Trigonometric Equations
Topic Index | Algebra2/Trig Index | Regents Exam Prep Center


Basic Trigonometric Equations:

When asked to solve 2x - 1 = 0, we can easily get 2x = 1 and x = as the answer.

When asked to solve 2sinx - 1 = 0, we proceed in a similar manner.  We first look at sinx as being the variable of the equation and solve as we did in the first example.


2sinx - 1 = 0

2sinx = 1

sinx =

But, we are only half way to the answer!!!

If we recall the graph of , we will remember that there are actually TWO values of for which the = 1/2.

These values are at:

or at 30 and  150.


If we look at the extended graph of , we see that there are many other solutions to this equation = 1/2. 

We could arrive at these "other" solutions by adding a multiple of to .


Most equations, however, limit the answers to trigonometric equations to the domain (Always read the question carefully to determine the given domain.)


Signs and Quadrants:

Solutions of trigonometric equations may also be found by examining the sign of the trig value and determining the proper quadrant(s) for that value.

Example 1:    

Solution:   First, solve for sin x.


Now, sine is negative in Quadrant III and Quadrant IV. 

Also, a sine value of is a reference angle of 45.   So, consider the reference angle of 45 in quadrants III and IV.



Example 2:    

Solution:   First, solve for tan x.


Now, tangent is negative in Quadrant II and Quadrant IV. 

Also, a tangent value of is a reference angle of 60 degrees.   So, consider the reference angle of 60 in quadrants II and IV.



How to use your
TI-83+/84+ graphing calculator  to solve trigonometric equations.
Click calculator.