### Learning Outcomes

- Use the square root property to solve a quadratic equation
- Complete the square to solve a quadratic equation

Quadratic equations can be solved using many methods. You may already be familiar with factoring to solve some quadratic equations. However, not all quadratic equations can be factored. In this section, you will use square roots to learn another way to solve quadratic equations—and this method will work with *all* quadratic equations.

## Solve a Quadratic Equation by the Square Root Property

One way to solve the quadratic equation [latex]x^{2}=9[/latex] is to subtract [latex]9[/latex] from both sides to get one side equal to 0: [latex]x^{2}-9=0[/latex]. The expression on the left can be factored; it is a difference of squares: [latex]\left(x+3\right)\left(x–3\right)=0[/latex]. Using the zero factor property, you know this means [latex]x+3=0[/latex] or [latex]x–3=0[/latex], so [latex]x=−3[/latex] or [latex]3[/latex].

Another property that would let you solve this equation more easily is called the square root property.

### The Square Root Property

If [latex]x^{2}=a[/latex], then [latex] x=\sqrt{a}[/latex] or [latex] -\sqrt{a}[/latex].

The property above says that you can take the square root of both sides of an equation, but you have to think about two cases: the positive square root of* a* and the negative square root of *a*.

A shortcut way to write “[latex] \sqrt{a}[/latex]” or “[latex] -\sqrt{a}[/latex]” is [latex] \pm \sqrt{a}[/latex]. The symbol [latex]\pm[/latex] is often read “positive or negative.” If it is used as an operation (addition or subtraction), it is read “plus or minus.”

### Example

Solve using the Square Root Property. [latex]x^{2}=9[/latex]

Notice that there is a difference here in solving [latex]x^{2}=9[/latex] and finding [latex] \sqrt{9}[/latex]. For [latex]x^{2}=9[/latex], you are looking for *all numbers *whose square is [latex]9[/latex]. For [latex] \sqrt{9}[/latex], you only want the *principal* (nonnegative) square root. The negative of the principal square root is [latex] -\sqrt{9}[/latex]; both would be [latex] \pm \sqrt{9}[/latex]. *Unless there is a symbol in front of the radical sign, only the nonnegative value is wanted!*

In the example above, you can take the square root of both sides easily because there is only one term on each side. In some equations, you may need to do some work to get the equation in this form. You will find that this involves isolating [latex]x^{2}[/latex].

In our first video, we will show more examples of using the square root property to solve a quadratic equation.

### Example

Solve. [latex]10x^{2}+5=85[/latex]

Sometimes more than just the [latex]x[/latex] is being squared:

### Example

Solve. [latex]\left(x–2\right)^{2}–50=0[/latex]

In the next video, you will see more examples of using square roots to solve quadratic equations.

## Solve a Quadratic Equation by Completing the Square

Not all quadratic equations can be factored or solved in their original form using the square root property. In these cases, we may use a method for solving a **quadratic equation** known as **completing the square**. Using this method, we add or subtract terms to both sides of the equation until we have a perfect square trinomial on one side of the equal sign. We then apply the square root property.

First, let us make sure we can recognize a perfect square trinomial and how to factor it.

### Example

Factor [latex]9x^{2}–24x+16[/latex].

If this were an equation, we could solve using either the square root property or the zero product property. If you do not start with a perfect square trinomial, you can complete the square to make what you have into one.

To complete the square, the leading coefficient, *a*, must equal 1. If it does not, then divide the entire equation by *a*. Then, we can use the following procedures to solve a quadratic equation by completing the square.

### Steps for Completing The Square

We will use the example [latex]{x}^{2}+4x+1=0[/latex] to illustrate each step.

- Given a quadratic equation that cannot be factored and with [latex]a=1[/latex], first add or subtract the constant term to the right side of the equal sign.
[latex]{x}^{2}+4x=-1[/latex]
- Multiply the
*b*term by [latex]\frac{1}{2}[/latex] and square it.[latex]\begin{array}{c}\frac{1}{2}\left(4\right)=2\hfill \\ {2}^{2}=4\hfill \end{array}[/latex] - Add [latex]{\left(\frac{1}{2}b\right)}^{2}[/latex] to both sides of the equal sign and simplify the right side. We have:
[latex]\begin{array}{l}{x}^{2}+4x+4=-1+4\hfill \\ {x}^{2}+4x+4=3\hfill \end{array}[/latex]
- The left side of the equation can now be factored as a perfect square.
[latex]\begin{array}{c}{x}^{2}+4x+4=3\hfill \\ {\left(x+2\right)}^{2}=3\hfill \end{array}[/latex]
- Use the square root property and solve.
[latex]\begin{array}{c}\sqrt{{\left(x+2\right)}^{2}}=\pm \sqrt{3}\hfill \\ x+2=\pm \sqrt{3}\hfill \\ x=-2\pm \sqrt{3}\hfill \end{array}[/latex]
- The solutions are [latex]x=-2+\sqrt{3}[/latex], [latex]x=-2-\sqrt{3}[/latex].

### Example

Solve by completing the square. [latex]x^{2}–12x–4=0[/latex]

### Example

Solve by completing the square: [latex]{x}^{2}-3x - 5=0[/latex].

In the next video, you will see more examples of how to use completing the square to solve a quadratic equation.

You may have noticed that because you have to use both square roots, all the examples have two solutions. Here is another example that is slightly different.

### Example

Solve by completing the square. [latex]x^{2}+16x+17=-47[/latex].

Take a closer look at this problem and you may see something familiar. Instead of completing the square, try adding [latex]47[/latex] to both sides in the equation. The equation [latex]x^{2}+16x+17=−47[/latex] becomes [latex]x^{2}+16x+64=0[/latex]. Can you factor this equation using grouping? (Think of two numbers whose product is 64 and whose sum is [latex]16[/latex]).

It can be factored as [latex](x+8)(x+8)=0[/latex], of course! Knowing how to complete the square is very helpful, but it is not always the only way to solve an equation.

In our last video, we show an example of how to use completing the square to solve a quadratic equation whose solutions are rational.

## Summary

Completing the square is used to change a binomial of the form [latex]x^{2}+bx[/latex] into a perfect square trinomial [latex] {{x}^{2}}+bx+{{\left( \frac{b}{2} \right)}^{2}}[/latex] which can be factored to [latex] {{\left( x+\frac{b}{2} \right)}^{2}}[/latex]. When solving quadratic equations by completing the square, be careful to add [latex] {{\left( \frac{b}{2} \right)}^{2}}[/latex] to *both* sides of the equation to maintain equality. The Square Root Property can then be used to solve for [latex]x[/latex]. With the Square Root Property, be careful to include both the principal square root and its opposite. Be sure to simplify as needed.