The Order of Operations: PEMDAS Explained

Have you ever wondered why math problems have a specific order of operations? It’s not just to make things difficult; it’s actually a set of rules that help us solve equations correctly. In this blog post, we’ll explore the order of operations, also known as PEMDAS, and why it’s important.

Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction

PEMDAS stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. It’s an acronym that helps us remember the order in which we should perform mathematical operations. Let’s break down each step:

Step 1: Parenthesis

If there are any parentheses in the equation, we start by solving what’s inside them first. Parentheses act as grouping symbols, so whatever is inside them should be treated as a separate unit.

Step 2: Exponents

Next, we deal with exponents. Exponents represent repeated multiplication. For example, 23 means 2 multiplied by itself 3 times, which equals 8.

Step 3: Multiplication and Division

After exponents, we move on to multiplication and division. These operations are performed from left to right, in the order they appear. If there are multiple multiplication or division symbols, we do them in the order they appear, from left to right.

Step 4: Addition and Subtraction

Finally, we come to addition and subtraction. Just like multiplication and division, these operations are performed from left to right, in the order they appear.

PEMDAS: A Closer Look

Let’s look at an example to see how PEMDAS works in practice. Consider the following equation:

5 + (3 x 4) – 2

First, we solve what’s inside the parentheses: 3 x 4 = 12.

5 + 12 – 2

Next, we perform the multiplication and division operations, from left to right. There’s only one multiplication operation, so we do that first:

5 + 12 – 2

Finally, we perform the addition and subtraction operations, from left to right:

5 + 12 – 2 = 15

So, the answer to the equation is 15.

PEMDAS: A Note about Multiplication and Division

One important thing to note about PEMDAS is that multiplication and division have equal precedence. This means that if there are multiple multiplication and division symbols in an equation, we perform them in the order they appear, from left to right.

For example, consider the following equation:

10 x 5 / 2

We can perform the multiplication and division operations in either order, because they have equal precedence. If we do the multiplication first, we get:

50 / 2 = 25

If we do the division first, we get:

10 x 2.5 = 25

Either way, we get the same answer: 25.


The order of operations is an important concept in mathematics that helps us solve equations correctly. By following the rules of PEMDAS, we can ensure that we’re performing operations in the correct order and getting the correct answers.

Remember, PEMDAS is just a tool to help us solve equations. It’s not a set of hard-and-fast rules. If there’s ever a situation where you’re not sure what to do, it’s always best to consult with a math teacher or tutor.