Sometimes you might hear people talk about “order of operations”, but what are they going on about? Well, “operations” are just what you do to numbers – things like adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

When you come across an equation though you have to very careful that you do these operations in the right order. Take an equation like this:

8 + (9 × 32 + 5)

Do you work left to right? NO! You use BODMAS to tell you the order you work things out in.Brackets
Orders, square roots
Division
Multiplication
Subtraction

So when doing any problem start by working out the brackets, then any orders (i.e. squares, cubes etc), then do any division or multiplication. Adding and subtracting come last.

Sometimes people call it PEDMAS which stands for

Parentheses (which just means brackets)
Exponents (which just means orders), square roots
Division
Multiplication
Subtraction

It’s also called PIDMAS. The “I” just stands for indices which means the same as orders/exponents. They’re all basically the same thing!

Whichever you use, let’s dive in and do some examples.

Do The Brackets First

6 x (4 + 5) = 54 – CORRECT
6 x (4 + 5) = 29 – WRONG

Do The Orders Before Multiplying/Dividing and Adding/Subtracting

3 x 22 = 3 x 4 = 12 – CORRECT
3 x 22 = 62 = 36 – WRONG

Multiply & Divide Before You Add Or Subtract

3 + 4 x 5 = 3 + 20 = 23 – CORRECT
3 + 4 x 5 = 7 x 5 = 35 – WRONG

Otherwise You Must Go From Left To Right

60 ÷ 5 × 3 = 12 x 3 = 36 – CORRECT
60 ÷ 5 × 3 = 60 ÷ 15 = 4 – WRONG