Using the Order of Operations - Also Known as PEMDAS

How many times have you evaluated a numerical expression, and even though you know your addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is correct, you still have the wrong answer?

If this has happened to you, then you probably haven't used the Order of Operations correctly.

What is the Order of Operations?

The order of operations is a set of rules that you must follow in order to correctly evaluate a numerical expression that contains multiple operations (a combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).

Check out our "set of rules".

The Order of Operations

In order to evaluate an expression with more than one operation, you must:

  • 1. Evaluate expressions inside of grouping symbols (parenthesis or brackets).
  • 2. Evaluate powers (think exponents).
  • 3. Multiply and/or divide from left to right.
  • 4. Add and/or subtract from left to right.
  • In order to remember this set of rules, many people remember the acronym, PEMDAS. Check it out:


    Ok, now let's use this set of rules to evaluate numerical expressions.

    Example 1

    Order of Operations Example


    If you find that you are having trouble, use colored pencils to help color code your work as I have done in the example above. This will help you to organize your work and make sure that you follow the rules correctly.

    Many people get confused because you may start computing in the middle of the numerical expression. You can color code by underlining the part of the problem that you are focusing on. Take a look at Example 2.

    Example 2

    Order of Operations Example

    One last example with a power to evaluate. Take a look....

    order of operations example

    We will continue our study of the order of operations in our next lesson, as we focus on alternative grouping symbols.


    We would love to hear what you have to say about this page!

    Algebra Tools - Unit 1

    Return from the order of operations to home page.

    Like Us on Facebook

    Recommend this on Google

    Algebra Class E-course Members


    Sign Up for Algebra Class E-courses

    Click here to renew or retrieve a lost password.

    Search This Site

    Custom Search

    Having Trouble with Your Homework?


    Do You Need Help With Your Basic Algebra Skills?

    Get access to your FREE Algebraic Expressions E-course. You'll have instant access to video lessons, practice problems, quizzes, and read more....

    It's FREE, so try it today!

    sign up

    [ ?]

    Subscribe To This Site

    Add to Google
    Add to My Yahoo!
    Add to My MSN
    Add to Newsgator
    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Enjoy This Site?
    Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

    | Homepage | Contact Me | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer |Affiliates

    Return to top
    By Karin Hutchinson Copyright© 2009-2013.