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There are several ways we can factor a polynomial of the form ax2 + bx + c, a 0.

Method 1:

Reverse FOIL.

Mentally work backwards from what we know about FOIL. This works best for the simple

case, when a = 1. It is a lot harder when a 1.

If the sign of c is positive, the signs of the binomial are the same. If c is positive, then

the signs are positive; if c is negative, the signs are negative. We want the factors that

ADD up to b.

If the sign of c is negative, one of the binomials will have a positive sign, and the other

will be negative. We want the factors that SUBTRACT to make b (we are still adding, but

since they have opposite signs, we will essentially be subtracting; it is important to

consider the sign when we add these numbers of different signs).

Example 1: Factor x2 + 5x + 6

Step 1: List the factors of 6:

Step 2: The value of c, 6, is positive. Which factors of 6 add up to 5?

Step 3: The signs of the factors will be positive because b is positive.

Factored version: (x + 3)(x + 2)

Step 4: CHECK YOUR WORK. Multiply your answer and check it is what we started with.

Example 2: Factor x2 - 5x 6

Step 1: List the factors of 6:

Step 2: The value of c, -6, is negative. Which factors of 6 when subtracted give 5?

Which factor should be negative and which should be positive?

Step 3: The signs of the factors will be positive because b is positive.

Factored version: (x - 6)(x + 1)

Step 4: CHECK YOUR WORK. Multiply your answer and check it is what we started with.

You try:

a) Factor x2 + 8x + 12

b) Factor x2 10x + 10

c) Factor x2 - 2x - 8

Method 2:

Box Method

Draw a 2x2 box. Put ax2 in the upper left box and c in the lower right box.

Multiply a*c. List the factors. Based on the signs of the trinomial, we can determine

whether we want factors that add up or subtract to c (see method 1).

Extract common factors vertically and horizontally. These are your binomials!

Example: 2x2 5x 3

Method 3:

Diamond Method

Steps:

In the bottom, put the value of b.

The left and the right locations are the numbers that when multiplied, give u

us ac, and

when added, give us b, that is ef = ac and e + f = b.

Put a fraction bar over the left and right values, and put a on top. Reduce.

The top part of the fraction bar is the x

x-coefficient of the

e binomial factor, and the

bottom part is the constant part.

Example: 2x2 5x 3

1)

2)

3)

4)

Method 4:

Slide the leading coefficient,a, to the end, and multiply it by c. Pull out common

factors, if any.

Put back the number you slid by dividing the number in each binomial by a.

Simplify the fractions. If there is a denominator left in one of the binomials, make it the

coefficient of the x-term for that binomial.

Step 1: Slide a (3) to the end, multiplying by c (-10): x2 + x 30

Step 2: Factor using method 1: (x + 6)(x 5)

Step 3: Divide numbers by a: (x + 6/3)(x 5/3)

Step 4: Simplify fractions: (x + 2)(x 5/3)

Step 5: Hey, theres a fraction left! Move the denominator in front of the coefficient:

(x + 2)(3x 5)

Step 6: CHECK YOUR WORK. Multiply your resulting factors to check it is correct.

You try: Factor 2x2 -7x + 5

Practice

Factor the following trinomials. You may use any method you wish, but try a few of them to help

you find your favorite!

1)

x2 + 6x + 5

2)

x2 4x 12

3)

x2 x 12

4)

p2 + 9p + 14

5)

2w2 + 7w + 3

6)

x2 + 2x - 24

7)

4x2 - 4

8)

5a2 8a 4

9)

3n2 + 13n + 4

10) x2 4x + 5

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