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1.7: Use the Order of Operations to Evaluate Powers

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Practice Expression Evaluation with Powers and Grouping Symbols
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Do you know how to evaluate a variable expression when it includes powers? Take a look at this problem.

(11)2+7y2+3x19 for x=2,y=1

Evaluating dilemmas like this one is just what this Concept is all about. Pay attention and you will be able to work through this problem at the end of the Concept.


Did you know that you can apply the order of operations to expressions that have powers in them?

Let's look at how to do this.

To do this, we are going to need to refer back to the order of operations.

Order of Operations

P parentheses or grouping symbols

E exponents

MD multiplication and division in order from left to right

AS addition and subtraction in order from left to right

Now look at the E. That E refers to exponents and powers and evaluating exponents in the order of operations. You can see that you evaluate the powers right after the grouping symbols.

It is a bit like working on a puzzle. Here is an expression that needs evaluating.

Evaluate the expression 8h2+[51÷(44.25)]52÷5. Let h=4.

It does look complicated, but if it helps, think of this as a series of steps. The order of operations is your guide. If you follow the order of operations then working through a problem such as this one becomes much easier.

PEMDASStep 1: Substitute 4 for ′′h.′′8h2+[51÷(44.25)]52÷58(4)2+[51÷(44.25)]52÷5Step 2: Remember PEMDAS. Therefore, perform the operation inside thegrouping symbols first. Recall that order of operations must be followedinside grouping symbols also. In this case, multiply 4×4.25 before dividingby 51.8(4)2+[51÷(44.25)]52÷58(4)2+[51÷17]52÷58(4)2+352÷5Step 3: The next step in order of operations is to simplify the numbers withexponents.8(4)2+352÷58(44)+355÷58(16)+325÷5Step 4: Multiply8(16)+325÷5128+325÷5Step 5: Divide128+325÷5128+35Step 6: Add128+351315Step 6: Subtract1315=126

The answer is 126.

We can also evaluate variable expressions that have more than one variable. Notice that a different value has been given for x and y. You simply substitute the given values into each expression and evaluate it for the quantity of the expression.

Evaluate the expression 4x3(3y÷9)+12. Let x=3 and y=9.

4x3(3y÷9)+12 (Substitute the variables)4(3)3[(3×9)÷9]+12 (Parentheses)4(3)3[27÷9]+124(3)33+12 (Exponents)4(3×3×3)3+124(27)3+12 (Multiply)1083+12 (Add and then Subtract from left to right)105+12117

The answer is 117.

When you have variable and numerical expressions with powers in them, you can use the order of operations to evaluate the expressions. Remember not to get stuck if the problem seems complicated. Stick to the order of operations and you will be able to evaluate the expression.

Example A

Evaluate the expression 23+4y+12 for y=3.

Solution: 32

Example B

Evaluate the expression 53+7y30 for y=9.

Solution: 92

Example C

Evaluate the expression 6x+7y+32 for x=4,y=6.

Solution: 75

Now let's go back to the dilemma from the beginning of the Concept. Evaluate this expression.

(11)2+7y2+3x19 for x=2,y=1

First, let's substitute the given values into the expression for x and y.

(11)2+7(1)2+3(2)19 for x=2,y=1

Now we can evaluate the powers. Here is our answer so far.



This is our final answer.


Numerical Expression
a group of numbers and operations used to represent a quantity without an equals sign.
Variable Expression
a group of numbers, operations and variables used to represent a quantity without an equals sign.
the value of a base and an exponent.
the regular sized number that the exponent works upon.
the little number that tells you how many times to multiply the base by itself.

Guided Practice

Here is one for you to try on your own.

Evaluate the expression 123+7y2+12 for y=6.


Step 1: Before performing the order of operations, substitute 6 for “y.”


Step 2: Perform the calculations inside the parentheses.


Step 3: Perform the calculations with exponents.


Step 4: Multiply


Step 5: Add


The answer is -1,464.

Video Review

Khan Academy Introduction to the Order of Operations


Directions: Evaluate each expression. Remember to follow the order of operations.

  1. 32+[(52)3]82
  2. 52+(3+5)62+2
  3. 63+52+25
  4. 16(123)
  5. 82(2(33)÷2)+(165)

Directions: Evaluate each expression by substituting the given value into each expression. Remember to follow the order of operations.

6. 23+7y+1 for y=6.

7. 12+7x28 for x=6.

8. 14+7y2+22 for y=3.

9. 18x+7y+12 for x=3,y=6.

10. 63+7x218 for \begin{align*}x=5\end{align*}.

11. \begin{align*}45 + 8y + 3^3\end{align*} for \begin{align*}y=5\end{align*}.

12. \begin{align*}-3^3 + 8x -2^2\end{align*} for \begin{align*}x=7\end{align*}.

13. \begin{align*}(-12)^2 + 7y -4^2\end{align*} for \begin{align*}y=6\end{align*}.

14. \begin{align*}-4^3 + 9x + 11\end{align*} for \begin{align*}x=4\end{align*}.

15. \begin{align*}(-7)^2 + 7x^2 + 12^2\end{align*} for \begin{align*}y=2\end{align*}.

16. \begin{align*}-45 + 7^2 - x^3\end{align*} for \begin{align*}x=4\end{align*}.

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Base When a value is raised to a power, the value is referred to as the base, and the power is called the exponent. In the expression 32^4, 32 is the base, and 4 is the exponent.
Evaluate To evaluate an expression or equation means to perform the included operations, commonly in order to find a specific value.
Exponent Exponents are used to describe the number of times that a term is multiplied by itself.
Numerical expression A numerical expression is a group of numbers and operations used to represent a quantity.
Variable Expression A variable expression is a mathematical phrase that contains at least one variable or unknown quantity.

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Date Created:
Dec 19, 2012
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Aug 11, 2016
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