When you were a younger student the teachers probably had a simple rule: no calculators. When you're learning the basics of math such as addition, subtraction or memorizing your multiplication tables, it's important to be able to do the calculations without relying on technology. After all, these are the types of math problems you'll have to solve in life, and you won't always have a calculator on hand.

However, as you get older math becomes more complex and suddenly calculators are no longer forbidden, but a useful tool to assist in your learning. Most algebra, calculus and higher level math classes encourage students to use calculators to help them complete their work in a timely manner.

To make your calculator work for you, it's important to know how to use it efficiently. A graphing calculator like the TI-83 Plus can make working with exponents easy, as long as you know how to enter the data that you need.

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### Solving Simple Exponent Problems

Exponents are used to show how many times a number is multiplied by itself. Instead of writing the equation "y=3x3x3x3," you can use the exponent equation "y=3^4," pronounced 3 raised to the 4th (power). If you have high level exponents, something raised to the 15th power, for example, it would take a very long time to do the math.

Use the TI-83. In order to calculate what 3 raised to the 15th power is, you enter the digit 3, then press the caret (^) key, located on the right of the calculator just below the "clear" key. Then, press enter to solve, and see that 3^15=14,348,907.

### Graphing Exponent Functions

Often, students need to use their TI-83 Plus calculator to graph exponent functions. First, you will need to make sure the equation is in the format "y=" since this is how the information is entered into the calculator. You may need to do some algebra to isolate the y value.

Opening the graphing function, you can then enter the equation. First, be sure to clear any plots that you've previously used to graph data. Then, type in the new exponent equation, using the caret button to indicate the exponents, just like like you would when solving simple equations. Be sure to use parenthesis if the equation calls for them.

If you're not seeing anything when you display the graph, try adjusting your zoom. This will allow you to see a wider array of values, and will likely solve the problem of the function not being visible on your graph.