Order of Operations

There might be some questions on the GED math test that require you to do multiple operations during a single step of the problem. In order to arrive at the correct answer you need to perform the operations in a certain order. The mnemonic device PEMDAS or “please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” is often used for this. Here’s what the initials stand for:

P: do parentheses first

E: do exponents second

M: do multiplication third

D: do division fourth

A: do addition fifth

S: do subtraction sixth

Here is an example:

PEMDAS. P, do whatever is in parentheses first, which is 9 + 7.

PEMDAS. E, do whatever exponents there are. We have 16² = 256

PEMDAS. M, is there any multiplication? Yes, 18 times 8 = 144.

PEMDAS. D, do any division. 256 over 78 is a division problem. 256 divided by 8 is 32.

PEMDAS. A, do addition. 32 + 36 = 68

PEMDAS. S, finally do the subtraction.

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22 comments

  1. Lakeshia says:

    Great Example!

  2. jones says:

    Thanks you make it sooooooooo much more simple.

  3. pedro says:

    wow thanks never knew how to do these until now less then five minutes and i feel like i mastered it!

  4. Brittani says:

    These are awesome and all of this is helping out soo much! I appreciate the effort you have put into this website! 🙂

  5. Tara says:

    Thank you so much! You are going to be a great math teacher in the future!

  6. lynn says:

    I am so thankful for this. I just stumbled acrossed it looking for something to help with math. I felt like the big GED book does not simplify enough. It confuses me even more. Thx!

  7. chris says:

    Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally is a great way to remember the order.

  8. mike mccrihan says:

    So is the answer neg 17 or just 17, excuse my ignorance

  9. mike mccrohan says:

    neg 76

  10. Daniel Klase says:

    PEMDAS — your explanation is incorrect. You do either Mult or Div first depending which comes first LEFT to RIGHT. You do not always do multiplication first. Just as you do not always do addition first.

  11. Catresha says:

    #The Full Breakdown 🙂

  12. Thomas says:

    Hey, your explanation of PEMDAS is a little wrong, it goes P E MD AS. meaning MD and AS or Multiplication and Division are equal. For example, if you have
    4 / 8 x 6, the answer wouldn’t be 12 as your theory would assume. you do MD from left to right, 4 / 8 x 6 equals 3. just don’t want anybody to miss a question on their GED because of this

  13. sedrika says:

    Going Step By Step Helped Me Understand It More , Thank YOU !!!

  14. Amber says:

    how I remember is please excuse my dear aunt sally.PEMDAS

  15. James B says:

    Going back to college after 30 years. awesome website and easy to navigate. Thanks

  16. Auston Cron says:

    Unfortunately, there is an error at the beginning of the lesson. PEMDAS means Parenthesis, exponents, multiplication and division from left to right, and then addition and subtraction from left to right. See Thomas above. I’ve 45 years teaching secondary. By your description:

    7 + 6 / 3 * 8 – 8 = 7 + 6 / 24 – 8 = 3/4

    really, it is 7 + 2 * 8 – 8 = 15

    The left to right for multiplication & divison and addition & subtraction are critical!

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