# What is an Exponent?

As we begin our study of pre-algebra and algebraic expressions, you will need to learn and understand the use of **exponents**. So, let's begin by defining the term exponent.

An **exponent** is a number (small and raised) that represents the "shortcut method" to showing how many times a number is multiplied by itself.

That sounds complicated, so let's look at a few examples:

## Example 1

## Example 2

## Special Exponents

When a power has an **exponent of 2**, it can be read as "to the **second power**" OR "**squared**".

5^{2 }is read as: "5 to the **second power**" OR "5 **squared**".

When a power has an **exponent of 3**, it can be read as "to the **third power**" OR "**cubed**".

5^{3} is read as: "5 to the **third power**" OR "5 ** cubed**."

## Example 3

## Write the product as a power.

With this direction, you are working backwards and writing the product (multiplication problem) as a power.

## Summing it up

When working with powers, you have a base number. That base number is then raised to a "power" (this is the exponent). The exponent tells you how many times to multiply the base by itself.

As you can see, an exponent is that little, raised number in a power. It tells you how many times to multiply the base by itself.

So, don't let exponents intimidate you - all you really need to know is how to multiply!

Check out the next lesson on the order of operations to see how powers are calculated in a numerical expression.

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