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ACT Prep: Help and Review44 chapters | 435 lessons | 26 flashcard sets

Instructor:
*Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer*

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

The superscript in math is used quite often. Learn how to easily spot a superscript when you are looking at math problems. Also discover the most popular use of the math superscript as well as another way of using it. Find out how to differentiate between the two.

A **superscript** is the little number that is sometimes placed up and to the right of other numbers. The context of its use determines what the superscript's meaning is. Here are some examples of superscripts as used in math.

See how all of these superscripts are written to the top right of their respective numbers? The superscript is applied to whatever number or variable is written to the bottom left of it. So, in the first example, the 7 is applied to the 5. In the second example, the 3 is applied to the *f.*

The first example, 5^7, demonstrates the most common use of the superscript. If you haven't already guessed it, it is the **exponent** or power use. The 7 in the example means that you multiply the 5 seven times. As an exponent or power, the superscript tells you how many times you are to multiply the number or variable it is next to. Here are some examples of how it works.

In the case of variables, even though the superscript tells you to multiply it so many times, you still write it with the superscript. But with numbers, you multiply it out. The first one tells you to multiply the 3 four times, with your answer being 81. The second one tells you to multiply the *x* three times, but since it is a variable, you still write it with the exponent.

The other use of the superscript is when it tells you which derivative is required.

The above example tells you that the third derivative is asked for. Here are some more examples of this way of using the superscript.

Each tells you how many derivatives to take of each function. The first tells you to take the derivative of the *g(t)* function twice. The second tells you to take the derivative of *f(t)* five times. The last tells you to take the derivative of *h(x)* three times.

To figure out which superscript is being used, you have to look at the context. When it's used as an exponent or power, it is written by itself with the number or variable.

When it is used as the number of derivatives to take, it is written in between the function letter and its variable. Do you see it in the examples above? The derivative is written after the function letter and before its respective variable. In the first one, the 2 is written after the *g* and before the *(t)*.

Superscripts are the little numbers written to the top right of numbers or variables. It means the exponent or power if written by itself with the number or variable. It can also mean the number of derivatives to take if written in between a function letter and its variable. The context will determine which use the superscript stands for.

Once you complete this lesson, you could find it an easy task to:

- Recognize the meaning of superscripts in numbers
- Discuss the main use of superscripts
- Use the secondary superscript
- Determine when one or the other is being used

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ACT Prep: Help and Review44 chapters | 435 lessons | 26 flashcard sets

- What Are the Five Main Exponent Properties? 5:26
- How to Simplify Expressions with Exponents 4:52
- How to Define a Zero and Negative Exponent 3:13
- Rational Exponents 3:22
- Simplifying Expressions with Rational Exponents 7:41
- Adding & Subtracting with Exponents 8:01
- Exponent Rules: Review & Practice 4:56
- Superscript in Math: Definition & Example
- Go to ACT Math - Exponents: Help and Review

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