How to Raise a Number to a Negative Power

By Charlotte Johnson
These polynomial equations have three terms, each with variables and exponents.
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Raising a number to a certain power is a mathematical process in which you multiply that number times itself a specific number of times. The number of times that you multiply the value times itself is indicated by the exponent. An exponent is another term for a "power." If you have a number that is raised to a negative power, you must solve this type of problem by completing a process known as the "multiplicative inverse."

Write the number 1.

Draw a fraction line underneath the 1.

Write the number with its exponent. Remove the negative sign from the exponent. For instance, if you have 2^-3, you would rewrite this as 1/2^8.

Multiply the number times itself the number of times as indicated by the exponent. In this example, you would multiply 2 times itself three times to get 8. Therefore your answer to 2^-3 would be 1/8.