The solutions to a quadratic equation can be found directly from the quadratic formula.

 The equation ax2 + bx + c = 0 has solutions

The advantage of using the formula is that it always works. The disadvantage is that it can be more time-consuming than some of the methods previously discussed. As a general rule you should look at a quadratic and see if it can be solved by taking square roots; if not, then if it can be easily factored; and finally use the quadratic formula if there is no easier way.

·        Notice the plus-or-minus symbol (±) in the formula. This is how you get the two different solutions—one using the plus sign, and one with the minus.

·        Make sure the equation is written in standard form before reading off a, b, and c.

·        Most importantly, make sure the quadratic expression is equal to zero.

### The Discriminant

The formula requires you to take the square root of the expression b2 – 4ac, which is called the discriminant because it determines the nature of the solutions. For example, you can’t take the square root of a negative number, so if the discriminant is negative then there are no solutions.

 If b2 – 4ac > 0 There are two distinct real roots If b2 – 4ac = 0 There is one real root If b2 – 4ac < 0 There are no real roots