Algebra 1 : How to factor a trinomial

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Algebra 1

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Example Question #1 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor this expression:  

Possible Answers:

Cannot be factored

Correct answer:

Explanation:

When we factor, we have to remember to check the signs in the trinomial. In this case, we have minus 4 and minus 12. That automatically tells us the signs in the factors must be opposite, one plus and one minus.

Next, we ask ourselves what are the factors of 12? We get 2 & 6, 1 & 12, and 4 & 3.

Then, we ask ourselves, which of these, when subtracted in a given order, will give us -4? The answer is 6 and 2! So we place these in the parentheses with the 's that we know go there so it looks like

Finally, we ask ourselves, what signs do we need to put in to get negative 4 and negative 12? We need a positive  but a negative  so we put the addition sign in with the 2 and the negative sign in with the 6! 

Example Question #2 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor this trinomial:  

Possible Answers:

Not factorable

Correct answer:

Explanation:

When we factor, we have to remember to check the signs in the trinomial. In this case, we have plus 9 and plus 18. That automatically tells us the signs in the factors must be the same, two "+".

Next, we ask ourselves what are the factors of 18? We get 2 & 9, 3 & 6, and 1 & 18.

Then, we ask ourselves, which of these when added in a given order, will give us 9? The answer is 6 and 3! So we place these in the parentheses with the 's that we know go there so it looks like

 

Finally, we ask ourselves, what signs do we need to put in to get plus 9 and plus 18? We already answered that! Two "+" signs! So, the answer is: 

 

Example Question #3 : Trinomials

Factor this expression: 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

When we factor, we have to remember to check the signs in the trinomial. In this case, we have minus 7 and plus 12. That automatically tells us the signs in the factors must be the same, both "-" signs.

Next, we ask ourselves what are the factors of 12? We get 2 & 6, 1 & 12, and 4 & 3.

Then, we ask ourselves, which of these when added/subtracted in a given order, will give us 7? The answer is 4 and 3! So we place these in the parentheses with the 's that we know go there so it looks like

Example Question #3 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor this trinomial: 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

When we factor, we have to remember to check the signs in the trinomial first. In this case, we have plus 11 and plus 14. That automatically tells us the signs in the factors must be the same, two "+" signs.

Next, we ask ourselves what are the factors of 14? We get 2 & 7 and 1 & 14.

Then, we need to account for the coefficient of . That 2 needs to be in front of one of the 's in the binomials, so our two binomials will look like this so far: 

Now we use those factors of 14 to fill in the blanks! We know it will be 2 and 7 because 14 plus 1 is more than 11! 2 plus 7 is less than 11. So, how will we get to 11? We know one of our constants will be multiplied by the 2 attached to the in the first binomial. Because multiplying 7 by 2 would get a number greater than 11, we know we put the 2 in the second binomial! That way the  will multiply with the 2 and give us , which, added to  (the result of multiplying the other variable and constant) will give us ! So we know our answer will be: 

Example Question #5 : Polynomials

Which of the following values of  would make the trinomial  prime?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

For the trinomial  to be factorable, we would have to be able to find two integers with product 36 and sum ; that is,  would have to be the sum of two integers whose product is 36.

Below are the five factor pairs of 36, with their sum listed next to them.  must be one of those five sums to make the trinomial factorable.

1, 36: 37

2, 18: 20

3, 12: 15

4, 9: 13

6, 6: 12

Of the five choices, only 16 is not listed, so if , then the polynomial is prime.

Example Question #3 : Factoring Polynomials

Factor the following trinomial: .

Possible Answers:

None of these answer choices are correct.

Correct answer:

Explanation:

To factor trinomials like this one, we need to do a reverse FOIL. In other words, we need to find two binomials that multiply together to yield .

Finding the "first" terms is relatively easy; they need to multiply together to give us , and since  only has two factors, we know the terms must be  and . We now have         , and this is where it gets tricky.

The second terms must multiply together to give us , and they must also multiply with the first terms to give us a total result of . Many terms fit the first criterion. , ,  and  all multiply to yield . But the only way to also get the "" terms to sum to  is to use . It's just like a puzzle!

Example Question #4 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor the trinomial.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Use the -method to split the middle term into the sum of two terms whose coefficients have sum  and product . These two numbers can be found, using trial and error, to be  and .

and

Now we know that is equal to .

Factor by grouping.

Example Question #5 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor completely: 

Possible Answers:

The polynomial cannot be factored further.

Correct answer:

Explanation:

First, we note that the coefficients have an LCD of 3, so we can factor that out:

We try to factor further by factoring quadratic trinomial . We are looking to factor it into two factors, where the question marks are to be replaced by two integers whose product is  and whose sum is 

We need to look at the factor pairs of  in which the negative number has the greater absolute value, and see which one has sum :

None of these pairs have the desired sum, so  is prime.  is the complete factorization.

Example Question #6 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor completely: 

Possible Answers:

The polynomial cannot be factored further.

Correct answer:

The polynomial cannot be factored further.

Explanation:

We are looking to factor this quadratic trinomial into two factors, where the question marks are to be replaced by two integers whose product is  and whose sum is 

We need to look at the factor pairs of  in which the negative number has the greater absolute value and the sum is :

None of these pairs have the desired sum, so the polynomial is prime.

Example Question #7 : How To Factor A Trinomial

Factor completely: 

Possible Answers:

The polynomial cannot be factored further.

Correct answer:

The polynomial cannot be factored further.

Explanation:

We are looking to factor this quadratic trinomial into two factors, where the question marks are to be replaced by two integers whose product is  and whose sum is 

We need to look at the factor pairs of  in which the negative number has the greater absolute value, and see which one has sum :

None of these pairs have the desired sum, so the polynomial is prime.

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