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Square numbers and square roots Cube numbers and cube roots Standard form BIDMAS FractionsThis topic is relevant for:

Here we will learn about powers and roots, including different types of powers, expressing a power with a different base and special cases.

There are also powers and roots worksheets based on Edexcel, AQA and OCR exam questions, along with further guidance on where to go next if you’re still stuck.

**Power and roots** are terms that express a **repeated multiplication** of a number.

**Powers**

For example,

When calculating 2\times2\times2\times2\times2 , we can express the same calculation as 2^5 .

We say this as 2 __ to the power of__ 5 because the number 2 is being

**Roots**

Let’s consider the **inverse** of this expression.

As 2\times2\times2\times2\times2=32 , we can say that the 5^\text{th} **root of ** 32 is 2 .

This would be written as \sqrt[5]{32}=2 .

**Powers** and **roots **separately are inverse operations (like addition and subtraction).

Powers of integers involves raising an **integer** (whole number) to a **power **(also known as an exponent). When we have a **positive** power, the power tells us how many times we need to multiply the integer (also known as the base), by itself.

For example,

3^5We have an **integer** base, 3, raised to a **positive** power, 5.

This means 3 \times 3 \times 3 \times 3 \times 3 = 243 .

When we have a **negative** power, it impacts the **integer **differently. When we raise an **integer** to a **negative** power, we need to find the **positive reciprocal** of the number.

For example,

3^{-3}We have an **integer** base, 3, raised to a **negative** power, -3.

The **reciprocal** of 3 is \frac{1}{3} .

3^{-3} =\frac{1}{3^3} = \frac{1}{27}.

There are also some special cases to consider,

If we raise a non-negative number to the power of 0 the answer is always 1, regardless of what the base number is.

For example,

4^{0}= 1 9999^{0}= 1**Note**: 0^0 is a very special case. There are still many disagreements about what its value should be, with some mathematicians saying 1 and others saying that it cannot be defined.

If we raise a number to the power of 1, it doesn’t do anything, nothing changes. Remember, the power tells us how many times we multiply a number by itself.

For example,

5^{1}= 5 199^{1}= 199We can use powers and roots in a variety of ways,

**Square numbers and square roots**

A square number is a number that is* *multiplied by itself.

The square root of a number is a value that can be multiplied by itself to give the original number.

For example,

6^2=6\times6=36 \sqrt{121}=11**Step-by-step guide:** Square numbers and square roots

**Cube numbers and cube roots**

A cube number is found when we multiply an integer (whole number) by itself three times.

The cube root of a number is a value that can be multiplied by itself three times to give the original number.

For example,

7^3=343 \sqrt[3]{64}=4**Step-by-step guide:** Cube numbers and cube roots

**The powers of 0 and 1**

For example,

6^0=1 4.8^1=4.8**Negative powers**

When a number is raised to a negative power, we calculate the positive reciprocal of that number.

For example,

10^{-2}=\frac{1}{10^2}=\frac{1}{100}**Step-by-step guide:** Negative powers

**Fractional powers**

Fractional powers are a type of index that represents the nth root of a number.

For example,

8^{\frac{1}{3}}=\sqrt[3]{8}=2**Step-by-step guide:** Fractional powers

**Expressing a power with a different base**

We can sometimes express a power with a different base in order to help to simplify expressions.

For example,

8\times2^{2}=2^{3}\times2^{2}=2^5**Step-by-step guide:** Expressing a power with a different base

**The laws of indices**

Powers and roots are used in the five laws of indices,

**Step-by-step guide:** Laws of indices

There are lots of important words we need to know for powers and roots,

Keyword | Definition / Example |
---|---|

Exponent | The power p in an expression of the form a^{p}.
Related terms: power, exponential function, exponential, index. For example, 3^{2}=3 \times 3 is the same as “3 to the power of 2” where 2 is the exponent. |

Base | The base a in an expression of the form a^{p}.
Related terms: whole number, decimal, integer. For example, 5^{3}=5 \times 5 \times 5 is the same as “5 to the power of 3” where 5 is the base. |

Index | The index tells us the power or the number of times the base is multiplied by itself.
The plural of one index is multiple indices. Related terms: power, exponent For example, 4^{1}=4 where “1 in the index of 4”. |

Inverse | The inverse is used to describe an opposite function.
For example, The inverse to addition is subtraction The inverse to multiplication is division The inverse to squaring a number is to square root a number. |

