How to Solve a Math Problem Using PEMDAS

By Tina Molly Lang
Mneumonic devices can help you solve a complicated arithmetic equation.
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When you are given a messy arithmetic expression, you will need to remember the order of operations. PEMDAS or the phrase “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” is a mnemonic device that with help you remember the order of operations. PEMDAS stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction--mathematical operations are done in that order.

Step 1

To solve a math problem using PEMDAS, pick an example math problem. Let’s use: 10 - 3 x (5-3)^2 + 8 ÷ 2 = ??

Step 2

Start by solving inside the parentheses.

(5-3) = 2

This give: 10 - 3 x (2)^2 + 8 ÷ 2 = ??

Step 3

Next, solve the exponents

(2)^2 = 4

This gives: 10 – 3 x 4 + 8 ÷ 2 = ??

Step 4

Then work on multiplication and division.

3 x 4 = 12 and 8 ÷ 2 = 4

This gives: 10 – 12 + 4 = ??

Step 5

Finally, work out the addition and subtraction.

10 – 12 + 4 = 2

This means: 10 - 3 x (5-3)^2 + 8 ÷ 2 = 2

About the Author

Tina Molly Lang is a violinist, freelance writer, and Yale School of Music graduate. She is also a regular news writer for Associated Content, arts writer for the Examiner and has been published in other magazines including The American Thinker. She has been writing on a freelance basis since 2007.