Solving simultaneous equations
Up to now we have solved equations with only one unknown variable. When solving for two unknown variables, two equations are required and these equations are known as simultaneous equations. The solutions are the values of the unknown variables which satisfy both equations simultaneously. In general, if there are n unknown variables, then n independent equations are required to obtain a value for each of the n variables.
An example of a system of simultaneous equations is
We have two independent equations to solve for two unknown variables. We can solve simultaneous equations algebraically using substitution and elimination methods. We will also show that a system of simultaneous equations can be solved graphically.
What are simultaneous equations
Solving by substitution

Use the simplest of the two given equations to express one of the variables in terms of the other.

Substitute into the second equation. By doing this we reduce the number of equations and the number of variables by one.

We now have one equation with one unknown variable which can be solved.

Use the solution to substitute back into the first equation to find the value of the other unknown variable.
Example 1: Simultaneous equations
Question
Solve for x and y:
Answer
Use equation to express x in terms of y
Substitute x into equation and solve for y
Substitute y back into equation and solve for x
Check the solution by substituting the answers back into both original equations
Write the final answer
Example 2: Simultaneous equations
Question
Solve the following system of equations:
Answer
Use either equation to express x in terms of y
Substitute x into equation and solve for y
Substitute y back into equation and solve for x
Check the solution by substituting the answers back into both original equations
Write the final answer
Solving by elimination
Example 3: Simultaneous equations
Question
Solve the following system of equations:
Answer
Make the coefficients of one of the variables the same in both equations
The coefficients of y in the given equations are 1 and −1. Eliminate the variable y by adding equation and equation together:
Simplify and solve for x
Substitute x back into either original equation and solve for y
Check that the solution and satisfies both original equations
Write final answer
Example 4: Simultaneous equations
Question
Solve the following system of equations:
Answer
Make the coefficients of one of the variables the same in both equations
By multiplying equation by 3 and equation by 2, both coefficients of a will be 6.
(When subtracting two equations, be careful of the signs.)
Simplify and solve for b
Substitute value of b back into either original equation and solve for a
Check that the solution and satisfies both original equations
Write final answer
Solving graphically
Simultaneous equations can also be solved graphically. If the graphs of each linear equation are drawn, then the solution to the system of simultaneous equations is the coordinate of the point at which the two graphs intersect.
For example:
The graphs of the two equations are shown below.
The intersection of the two graphs is . So the solution to the system of simultaneous equations is and .
We can also check the solution using algebraic methods.
Substitute equation into equation :
Then solve for y:
Substitute the value of y back into equation :
Notice that both methods give the same solution.
Example 5: Simultaneous equations
Question
Solve the following system of simultaneous equations graphically:
Exercise 1:
Solve for x and y:

and

and

and

and

and
Solve graphically and check your answer algebraically:

and

and

and

and

and
1.
Substitute value of x into second equation:
Substitute value of y back into first equation:
2.
Substitute value of x into second equation:
y=3
Substitute value of y back into first equation:
x=83=5
3. y=2x+1
Substitute value of y into second equation:
x+2y+3=0
x+2(2x+1)+3=0
x+4x+2+3=0
5x=5
x=1
Substitute value of x back into first equation:
y=2(1)+1=1
4.
a+2b=8
ab=4
3b=4
Substitute into the first equation:
5.
yx=11xy
2y=14xy
Substitute into the first equation:
1.
Substitute value of x into the second equation:
2(2y+1) +3y=6
4y+2+3y=6
y=4
Substitute value of $y$ back into the first equation:
x+2(4)=1
x8=1
x=9
2.
5=x+y
y=5x
Substitute value of y into second equation:
x=5x2
2x=3
Substitute value of $x$ back into first equation:
3.
3x2y=0
Substitute value of y into second equation:
x6x+1 = 0
5x=1
Substitute value of x back into first equation:
4.
Substitute into
Substitute into
5.
Substitute into the first equation:
y=1