Algebra 1 : How to factor a variable

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Algebra 1

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : How To Factor A Variable

Solve for , when :

 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

First, factor the numerator, which should be .  Now the left side of your equation looks like 

 

Second, cancel the "like" terms -  - which leaves us with .  

Third, solve for  by setting the left-over factor equal to 0, which leaves you with 

Example Question #1 : Factoring Polynomials

Factor the following expression:

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Here you have an expression with three variables. To factor, you will need to pull out the greatest common factor that each term has in common.

Only the last two terms have  so it will not be factored out. Each term has at least  and  so both of those can be factored out, outside of the parentheses. You'll fill in each term inside the parentheses with what the greatest common factor needs to be multiplied by to get the original term from the original polynomial:

Example Question #2 : How To Factor A Variable

Factor the expression:

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

To find the greatest common factor, we need to break each term into its prime factors:

Looking at which terms all three expressions have in common; thus, the GCF is . We then factor this out: 

Example Question #2 : Factoring Polynomials

Factor the expression:

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

To find the greatest common factor, we must break each term into its prime factors:

The terms have , and  in common; thus, the GCF is .

Pull this out of the expression to find the answer: 

Example Question #2 : How To Factor A Variable

If , and  and  are distinct positive integers, what is the smallest possible value of ?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Consider the possible values for (xy):

(1, 100)

(2, 50)

(4, 25)

(5, 20)

Note that (10, 10) is not possible since the two variables must be distinct. The sums of the above pairs, respectively, are:

1 + 100 = 101

2 + 50 = 52

4 + 25 = 29

5 + 20 = 25, which is the smallest sum and therefore the correct answer.

Example Question #411 : Polynomials

Solve for .

 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

 

Multiply both sides by 3:

 

 

Distribute:

Subtract  from both sides:

Add the  terms together, and subtract  from both sides:

Divide both sides by :

Simplify:

Example Question #3 : How To Factor A Variable

Factor the following polynomical expression completely, using the "factor-by-grouping" method.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Let's split the four terms into two groups, and find the GCF of each group.

First group:

Second group:

 

The GCF of the first group is .  When we divide the first group's terms by , we get: .

 

The GCF of the second group is .  When we divide the second group's terms by , we get: .

 

We can rewrite the original expression,

as,

The common factor for BOTH of these terms is .

Dividing both sides by gives us:

 

 

Example Question #4 : How To Factor A Variable

Factor the following polynomial expression completely, using the "factor-by-grouping" method.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Let's separate the four terms of the polynomial expression into two groups, and then find the GCF (greatest common factor) for each group.

First group:

Second group:

The GCF of the first group is ; it's the only factor both terms have in common.  Factoring the first group by its GCF gives us:

The second group is a bit tricky.  It looks like they have no factor in common.  But, each of the terms can be divided by !  So, the GCF is .

Factoring the second group by its GCF gives us:

We can rewrite the original expression:

is the same as:

,

which is the same as:

Example Question #5 : How To Factor A Variable

Factor the following polynomial expression completely, using the "factor-by-grouping" method.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Separate the four terms into two groups, and then find the GCF of each group.

First group:

Second group:

The GCF of the first group is .  Factoring out from the terms in the first group gives us:

The GCF of the second group is .  Factoring out from the terms in the second group gives us:

We can rewrite the original expression,

as,

We can factor this as:

Example Question #6 : How To Factor A Variable

Factor the polynomial expression completely, using the "factor-by-grouping" method.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Start by separating the four terms into two groups, and find the GCF (greatest common factor) of each group.

First group:

Second group:

The GCF of the first group is .  By factoring out from each term in the first group, we are left with:

(Remember, when dividing by a negative, the original number changes its sign!)

The GCF of the second group is .  By factoring out from each term in the second group, we get:

We can rewrite the original expression,

as,

The GCF of each of these terms is...

,

...so, the expression, when factored, is:

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