# Exponents and Square Roots

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### In Brief:

Exponents are usually introduced in 5th or 6th grade and are expanded upon in Pre-Algebra and Algebra. They can be a convenient way to express large numbers, such as using scientific notation. Square roots are usually a student’s first experience with irrational numbers, and with using a new key on the calculator!

### Topics usually covered:

Expressing numbers in scientific notation, writing expanded form and exponent form, and basic radicals are introduced in 5th grade. Students begin learning the rules of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing radicals and variable exponent expressions in Pre-Algebra and continue in Algebra 1 and 2. Multiplying numbers in scientific notation, negative exponents, and simplifying square roots are also introduced in Algebra.

### Typical problem areas:

Students often struggle with applying exponents to negative numbers, or the difference between (-3)2 and -32 (the answers are 9 and -9, respectively). They can also have trouble with simplifying exponent expressions containing more than one variable. Simplifying radicals can be challenging for students who haven’t memorized common perfect squares. Negative exponents and scientific notation are common challenges as well.

### Can working with a tutor help?

Absolutely! A math tutor accustomed to working with younger children can help establish solid math fundamentals and a strong foundation for later courses. Working one on one over our high definition video and whiteboard, we can help them get off to a great start.