- Categories
- Education and Communications
- Studying
- Mathematics
- Algebra

Download Article

Learn factoring, the quadratic formula, or completing the square

**Co-authored by**David Jia

Last Updated: May 27, 2024Fact Checked

Download Article

- Factoring the Equation |
- Using the Quadratic Formula |
- Completing the Square |
- Practice Problems and Answers |
- Video |
- |
- Tips

A quadratic equation is a polynomial equation in a single variable where the highest exponent of the variable is 2.^{[1]} There are three main ways to solve quadratic equations: 1) to factor the quadratic equation if you can do so, 2) to use the quadratic formula, or 3) to complete the square. If you want to know how to master these three methods, just follow these steps.

## Quadradic Formula for Solving Equations

Convert the equation to ax^{2}+ bx+c=0, where a, b, and c are the coefficients. Plug the coefficients into the quadratic formula, which is .

Method 1

Method 1 of 3:

### Factoring the Equation

Download Article

1

**Combine all of the like terms and move them to one side of the equation.**The first step to factoring an equation is to move all of the terms to one side of the equation, keeping the term positive. To combine the terms, add or subtract all of the terms, the terms, and the constants (integer terms), moving them to one side of the equation so that nothing remains on the other side. Once the other side has no remaining terms, you can just write "0" on that side of the equal sign. Here's how you do it:^{[2]}2

To factor the expression, you have to use the factors of the term (3), and the factors of the constant term (-4), to make them multiply and then add up to the middle term, (-11). Here's how you do it:**Factor the expression.**- Since only has one set of possible factors, and , you can write those in the parenthesis: .
- Then, use the process of elimination to plug in the factors of 4 to find a combination that produces -11x when multiplied. You can either use a combination of 4 and 1, or 2 and 2, since both of those numbers multiply to get 4. Just remember that one of the terms should be negative, since the term is -4.
^{[3]} - By trial and error, try out this combination of factors . When you multiply them out, you get . If you combine the terms and , you get , which is the middle term you were aiming for. You have just factored the quadratic equation.
- As an example of trial and error, let's try checking a factoring combination for that is an error (does not work): = . If you combine those terms, you get . Though the factors -2 and 2 do multiply to make -4, the middle term does not work, because you needed to get , not .

Advertisem*nt

3

This will lead you to find two values for that will make the entire equation equal to zero, = 0. Now that you've factored the equation, all you have to do is put the expression in each set of parenthesis equal to zero. But why? -- because to get zero by multiplying, we have the "principle, rule or property" that one factor must be zero, then at least one of the factors in parentheses, as must be zero; so, either (3x + 1) or else (x - 4) must equal zero. So, you would write and also.**Set each set of parenthesis equal to zero**as separate equations.4

**Solve each "zeroed" equation independently.**In a quadratic equation, there will be two possible values for x. Find x for each possible value of x one by one by isolating the variable and writing down the two solutions for x as the final solution. Here's how you do it:- Solve 3x + 1 = 0
- 3x = -1 ..... by subtracting
- 3x/3 = -1/3 ..... by dividing
- x = -1/3 ..... simplified

- Solve x - 4 = 0
- x = 4 ..... by subtracting

- x = (-1/3, 4) ..... by making a set of possible, separate solutions, meaning x = -1/3, or x = 4 seem good.

- Solve 3x + 1 = 0
5

**Check x = -1/3 in (3x + 1)(x – 4) = 0:**We have

(3[-1/3] + 1)([-1/3] – 4)?=? 0..... by substituting

(-1 + 1)(-4 1/3)?=? 0 ..... by simplifying

(0)(-4 1/3) = 0 ..... by multiplying

therefore 0 = 0 ..... Yes, x = -1/3 works^{[4]}6

We have (3[4] + 1)([4] – 4)?=? 0**Check x = 4 in (3x + 1)(x - 4) = 0:**..... by substituting

(13)(4 – 4)?=? 0 ..... by simplifying

(13)(0) = 0 ..... by multiplying

0 = 0 ..... Yes, x = 4 works^{[5]}- So, both solutions do "check" separately, and both are verified as working and correct for two different solutions.

Advertisem*nt

Method 2

Method 2 of 3:

### Using the Quadratic Formula

Download Article

1

**Combine all of the like terms and move them to one side of the equation.**Move all of the terms to one side of the equal sign, keeping the term positive. Write the terms in descending order of degrees, so that the term comes first, followed by the term and the constant term.^{[6]}Here's how you do it:- 4x
^{2}- 5x - 13 = x^{2}-5 - 4x
^{2}- x^{2}- 5x - 13 +5 = 0 - 3x
^{2}- 5x - 8 = 0

- 4x
2

**Write down the quadratic formula.**The quadratic formula is:^{[7]}3

**Identify the values of a, b, and c in the quadratic equation.**The variable*a*is the coefficient of the x^{2}term,*b*is the coefficient of the x term, and*c*is the constant. For the equation 3x^{2}-5x - 8 = 0, a = 3, b = -5, and c = -8. Write this down.4

