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When the values of change in molar concentration and equilibrium in molar concentration are unknown (x), the answer you will get will be in terms of x. Thus, since this variable is unknown, we set it equal to 0 and use the quadratic equation to solve for x. If you have enough information from the problem, this won't be necessary if you aren't using variables in your problem solving.
When you make x negligible under the small x assumption, you should check to make sure that you can use this assumption. To do this, calculate that the x value you get is less than 5% of the original concentration.
When calculating the concentrations of products/reactants, we can approximate if the equilibrium constant is very small (<10^-5). This does not x is zero, but that x is very small and has a negligible effect.
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