Finding the Missing Factor

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  • 0:03 Key Vocabulary
  • 0:38 Using Factors
  • 2:18 More Examples of Factors
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dina Albert
In this lesson, you'll learn how to find missing factors in multiplication problems using tools you may already have seen such as multiplication charts, factor trees, area models, and division (with a calculator).

Key Vocabulary

If we want to understand how to find a missing factor, we first need to understand the definition of theses following terms: product and factor.

  • A product is the answer we get when we multiply two or more factors.
  • A factor is a number multiplied by another number to get a product.

Multiplication, factor, and product all work together to form a multiplication expression. Let's also take a look at a multiplication chart.

Multiplication Chart

The products are all in the middle and the factors are the numbers on the side and at the top of the chart.

Using Factors

You use factors all the time! When you are buying 2 gifts for each of your friends, and you have 5 friends, you are thinking of factors:

  • 5 friends * 2 gifts = 10 gifts

5 and 2 are factors in this situation and 10 is the product (the result).

Or maybe you need two notebooks for a class and you have three classes:

  • 3 classes * 2 notebooks = 6 notebooks

3 and 2 are factors, while 6 is the product.

Sometimes, you have a box of 12 cookies and need to share equally with 3 of your friends. You and 3 friends make 4 people all together. In this case, we have a total product, but we are missing a factor: 4(people) x ____ cookies = 12 cookies total.

In this case, we can look back at our multiplication chart for help in finding the missing factor. 12 is the product, and we will find that on the white part of the chart. 4 is a factor, and we will find that on the side of our chart.


Notice the red lines that are connecting our product of 12 to the outsides of the chart: the 4 on the left and the 3 at the top.

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