**Substitute the values of a, b, and c into the equation.**Now that you know the values of the three variables, you can just plug them into the equation like this^{[8]}:- {-b +/-√ (b
^{2}- 4ac)}/2 - {-(-5) +/-√ ((-5)
^{2}- 4(3)(-8))}/2(3) = - {-(-5) +/-√ ((-5)
^{2}- (-96))}/2(3)

- {-b +/-√ (b
5

**Do the math.**After you've plugged in the numbers, do the remaining math to simplify positive or negative signs, multiply, or square the remaining terms.^{[9]}Here's how you do it:- {-(-5) +/-√ ((-5)
^{2}- (-96))}/2(3) = - {5 +/-√(25 + 96)}/6
- {5 +/-√(121)}/6

- {-(-5) +/-√ ((-5)
6

See AlsoSolving Quadratics by the Quadratic FormulaQuadratic Equations - Formulas, Methods, and ExamplesHow to Solve Quadratic Equations? Solving Quadratics9.4: Solve Quadratic Equations Using the Quadratic FormulaIf the number under the radical symbol is a perfect square, you will get a whole number. If the number is not a perfect square, then simplify to its simplest radical version.**Simplify the square root.**^{[10]}If the number is negative,*and you're sure it's supposed to be negative,*then the roots will be complex. In this example, √(121) = 11. You can write that x = (5 +/- 11)/6.7

**Solve for the positive and negative answers.**If you've eliminated the square root symbol, then you can keep going until you've found the positive and negative results for x.^{[11]}Now that you have (5 +/- 11)/6, you can write two options:- (5 + 11)/6
- (5 - 11)/6

8

**Solve for the positive and negative answers.**Just do the math:^{[12]}- (5 + 11)/6 = 16/6
- (5-11)/6 = -6/6

9

**Simplify.**To simplify each answer, just divide them by the largest number that is evenly divisible into both numbers. Divide the first fraction by 2, and divide the second by 6, and you have solved for x.- 16/6 = 8/3
- -6/6 = -1
- x = (-1, 8/3)

Advertisem*nt

Method 3

Method 3 of 3:

### Completing the Square

Download Article

1

**Move all of the terms to one side of the equation.**Make sure that the*a*or x^{2}term is positive. Here's how you do it:^{[13]}- 2x
^{2}- 9 = 12x = - 2x
^{2}- 12x - 9 = 0- In this equation, the
*a*term is 2, the*b*term is -12, and the*c*term is -9.

- In this equation, the

- 2x
2

**Move the**The constant term is the numerical term without a variable. Move it to the right side of the equation:*c*term or constant to the other side.- 2x
^{2}- 12x - 9 = 0 - 2x
^{2}- 12x = 9

- 2x
3

**Divide both sides by the coefficient of the**If x*a*or x^{2}term.^{2}has no term in front of it, and just has a coefficient of 1, then you can skip this step. In this case, you'll have to divide all of the terms by 2, like so:- 2x
^{2}/2 - 12x/2 = 9/2 = - x
^{2}- 6x = 9/2

- 2x
4

**Divide**The*b*by two, square it, and add the result to both sides.*b*term in this example is -6. Here's how you do it:- -6/2 = -3 =
- (-3)
^{2}= 9 = - x
^{2}- 6x + 9 = 9/2 + 9

5

**Simplify both sides.**Factor the terms on the left side to get (x-3)(x-3), or (x-3)^{2}. Add the terms on the right side to get 9/2 + 9, or 9/2 + 18/2, which adds up to 27/2.6

Find the square root of both sides. The square root of (x-3)

^{2}is simply (x-3). You can write the square root of 27/2 as ±√(27/2). Therefore, x - 3 = ±√(27/2).7

Simplify the radical

**and solve for x.**To simplify ±√(27/2), look for a perfect square within the numbers 27 or 2 or in their factors. The perfect square 9 can be found in 27, because 9 x 3 = 27. To take 9 out of the radical sign, pull out the number 9 from the radical, and write the number 3, its square root, outside the radical sign. Leave 3 in the numerator of the fraction under the radical sign, since that factor of 27 cannot be taken out, and leave 2 on the bottom. Then, move the constant 3 on the left side of the equation to the right, and write down your two solutions for x:- x = 3 + 3(√6)/2
- x = 3 - 3(√6)/2)

Advertisem*nt

### Practice Problems and Answers

Quadratic Equation Practice Problems and Answers

## Expert Q&A

Search

Question

What is the fastest way to solve a simple quadratic equation?

David Jia

Academic TutorDavid Jia is an Academic Tutor and the Founder of LA Math Tutoring, a private tutoring company based in Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of teaching experience, David works with students of all ages and grades in various subjects, as well as college admissions counseling and test preparation for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, and more. After attaining a perfect 800 math score and a 690 English score on the SAT, David was awarded the Dickinson Scholarship from the University of Miami, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Additionally, David has worked as an instructor for online videos for textbook companies such as Larson Texts, Big Ideas Learning, and Big Ideas Math.

