GRE Math : How to divide rational expressions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Math

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

Example Question #14 : Expressions

Which of the following is equivalent to \dpi{100} \frac{(\frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x})}{x-t} ? Assume that denominators are always nonzero.

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



We will need to simplify the expression \frac{(\frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x})}{x-t}. We can think of this as a large fraction with a numerator of \frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x} and a denominator of \dpi{100} x-t.

In order to simplify the numerator, we will need to combine the two fractions. When adding or subtracting fractions, we must have a common denominator. \frac{1}{t} has a denominator of \dpi{100} t, and \dpi{100} -\frac{1}{x} has a denominator of \dpi{100} x. The least common denominator that these two fractions have in common is \dpi{100} xt. Thus, we are going to write equivalent fractions with denominators of \dpi{100} xt.

In order to convert the fraction \dpi{100} \frac{1}{t} to a denominator with \dpi{100} xt, we will need to multiply the top and bottom by \dpi{100} x.

\frac{1}{t}=\frac{1\cdot x}{t\cdot x}=\frac{x}{xt}

Similarly, we will multiply the top and bottom of \dpi{100} -\frac{1}{x} by \dpi{100} t.

\frac{1}{x}=\frac{1\cdot t}{x\cdot t}=\frac{t}{xt}

We can now rewrite \frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x} as follows:

\frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x} = \frac{x}{xt}-\frac{t}{xt}=\frac{x-t}{xt}

Let's go back to the original fraction \frac{(\frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x})}{x-t}. We will now rewrite the numerator:

\frac{(\frac{1}{t}-\frac{1}{x})}{x-t} = \frac{\frac{x-t}{xt}}{x-t}

To simplify this further, we can think of \frac{\frac{x-t}{xt}}{x-t} as the same as \frac{x-t}{xt}\div (x-t) . When we divide a fraction by another quantity, this is the same as multiplying the fraction by the reciprocal of that quantity. In other words, a\div b=a\cdot \frac{1}{b}.


\frac{x-t}{xt}\div (x-t) = \frac{x-t}{xt}\cdot \frac{1}{x-t}=\frac{x-t}{xt(x-t)}= \frac{1}{xt}

Lastly, we will use the property of exponents which states that, in general, \frac{1}{a}=a^{-1}.


The answer is (xt)^{-1}.

Example Question #2 : How To Divide Rational Expressions


Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


Multiply by the reciprocal of .


Divide by common factors.

Example Question #1 : Expressions

Solve for :

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


To tackle this problem, you need to invert and multiply:  

Here we see that we have created a quadratic equation. Therefore, we get all terms to one side, set it equal to zero and use the quadratic formula to solve.


The quadratic formula is:


Plugging these values in we get the following:

Example Question #1 : How To Divide Rational Expressions

Express the following as a single rational expression:

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


To divide one rational expression by another, invert and multiply:

Remember to foil the numerator meaning, multiply the first components of each binomial. Then multiply the outer components of each binomial. After that, multiply the inner components together, and lastly, multiply the components in the last position of the binomials together.

This arrives at the following:

You can't factor anything out, so that's your final answer. 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors