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What does this thing mean?

( x^2 )^3

Well...   5^3  means   (5) (5) (5) ...

So, (blob)^3 means (blob)(blob)(blob)

There are two ways to look at this thing.  Pick your favorite to understand:

WAY 1:

( x^2 )^3 = ( x^2 ) ( x^2 ) ( x^2 ) = x^(2+2+2) = x^6
             using exponent rule #1

WAY 2:

( x^2 )^3 = x^6


TRY IT:

Simplify   ( w^3 )^3  by expanding it out.