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Usually if we are given a situation in which we can't ignore the x concentration (cannot follow the assumption), we will be able to solve the equation for x using the quadratic formula. I don't think Dr. Lavelle would give us a cubic equation which we would have to solve without the assumption.
Cubic equations are notoriously to difficult to solve, especially without a graphing calcuator, so I think that on the ones that we will be tested on, we can approximate the value of x given a small k value.
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