Equations and Inequalities

Students solve equations and inequalities with rational numbers, and encounter real-world situations that can be modeled and solved using equations and inequalities.

Unit Summary

In Unit 4, seventh-grade students continue to build on the last two units by solving equations and inequalities with rational numbers. They use familiar tape diagrams as a way to visually model situations in the form $$px+q=r$$ and $$p(x+q)=r$$. These tape diagrams offer a pathway to solving equations using arithmetic, which students compare to a different approach of solving equations algebraically. Throughout the unit, students encounter word problems and real-world situations, covering the full range of rational numbers, that can be modeled and solved using equations and inequalities (MP.4). As they work with equations and inequalities, they build on their abilities to abstract information with symbols and to interpret those symbols in context (MP.2). Students also practice solving equations throughout the unit, ensuring they are working towards fluency which is an expectation in 7th grade.  

In sixth grade, students understood solving equations and inequalities as a process of finding the values that made the equation or inequality true. They wrote and solved equations in the forms $$x+p=q$$ and $$px=q$$, using nonnegative rational numbers. In seventh grade, students reach back to recall these concepts and skills in order to solve one- and two-step equations and inequalities with rational numbers including negatives. 

In eighth grade, students explore complex multi-step equations; however, they will discover that these multi-step equations can be simplified into forms that are familiar to what they’ve seen in seventh grade. Eighth-grade students will also investigate situations that result in solutions such as 5 = 5 or 5 = 8, and they will extend their understanding of solution to include no solution and infinite solutions.

Pacing: 16 instructional days (12 lessons, 3 flex days, 1 assessment day)

For guidance on adjusting the pacing for the 2020-2021 school year due to school closures, see our 7th Grade Scope and Sequence Recommended Adjustments.

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This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep


Internalization of Standards via the Unit Assessment

  • Take unit assessment. Annotate for:
    • Standards that each question aligns to
    • Strategies and representations used in daily lessons
    • Relationship to Essential Understandings of unit
    • Lesson(s) that assessment points to

Internalization of Trajectory of Unit

  • Read and annotate “Unit Summary.”
  • Notice the progression of concepts through the unit using “Unit at a Glance.”
  • Do all target tasks. Annotate the target tasks for:
    • Essential understandings
    • Connection to assessment questions
  • Identify key opportunitites to engage students in academic discourse. Read through our Guide to Academic Discourse and refer back to it throughout the unit.

Unit-Specific Intellectual Prep

Tape diagram and equations




Essential Understandings


  • Equations and inequalities are powerful tools that can be used to model and solve real-world situations with unknown quantities.
  • Equations can be solved by reasoning about the arithmetic needed to uncover the value of the unknown. Equations can also be solved algebraically by using properties of operations and equality.  
  • Inequalities have infinite solutions, which can be represented graphically on a number line. In context, these solutions are sometimes constrained by what makes sense for the situation; for example, if solving for the maximum number of people who can fit onto a boat, the solution set would be limited to positive integers.



tape diagram





Related Teacher Tools:

Unit Materials, Representations and Tools


tape diagram

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Key: Major Cluster Supporting Cluster Additional Cluster

Core Standards


Expressions and Equations
  • 7.EE.B.3 — Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.

  • 7.EE.B.4 — Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.

  • 7.EE.B.4.A — Solve word problems leading to equations of the form px + q = r and p(x + q) = r, where p, q, and r are specific rational numbers. Solve equations of these forms fluently. Compare an algebraic solution to an arithmetic solution, identifying the sequence of the operations used in each approach. For example, the perimeter of a rectangle is 54 cm. Its length is 6 cm. What is its width?

  • 7.EE.B.4.B — Solve word problems leading to inequalities of the form px + q > r or px + q < r, where p, q, and r are specific rational numbers. Graph the solution set of the inequality and interpret it in the context of the problem. For example: As a salesperson, you are paid $50 per week plus $3 per sale. This week you want your pay to be at least $100. Write an inequality for the number of sales you need to make, and describe the solutions.

Foundational Standards


Expressions and Equations
  • 6.EE.B.5

  • 6.EE.B.7

  • 6.EE.B.8

Future Standards


Expressions and Equations
  • 8.EE.C.7

  • 8.EE.C.8

Standards for Mathematical Practice

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 — Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2 — Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 — Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 — Model with mathematics.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5 — Use appropriate tools strategically.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP6 — Attend to precision.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP7 — Look for and make use of structure.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8 — Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.