Polynomials are things like 2x2 − 3x + x3 − 3. There are three basic questions you can be asked about a polynomial. (There are lots of other harder questions, too, but we'll start with these.)

• The number of terms is just the number of pieces separated by plus or minus signs. So, in our example, 2x2 is one term, 3x is a second term, x3 is a third term and 3 is a fourth term. So there are 4 terms.
• The degree means the biggest exponent of x. (Of course, it could be some other letter besides x.) Here that's 3. But there are two special cases to remember. First, if x is never raised to a power, then the degree is 1. (Then it's a linear function, like the ones in earlier sections.) Second, if x doesn't appear at all (that is all we have is a number, like −3), then the degree is 0.
• The leading coefficient means the number in front of whatever term the degree came from. In this case, the degree came from the term x3, which is the same as 1x3, so the leading coefficient is 1. If there's a minus sign in front of that term, then it counts as part of the leading coefficient.