Summary: Factoring Polynomials

Key Concepts

  • Find the greatest common factor.
    1. Factor each coefficient into primes. Write all variables with exponents in expanded form.
    2. List all factors—matching common factors in a column. In each column, circle the common factors.
    3. Bring down the common factors that all expressions share.
    4. Multiply the factors.
  • Distributive Property
    • If [latex]a[/latex] , [latex]b[/latex] , [latex]c[/latex] are real numbers, then[latex]a\left(b+c\right)=ab+ac[/latex] and [latex]ab+ac=a\left(b+c\right)[/latex]
  • Factor the greatest common factor from a polynomial.
    1. Find the GCF of all the terms of the polynomial.
    2. Rewrite each term as a product using the GCF.
    3. Use the Distributive Property ‘in reverse’ to factor the expression.
    4. Check by multiplying the factors.


greatest common factor
The greatest common factor (GCF) of two or more expressions is the largest expression that is a factor of all the expressions.