Brackets | Brackets are used to group numbers, operations or variables together.
Related terms: parentheses For example, 2(x+3) is an expression where the number 2 is being multiplied by (x+3). |

Integer | An integer is a whole number.
For example, 4, 17, 203 are all integers. |

Surd | A surd is an unresolved root of the form \sqrt[n]{x}.
For example, \sqrt{2} is the square root of 2, which is an irrational number. |

Rational number | A rational number is a number that can be expressed as a fraction
\frac{a}{b} where a, and b are integers, and b For example, \frac{5}{8} is a rational number as 5 and 8 are integers, expressed as a fraction. |

Irrational number | An irrational number cannot be expressed as a fraction.
For example, \pi is an irrational number as it cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction. |

In order to calculate using powers and roots:

**Apply the laws of indices to simplify any powers.****Simplify and evaluate (if required).**

Get your free powers and roots worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

DOWNLOAD FREEGet your free powers and roots worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

DOWNLOAD FREESimplify and evaluate the expression,

\frac{5^{3}\times{5^{5}}}{5^{4}} .

**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

We can simplify the numerator of the fraction as x^{a}\times x^{b}=x^{a+b} , so we have

\frac{5^{3}\times{5^{5}}}{5^{4}}=\frac{5^{3+5}}{5^{4}}=\frac{5^{8}}{5^{4}}.As the numerator and denominator of a fraction are divided, we can use

x^{a}\times x^{b}=x^{a-b} to obtain

\frac{5^{8}}{5^{4}}=5^{8-4}=5^{4}.2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

Evaluating the expression 5^{4} , we get

5^{4}=5\times5\times5\times5=625 .

So \frac{5^{3}\times{5^{5}}}{5^{4}}=625.

Evaluate the following expression,

(3^{4})^{\frac{1}{2}}\times{3} .

**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

We can simplify the term (3^{4})^{\frac{1}{2}} as (x^{a})^{b}=x^{ab} so we have,

(3^{4})^{\frac{1}{2}}=3^{4\times\frac{1}{2}}=3^{2} .

So we can now write (3^{4})^{\frac{1}{2}}\times{3}=3^{2}\times{3} .

2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

As 3=3^{1} , we can evaluate the expression 3^{2}\times3 to get

3^{2}\times3=3^{2+1}=3^{3}=27.So (3^{4})^{\frac{1}{2}}\times{3}=27.

Simplify the following expression to a single power of 2 ,

\sqrt{4^{3}}\times\sqrt[3]{8} .

**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

The first term in the expression is the square root of 4 cubed. This is equivalent to the square root of 4 , cubed as the powers are interchangeable,

\sqrt{4^{3}}=(\sqrt{4})^{3} .

This means that \sqrt{4^{3}}=(\sqrt{4})^{3}=2^{3}.

The next term is the cube root of 8 . As 8 is a cube number, we can state that \sqrt[3]{8}=2 as 2^{3}=8.

So we can now write \sqrt{4^{3}}\times\sqrt[3]{8}=2^{3}\times{2}.

2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

So \sqrt{4^{3}}\times\sqrt[3]{8}=2^{4}.

Simplify the expression,

f(x)=5x^{-2}\times 4x^{5} -2x .

**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

We can use the index law x^{a}\times x^{b}=x^{a+b} to partially simplify 5x^{-2}\times 4x^{5}-2x .

This is because we can only simplify the base numbers that are multiplied, 5x^{-2}\times 4x^{5}.

5x^{-2}\times 4x^{5} = 5\times 4\times x^{-2}\times x^{5} = 20\times x^{3}=20x^{3}.So we now have 20x^{3}-2x .

2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

If we knew a value for x , or f(x) we would continue to solve the equation however, for this question, we only need to state the simplified answer,

20x^{3}-2x.Simplify the following. Leave your answer in index form.

(\frac{c^{10}}{c^{4}})^{-\frac{1}{4}}**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

As the numerator and denominator of the fraction are in terms of c , we can simplify this using the rule x^{a}\div x^{b}=x^{a-b} ,

c^{10}\div c^{4}=c^{10-4}=c^{6}.We can then use the law of indices to remove the brackets (x^{a})^{b}=x^{ab},

(c^{6})^{-\frac{1}{4}}=c^{6\times{-\frac{1}{4}}}=c^{-\frac{6}{4}} .

