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Here are the steps required for factoring by grouping: Step 1: Decide if the four terms have anything in common, called the greatest common factor or GCF. If so, factor out the GCF. Do not forget to include the GCF as part of your final answer. Step 2: Create smaller groups within the problem, usually done by grouping the first two terms together and the last two terms together. Step 3: Factor out the GCF from each of the two groups. In the second group, you have a choice of factoring out a positive or negative number. To determine whether you should factor out a positive or negative number, you need to look at the signs before the second and fourth terms. If the two signs are the same (both positive or both negative) you need to factor out a positive number. If the two signs are different, you must factor out a negative number. Step 4: If the factors inside of the parenthesis are exactly the same, it is time for the 2 for 1 special. The one thing that the two groups have in common should be what is in parenthesis, so you can factor out what is inside the parenthesis, but only write what is inside the parenthesis once. If what is inside the parenthesis does not match, you need to rearrange the four terms and try again until you get a perfect match. If you have rearranged the problems a couple of times and still have not found a perfect match, then the problem does not factor. Step 5: Determine if the remaining factors can be factored any further.
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