The Tutoring Center, Kansas City MO 

BLOG

08/14/2015

Algebra Help: How to Solve Exponents That Are Negative

An exponent represents the number of times you have to multiply a number by itself, but what if the exponent is negative or a fraction? Is it possible to multiply a number by itself a negative number of times or 1/2 times? While it can be a brain teaser, we will show you how to solve equations with negative and fraction exponents. It is actually quite simple, and we will show you a few examples.

Negative Exponent Operation Definition

We recognize that you cannot multiply a number by itself a negative number of times, so what does 2^(-4) mean? A negative exponent is equal to the inverse of the same number with a positive exponent. 2^(-4)=1/2^4=1/16. Solving a negative exponent is that easy.

Examples

Here are a few more examples for you to try at home. 3^-2=1/9 4^-1=1/4 2^-5=1/32 1/(2^(-5))=2^5=32

Using Variables

Replacing your number with a variable keeps everything the same, but with a letter. Just flip your number if it is a negative exponent. Let's try some more complicated examples.

Examples with Variables

Simplify the following equation: Because exponents work with multiplication, it does not matter which order you do them. You can either start with the -2 exponent outside then move inside, or vice versa. Let's start inside first.

For Tutoring in Kansas City, MO

If you are looking for more help with math, reading, writing, or test prep, check out the one-to-one tutoring programs at The Tutoring Center in Liberty-Kansas City. Call 816-781-0000 today and ask for our free diagnostic assessment.      

FREE CONSULTATION

Schedule your Free Diagnostic Assessment Today!
SCHEDULE ASSESSMENT!
Learn more about 
THE TUTORING CENTER
on the national website: