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FACTORING GUIDE

I. Check for GCF
II. Count the number of terms

Two Terms
1. Difference of squares 2. Sum or difference of cubes
Example: Examples:

*Note: does NOT factor

Three Terms
1.Leading Coefficient is 1 2. Leading Coefficient is NOT 1

(find 2 numbers that multiply out to
– 6 and add up to 1)

(find 2 numbers that multiply out to
14 and add up to 9)

a) Check to see if it is a perfect square trinomial
(use square root of first and last term as first guess
in trial and error)

b) Use trial and error to factor
(nail down your first and last terms and try
different combinations to get your outer and
inner terms to equal your original middle term)


(outers = – 8x, inners = 3x, their sum is – 5x )


(outers = 24x, inners = – 1x, their sum is 23x )
c) An alternative to trial and error is the “ac
method

See textbook or a Math Center tutor for an
explanation.

Four Terms
Factor by grouping
Examples

1. Two by Two:

2. Three by one :

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