A

rational expression looks like a

fraction and has a

variable in the denominator. A rational

inequality just means we now have a

rational expression combined with a

,

,

,

or sign. Below are some examples of what a rational

inequality might look like.

Solving rational inequalities requires the same initial step as solving quadratic equations; we MUST get all terms on the left

side of the

inequality sign and have zero on the right

side of the

inequality sign. Once all terms are on the left

side of the inequality, we have to make sure we only have a single rational expression.

By having a

rational expression compared to zero (with a

,

,

, or

sign), we will only need to find where the

expression is equal to zero (set the top = 0) or where the

expression is undefined (set the bottom = 0). Since the

expression can change signs (from positive to negative or from negative to positive) at these points we can call them changing points.

When we place the changing points on a number line, we will obtain intervals along the number line. We will substitute a test value from each interval into the

inequality to see if the

inequality is true or false. If it is true, then all values in the interval will make the

inequality true. If it is false, then all values in the interval will make the

inequality false.

Summary of steps:

- Write the inequality so that there is a single rational expression on the left side of the inequality and zero on the right side of the inequality.
- Determine the changing points by setting the numerator equal to zero and setting the denominator equal to zero.
- Use the changing points to separate the number line into intervals.
- Select test values in each interval and substitute those values into the inequality.

- If the test value makes the inequality true, then the entire interval is a solution to the inequality.
- If the test value makes the inequality false, then the entire interval is not a solution to the inequality.

- Express your answer in interval notation.