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Now that you've learned each factoring technique, the trick is to know which one to use and when!

Let's run down the list:

RULE # 1:

The First Rule of Factoring:

Always see if you can factor something out of ALL the terms.

Example:

6 ( x^2 ) ( y ) + 9 ( x^3 ) ( y^4 ) - 3xy = 3xy ( 2x + 3 ( x^2 ) ( y^3 ) - 1 )

This often occurs along with another type of factoring.

Example:

2x^3 - 2x^2 - 12x

= 2x ( x^2 - x - 6 ) = 2x ( x - 3 ) ( x + 2 )

(All the rest of the rules assume that you've done Rule # 1 first.)