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When (and Why) to Factor Algebraic Equations

This topic has 1 expert reply and 0 member replies
schultau Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Joined
25 Aug 2015
Posted:
4 messages

When (and Why) to Factor Algebraic Equations

Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:23 am
When evaluating algebraic equations I can perform the excercise of factoring out a common term, but am still struggling to understand why we do this? And furthermore, when do we know that "ok, next step is for me to factor this equation out". I am having trouble recognizing this step as I am working through practice problems/solutions. Is it related to solving algebraic equations with only 1 variable, in that I should always be on the look out for factoring as a critical step when working through algebraic equations with 1 variable?
Any advice that may help clear this concept up would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much!

GMAT/MBA Expert

Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com Elite Legendary Member
Joined
23 Jun 2013
Posted:
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Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:35 am
Hi schultau,

Much of the 'work' that you have to do in the Quant section revolves around taking the information/data that you're given and reorganizing it. When doing calculations, that often involves 'simplifying' the math. That can include combining like terms, converting fractions to decimals (or vice versa), factoring out variables, etc. It's important to remember that nothing about a GMAT question is ever random - the wording and numbers were specifically chosen so that you could do something with that information. To that end, there aren't that many 'moves' you can make with the limited information that you're given, so you have to consider the possible (limited) options and go from there. As you continue to study, you should be able to get a better sense of when to approach certain questions in certain ways. In that same way though, you also have to pay attention to your mistakes. By defining WHY you made a mistake, you have a better chance of avoiding similar mistakes in the future.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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