Practice test 8 Calculator #13

First, you can plug in on this one, so if you feel rusty on your exponent rules at all, that’s a good move. Especially on the calculator section. Say, for example, that you plug in 4 for a. Just enter it all into your calculator (you may need to be careful with parentheses in the exponent depending on the kind of calculator you have):

    \begin{align*}4^{-\frac{1}{2}}&=x\\0.5&=x\end{align*}

Now that you know x, plug 0.5 into each answer choice to see which one gives you 4.

A) \sqrt{0.5}\approx 0.707

B) -\sqrt{0.5}\approx -0.707

C) \frac{1}{0.5^2}=4

D) -\frac{1}{0.5^2}=-4

Obviously, C must be the answer.

To solve this algebraically, first start by squaring both sides. Raising a power to a power is the same as multiplying the powers, so that’ll get rid of the 1/2 on the left:

    \begin{align*}\left(a^{-\frac{1}{2}}\right)^2&=x^2\\a^{-1}&=x^2\end{align*}

Now raise both sides to the –1 power to get a truly alone. Remember that a negative exponent is the same as 1 over the positive exponent, so you can transform the right hand side from x^{-2} to \frac{1}{x^2} to finish the problem.

    \begin{align*}\left(a^{-1}\right)^{-1}&=\left(x^2\right)^{-1}\\a&=x^{-2}\\a&=\frac{1}{x^2}\end{align*}