one side so that it is not equal to zero. If this step is skipped, then you cannot really use the calculator to solve these equations for you.
Next, you will press the Y= command on your calculator and input this equation into the top line. Everything else should be cleared out of this section of the calculator for simplicity’s sake. After you enter the equation, then you need to find the equal button in your calculator and put that in directly after the radical equation. After the equal sign, you need to put in the zero. You should now have the exact same equation from your paper in the calculator to the right of the Y = sign.
More than likely, there will only be one solution to the radical equation you have entered. Although in rare cases, you will either have two or no solutions. To find the solutions you will need to now look at the table of values found by hitting the 2nd GRAPH keys. If there is a 0 in the y-column then this means the x-value is not a solution. If there is a 1 in the y-column, then this means you have found your solution. It is always best to check the supposed solution by substituting it into the original equation to see if it makes the equation hold true. This is just in case you have made a typo along the way to achieving your solution in the graphing calculator.