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Grade 10

Factor algebraic terms


We've already learnt how to factor (or add brackets to) equations but only when these equations have common factors that are numbers. Now we are going to look at number sentences that have both numbers and algebraic terms as factors.

Remember that powers indicate that a value is multiplied by itself. For example, $a^3$a3 means $a\times a\times a$a×a×a. For a refresher on algebraic multiplication and division, click here.


example 1

Factor: $a^2-3a$a23a 

Think: There is no common numerical factor. There is a common algebraic factor. The highest algebraic factor is $a$a. So the GCF is $a$a.


$a\times a$a×a $=$= $a^2$a2
$a\times\left(-3\right)$a×(3) $=$= $-3a$3a
$a^2-3a$a23a $=$= $a\left(a-3\right)$a(a3)
example 2

Factor: $18w^4-27w^2$18w427w2 

Think: The highest common numerical factor is $9$9. The highest common algebraic factor is $w^2$w2. So the GCF is $9w^2$9w2.


$9w^2\times2w^2$9w2×2w2 $=$= $18w^4$18w4
$9w^2\times\left(-3\right)$9w2×(3) $=$= $-27w^2$27w2
$18w^4-27w^2$18w427w2 $=$= $9w^2\left(2w^2-3\right)$9w2(2w23)

More examples

Question 1

Factor: $y^2+4y$y2+4y

Question 2

Fill in the boxes to complete the equality:

  1. $11u-19u^2=u\left(\editable{}-\editable{}\right)$11u19u2=u()

question 3 

Factor: $2u^2-8u$2u28u

question 4 

Factor the following expression:




Factor polynomial expressions involving common factors, trinomials, and differences of squares, using a variety of tools and strategies

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