How to Divide in Scientific Exponents

By Charlotte Johnson
An exponent indicates how many times a base should be multiplied times itself.

Scientific notation is a method of writing values by raising them to powers of 10. This type of notation is an easier, more concise way to write numbers that are very large. For instance, 125,000,000,000 would become 1.25 x 10^11. The exponent 11 means that by moving the decimal to the right 11 times, you will get the original number. You can perform the division of numbers written with exponents and scientific notation by following a few simple rules.

Write out the division sentence. For instance, you might have 9 x 10^8 / 3 x 10^5.

Divide the two numbers that are being multiplied by 10 to a certain power. In this example, you would divide 9 by 3 to get 3.

Subtract the exponent next to the 10 in the second term from the exponent next to the 10 in the first term. In this example, you would subtract 5 from 8 to get 3.

Combine your answers from Steps 2 and 3. In this example, you would have 3 x 10^3.

Tip

Make sure that in the final answer your coefficient is between 1 and 10. You may have to adjust the exponent if the coefficient is less than 1. For example, if your answer is 0.3 x 10^4, you would alter it to read 3 x 10^3.

About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.