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Order of operations


Is 2+2\times3 equal to 6 or 8?

To ensure we all get the same answer for maths calculations the order of operations has been determined. Calculate the inside of brackets first, then exponents, then multiplication or division, followed by addition or subtraction.

Here are a few mnemonics to remember the order of the operations:

BEDMAS         BODMAS        BEMA

BEMA is the preferred mnemonic, as there is no order between multiplication & division, and no order between addition and subtraction.

e.g.  6 \div 2 \times (1 + 2)

6 \div 2 \times (1 + 2)   do the addition in the brackets first

= 3 \times 3                 calculate the divide before the multiply (i.e. from left to right)

= 9

NOTE: Scientific calculators will perform the correct order of operations. However, take care when entering calculations as part of a fraction into a calculator, and use brackets around the denominator and numerator of any fractions involving calculations.

Have a go at these five quiz questions: