# Methods for Factoring Trinomials ••• Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

If there is one math subject nearly every student finds challenging when he or she first encounters it, it is algebra, particularly the factoring of trinomials. There are several methods for factoring trinomials, and none of them are what anyone would call "easy." However, each can be understood with consistent study and practice.

## What Is a Trinomial?

First, you must know what a polynomial is. A polynomial is an algebraic equation that has terms, combinations of numbers and variables like 3x and 5y. Some examples of polynomials are 2x + 3, 3xy - 4y and 3x + 4xy - 5y. That last example is called a trinomial. A trinomial is a polynomial with three terms.

## Greatest Common Factor

The first, and arguably "easiest," method for factoring trinomials is by finding the greatest common factor -- the largest number, variable or term the three terms have in common. For example, with the trinomial 2x^2 + 6x + 4, the number 2 is the only number all three terms have in common, so when you factor out 2, you get 2(x^2 + 3x + 2). The trinomial inside of the parentheses can actually be factored further.