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Simplifying Expressions with Exponents - Concept

Teacher/Instructor Alissa Fong
Alissa Fong

MA, Stanford University
Teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area

Alissa is currently a teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brightstorm users love her clear, concise explanations of tough concepts

We can use what we know about exponents rules in order to simplify expressions with exponents. When simplifying expressions with exponents we use the rules for multiplying and dividing exponents, and negative and zero exponents. In Algebra and higher math courses such as Calculus, we will often encounter simplifying expressions with exponents.

Simplifying exponents can be tricky if you don't write out all of your steps. When you come to a big nasty fraction or products where you have positive and negative exponents, numbers and letters or variables, please make sure you remember all of your exponent and properties or else write everything out. There's a few key ones to remember though first thing anything with a zero exponent is equal to 1. It doesn't matter if there's numbers, letters, negative, positive, whatever. Any base to the zero exponent equals 1 and a negative exponent changes the place in the fraction. Like if I have x to the negative 1 over 3 that's going to become 1 over 3x to the positive 1. The x negative exponent got kicked into the bottom.
Or alternatively if I had 3 over x to the negative 1 now that x to the negative 1 piece comes in to the top of the fraction 3x to the 1 like that. Those are the things to keep in mind again please write out all of your work, show lots of steps and that way you'll be able to find your errors if you make them along the way.

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