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You use it to check if you can appropriately approximate x to be a small enough that it would effect the initial concentration that much when using the calculation involving K. You will most likely use this when solving equilibrium equations.
The % ionization is the concentration of the molecule in the ionized state divided by the concentration of the molecule in the unionized state. If this is less than 5%, not a significant amount of the molecule ionized compared to the initial concentration.
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