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Exponents

Exponents are another way of writing multiplication. You use exponents when you want to write that a number is being multiplied by itself one or more times. For example, you might see a number written like this:

The number 3 is the number being multiplied. The smaller number 2, near the top, means that there are two 3s that are being multiplied together. In other words, the problem would look like this: 3 x 3, and the answer would be 9.

Now, let’s try another one. Let’s say that our number was written this way:

Can you guess what that would mean? If you thought 5 x 5 x 5 x 5, you’re right! We use 5 for the multiplication, and we write it 4 times, because the exponent is 4. Now, all of those get multiplied together, and you get 625.

Warning: many people fall into the trap of simply multiplying the number and the exponent together; for example, instead of taking 5 x 5 x 5 x 5, some people will multiply 5 x 4 and get 20, and be done. Please don’t be one of these people! That is the wrong way to complete the problem, and you will always get a wrong answer if you do it. So always remember to write it out!

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