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Home > Maths I > Numbers and Money > Order of operation

Maths I

Order of operation

Do you remember BODMAS? It stands for 'brackets', 'other', 'division', 'multiplication', 'addition' and 'subtraction'. The order in which we carry out a calculation is important.

Order of operation

What is 2 + 3 x 4 ?

If we calculate the ‘2 + 3’ part first, we get:

(2 + 3) x 4 = 5 x 4

= 20

If we calculate the ‘3 x 4’ part first, we get:

2 + (3 x 4) = 2 + 12

= 14

These are obviously two different answers - but which one is correct?

BODMAS tells us that 'multiplication' comes before 'addition', so the second answer is correct:

2 + 3 x 4 = 2 + 12 = 14

Worked example:

Calculate: 3 x (7 - 3)

Solution

In this question, we have a bracket, a subtraction and a multiplication.

BODMAS tells us that brackets come first, so we calculate:

3 x (7 - 3) = 3 x 4 = 12

Question

Calculate: 2 + 3 x 5 - 4

Answer

Did you get 13 ? Well done.

If not, remember that multiplication comes before addition and subtraction, so we have: 2 + 3 x 5 - 4 = 2 + 15 - 4 = 13

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