The Quadratic Formula and the Discriminant

is called the quadratic formula . The quadratic formula can be used
to factor or solve any polynomial in the form : ax2 + bx + c where a ≠ 0. When using the
quadratic formula, it is important to remember that there are three different types of answers
you can get. The type of answer you will get depends on what the discriminant is in the
problem. The discriminant is b2 - 4ac. You may see that it is the part of the quadratic
formula that is in the square root. The three types of answers you can get with the quadratic
formula are two real solutions , two imaginary solutions, or one real solution. If the
discriminant is greater than zero , there will be two real solutions as in examples one and two.

Example 1: 2x2 + 5x – 3 Discriminant = 49

Example 2:
x2 + 5x + 3 Discriminant = 13

If the discriminant is less than zero, there will be two imaginary solutions as in example

Example 3: x2 – 4x + 5 Discriminant = -4

Finally, if the discriminant is equal to zero, then there will be one real solution as in example

Example 4: x2 – 6x + 9 Discriminant = 0

Sketching a graph:
To sketch a graph of a quadratic equation , you will need to find the vertex of the
, y-intercept, and x-intercepts.

To find the vertex, use the formula:

Then use the x- value in the original formula to find the y-value.

To find the y-intercept, set x = 0 and solve for y. The ordered pair will be the y-intercept.
To find the x-intercept(s), set y = 0 and solve for x. You may get more
than one ordered pair. You can also use the quadratic formula to find the x-

To make the sketch, use the points that you found for the vertex, y-intercept, and x-intercept(
s) and draw a curve through the points.

Example 5: y = x2 + 2x – 8

Finding the x-intercept(s) Finding the y-intercept Finding the vertex

So the x- intercepts are (2,0) and (-4,0)

(0,-8) = y-intercept

Now that we know
what the x is, we can
find the y-value.

Vertex is (-1, -9)

Sample Problems
For each of the following quadratic functions, find the vertex, y-intercept, and the x-intercept(
s) of the parabola . Sketch the graph based on this information.

Use the quadratic formula to solve each of the following equations.


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