To understand how exponents work, you will need to think of simplification. There are ways to simplify equations, and using exponents is one of those ways. 3 x 3 x 3 can be simplified by raising the number 3 to the third power. There are also rules for exponents. There are orders for working problems for exponents, which you will also need to keep in mind, when you see them in an equation. 3 (2) is not the same value as 3 raised to the second power. One means 3 times 2, which is six. The other means 3 times 3, which is 9.