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You are reading an older version of this FlexBook® textbook: CK-12 Algebra I Teacher's Edition Go to the latest version.

9.3: Special Products of Polynomials

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Find the square of a binomial.
  • Find the product of binomials using sum and difference formula.
  • Solve problems using special products of polynomials.


Terms introduced in this lesson:

second-degree trinomial
square of a binomial, binomial square
sum and difference of terms
difference of squares

Teaching Strategies and Tips

In this lesson, students learn about special products of binomials.

  • Have students learn to recognize the basic patterns.
  • In classroom examples, use colors to denote the numbers playing the role of a and b in the formulas.

In the special formulas, point out that b is considered positive; the sign does not go with the term.


Square the binomial.

(x - 3)^2


The minus sign tells us to use (a - b)^2 = a^2 - 2ab + b^2. Setting a = x and b = 3 (and not -3),

x^2 - 2(x) (3) + (3)^2 = x^2 - 6x + 9

Error Troubleshooting

General Tip: Students commit a very common error when they write, for example, (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2; that is, they distribute the exponent over addition instead of multiplication.

  • The power rule for products does not apply to sums or differences within the parentheses. In general, (x^n + y^m)^p \neq x^{np} + y^{mp}.
  • Students can learn to avoid this mistake by recalling the exponent definition. Therefore, a polynomial raised to an exponent means that the polynomial is multiplied by itself as many times as the exponent indicates. For example:

(x + y)^2 = (x + y)(x + y)

  • See Review Questions 1-4, especially Problem 4.

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Date Created:

Feb 22, 2012

Last Modified:

Aug 22, 2014
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