"We focused on factoring quadratic equations, beginning with problems involving common factors before progressing to the a^2-b^2 form and finally, more complex factoring. While the student generally didn't have difficulty with the arithmetic behind factoring, he had trouble recognizing what to do at each step. I think that as long as he continues familiarizing himself with these problems, he will start becoming more comfortable with the concept. He should remember that factoring and distributing are inverses, so that it generally isn't necessary to do both in a single problem!

We also talked briefly about multiplying fractions. He initially didn't understand why we might want to factor the numerator and denominator before multiplying, rather than after, but by the end of the session he understood that this practice makes simplification easier."