# Intro to Algebra Help: Order of Operations

06/11/2015
Algebra is a complex mathematical language that can be really hard for new learners to understand. One of the first rules of algebra to learn is the order of operations. In order to understand the order of operations better, The Tutoring Center in Wichita would like to clarify a few things.

### What is the Order?

The order of operations is typically remembered with the acronym PEMDAS for the words Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. If there are two or more operations in a single expression, the order of the letters in PEMDAS tells you what to calculate first, second, third and so on, until the calculation is complete. If there are grouping symbols in the expression, PEMDAS tells you to calculate within the grouping symbols first.

The letters PEMDAS and the words parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction may be a bit difficult for someone trying to remember this order, so a phrase has also been attached with the letters in PEMDAS: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. If you can remember this phrase, then it may be easier to remember the order of operations given in PEMDAS.

### Why Is PEMDAS Important?

Without PEMDAS, there are no guidelines to obtain only one correct answer. As a very simple example, to calculate 2 x 4 + 7, I could multiply first, and then add to get 15. I also have the option to add first, then multiply and get 22. Which answer is correct? Using PEMDAS, the only correct answer is 15, because the order of the letters in PEMDAS tell me that multiplication, M, should be performed before addition, A.

### Here's an explanation of the rules given in PEMDAS:

1. P as the first letter means you complete any calculations in grouping symbols, such as parenthesis, first.
2. Next, look for exponents, E. Ignore any other operation, and take any numbers with exponents to their respective powers.
3. Even though M for multiplication in PEMDAS comes before D for division, these two operations actually have the same priority. Complete only those two operations in the order they occur from left to right.
4. Even though A for addition is in PEMDAS before S for subtraction, these two operations also have the same priority. You look for these last two operations from left to right and complete them in that order.
Completing a mathematical equation in the wrong order will most likely result in a wrong answer. By following the order of PEMDAS, you should end on the correct result. If algebra or math is difficult for you and your child trust our experts; call us today at 316-854-3000 for more information on math help and one-to-one instruction in Wichita for this summer.

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