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Completing the Square - Problem 6

Teacher/Instructor Alissa Fong
Alissa Fong

MA, Stanford University
Teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area

Alissa is currently a teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brightstorm users love her clear, concise explanations of tough concepts

The first step in completing the square is making sure the leading coefficient, "a", is one. After that, you take half of the "b" term, square it, and add that result to both sides of the equation. You need to add it to both sides to ensure that the equation remains balanced (that is, you can't add something to one side, but not the other.) In this case, since "b" is odd, when you go to take half of "b," you'll be working with a fraction. To square it, square both the top and bottom values. From there, factor your square trinomial. Now you are done completing the square, but usually the instructions ask you to continue to solve: square root both sides using + and -, and then solve for x.

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