David Jia

Academic Tutor

Expert Answer

Use the square root method! If the only variable in your equation is x², move all of the other numbers to the other side of the equation. Then, find the square root of both sides of the equation.

**Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.****Thank you for your feedback.**

If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHowYesNo

Not Helpful 11Helpful 28

Question

I am totally lost. Are than any really simple shortcuts for one to use?

Donagan

Top Answerer

Sorry, no. Factoring quadratics is definitely a challenge for many people. Console yourself with the knowledge that you're not likely ever to need this skill in real life. Passing your next math test is another matter.

**Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.****Thank you for your feedback.**

If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHowYesNo

Not Helpful 42Helpful 83

Question

How do I solve the following equation: Find the values of k for which the roots of the equation (k+4)x^2+(k+1)x+1=0 are real and equal?

Community Answer

Having a double root means that your espression is a perfect square. It also means that the discriminate is zero. Using either of these will give an equation in k that you can solve for the answer.A square takes the form (ax+b)^2= a^2 x^2 + 2abx + b^2. Obviously, then b = +1 or -1, leaving a=+/- (k+1)/2 = sqrt(k+4).Setting the discriminant of the original quadratic to zero gives (k+1)^2 - 4 (k+4) = 0.Whichever way you prefer you should get k=-3 (x^2 -2x +1 = (x-1)^2) and k=5 (9x^2 + 6x +1 = (3x+1)^2).

**Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.****Thank you for your feedback.**

If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHowYesNo

Not Helpful 28Helpful 48

See more answers

Ask a Question

200 characters left

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Advertisem*nt

## Video

## Tips

If the number under the square root is not a perfect square, then the last few steps run a little differently. Here is an example:

^{[14]}Thanks

Helpful0Not Helpful0

If the "b" is an even number, the formula is: {-(b/2) +/- √(b/2)-ac}/a.

Thanks

Helpful3Not Helpful0

As you can see, the radical sign did not disappear completely. Therefore, the terms in the numerator cannot be combined (because they are not like terms). There is no purpose, then, to splitting up the plus-or-minus. Instead, we divide out any common factors --- but

**ONLY**if the factor is common to both of the constants**AND**the radical's coefficient.Thanks

Helpful1Not Helpful0

Submit a Tip

All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published

Name

Please provide your name and last initial

Submit

Thanks for submitting a tip for review!

Advertisem*nt

## You Might Also Like

Advertisem*nt

## References

- ↑ https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/quadratic-equation.html
- ↑ https://www.mathsisfun.com/algebra/factoring-quadratics.html
- ↑ https://www.mathportal.org/algebra/solving-system-of-linear-equations/elimination-method.php
- ↑ https://www.cuemath.com/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ https://www.cuemath.com/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ https://www.purplemath.com/modules/solvquad4.htm
- ↑ http://www.purplemath.com/modules/quadform.htm
- ↑ https://www.cuemath.com/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ https://www.cuemath.com/algebra/quadratic-equations/

More References (5)

- ↑ https://uniskills.library.curtin.edu.au/numeracy/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ https://uniskills.library.curtin.edu.au/numeracy/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ https://uniskills.library.curtin.edu.au/numeracy/algebra/quadratic-equations/
- ↑ http://www.mathsisfun.com/algebra/completing-square.html
- ↑ https://www.umsl.edu/~defreeseca/intalg/ch7extra/quadmeth.htm

## About This Article

Co-authored by:

David Jia

Academic Tutor

This article was co-authored by David Jia. David Jia is an Academic Tutor and the Founder of LA Math Tutoring, a private tutoring company based in Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of teaching experience, David works with students of all ages and grades in various subjects, as well as college admissions counseling and test preparation for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, and more. After attaining a perfect 800 math score and a 690 English score on the SAT, David was awarded the Dickinson Scholarship from the University of Miami, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Additionally, David has worked as an instructor for online videos for textbook companies such as Larson Texts, Big Ideas Learning, and Big Ideas Math. This article has been viewed 1,434,076 times.

28 votes - 77%

Co-authors: 63

Updated: May 27, 2024

Views:1,434,076

Categories: Algebra

Article SummaryX

To solve quadratic equations, start by combining all of the like terms and moving them to one side of the equation. Then, factor the expression, and set each set of parentheses equal to 0 as separate equations. Finally, solve each equation separately to find the 2 possible values for x. To learn how to solve quadratic equations using the quadratic formula, scroll down!

Did this summary help you?

In other languages

Spanish

Portuguese

French

Dutch

Chinese

Russian

Indonesian

Thai

Arabic

Hindi

Korean

Turkish

- Send fan mail to authors

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 1,434,076 times.

## Reader Success Stories

Rilley UwU

Sep 24, 2022

"I am a good mathematician. I love to study more advanced than my standard plus. I have a higher level understanding..." more

More reader storiesHide reader stories

## Did this article help you?

Advertisem*nt