2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

As this expression is in terms of c , we can only complete the simplification of the expression by simplifying the fractional power,

c^{-\frac{6}{4}}=c^{-\frac{3}{2}} .

Write 2 as a power of 8 .

**Simplify any powers using laws of indices.**

As we want to express 2 as a power of 8 , we need to calculate how we can use powers to get from 8 to 2 .

We know that 2^{3}=8 and so \sqrt[3]{8}=2.

2**Evaluate or solve (if required).**

Using the fact that x^{\frac{m}{n}}=\sqrt[n]{x^m} ,

we can say \sqrt[3]{8}=8^{\frac{1}{3}}.

So 2=8^{\frac{1}{3}}.

**BIDMAS**

When raising a base to a power, the power is associated with a variable or an expression.

For example, let’s look at 3x^{-2}.

Using BIDMAS, we can see that x is being raised to the power of -2 , and then is multiplied by 3 to get the answer \frac{3}{x^{2}}.

However a common error is to calculate 3x raised to the power of -2 , giving the answer \frac{1}{9x^{2}} which is incorrect. If this was the case, the question would be written as (3x)^{-2} .

**Incorrect application of the exponent**

A similar circumstance is applied to fractions that are raised to a power.

For example, let’s look at (\frac{5}{2})^{-3}.

The correct application of the laws of indices would give a **correct **answer of (\frac{5}{2})^{-3}=(\frac{2}{5})^{3}=\frac{8}{125}.

However a common error would be to apply the -3 only to the numerator, leaving the denominator unchanged. This would give the **incorrect **answer of (\frac{5}{2})^{-3}=\frac{1}{125}\times\frac{1}{2}=\frac{1}{250}.

1. Express the following as a single power of 4 , \frac{4^{8}\times{4^{4}}}{4^{-3}} .

4^{9}

4^{15}

4^{-4}

4^{29}

\frac{4^{8}\times{4^{4}}}{4^{-3}}=4^{8+4-{-3}}=4^{8+7}=4^{15}

2. Evaluate \frac{(5^{6})^{\frac{1}{3}}}{5} .

2

125

5

25

\frac{(5^{6})^{\frac{1}{3}}}{5}=\frac{5^{6\times\frac{1}{3}}}{5}=\frac{5^{2}}{5}=5^{2-1}=5^{1}=5

3. Evaluate \sqrt[4]{81}\div 9^{\frac{1}{2}} .

3

4.5

9

1

\sqrt[4]{81}\div 9^{\frac{1}{2}}=3\div{3}=1

4. Simplify f(y)=y+8y^{6}\div 2y^{3} .

4y^{3}+y

4y^{4}

5y^{3}

4.5y^{2}

f(y)=y+8y^{6}\div 2y^{3}=y+4y^{6-3}=y+4y^{3}

5. Simplify (\frac{x}{x^{-2}\times{x^{3}}})^{-4} .

-1

1

0

x

(\frac{x}{x^{-2}\times{x^{3}}})^{-4}=(x^{1-(-2+3)})^{-4}=(x^{0})^{-4}=x^{0}=1

3. Write 3 as a power of 27 .

3^{3}

27^{-3}

27^{\frac{1}{3}}

3

\sqrt[3]{27}=27^{\frac{1}{3}}\quad(=3)

1. Simplify the expression 4x^{2}\times 3x^{5} .

**(1 mark)**

Show answer

12x^{7}

**(1)**

2. (a) Simplify f(x)=(\frac{1}{9x^{2}})^{-2} .

(b) Hence or otherwise, evaluate f(3^{-1}) .

**(6 marks)**

Show answer

(a)

\frac{1}{9x^{2}}=(9x^{2})^{-1}**(1)**

**(1)**

**(1)**

(b)

f(3^{-1}) = 81 \times (3^{-1})^{4}**(1)**

**(1)**

**(1)**

3. Simplify the following expression. Write your answer in standard form.

\frac{(36\times{10^{12}})\times{(2\times{10^{8}})}}{1.44\times{10^{5}}}

**(3 marks)**

Show answer

36\times 2\times 10^{12}\times 10^{8}=72\times 10^{20}

**(1)**

**(1)**

**(1)**

You have now learned how to:

- Extend your understanding of the number system to include powers, roots and fractional indices.
- Calculate with roots, and with integer and fractional indices
- Simplify expressions involving sums, products and powers, including the laws of indices

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