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Using a scientific calculator
Using a scientific calculator

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1.3 Powers

There are several keys on the calculator that enable you to perform calculations involving powers. For small powers such as squares or cubes there are dedicated buttons, and , which are located in the function key area of the keypad. These are used in a similar manner to how you would write mathematics; for example, to enter you would press . The display also shows the maths in the same way as you would write it on paper.

To calculate higher powers, for example , you need to use the more general power key . This is again used in a natural way. To enter , you use the key sequence . Note that after you press the key, a small box is shown on the calculator display containing the flashing cursor (‘ ’), which enables you to enter the power in the correct place. To move the cursor away from this box and back to the main line of the display once the power has been entered, press the right arrow key at the right-hand side of the large cursor control button.

The figure shows the display on a calculator screen.
Figure 5 The general power key function

Other models of calculator may have the button instead of and may not have specific and keys.

Activity 4 Calculating powers

Calculate each of the following using your calculator.


  1. Here you need to use the general power key .

  2. Remember to use the right arrow key after inputting the power 8 to move out of the power position before entering the rest of the expression. If you obtained the answer 2243822356, you have calculated by mistake.