What is BODMAS? BODMAS is a helpful acronym used to help children remember the order in which to perform mathematical operations.

The letters stand for the following:

  • Brackets: (     )
  • Order: an index/ power e.g. 4² means 4 x 4
  • Division: ÷
  • Multiplication: x
  • Addition: +
  • Subtraction:

BODMAS is helpful when confronted with mathematical questions which have many different operations to complete.  This is because it reminds us which order to complete the operations in, and keeping to this order is important to get the right answer.

BODMAS is sometimes called BIDMAS, where the ‘I’ stands for indices. This does not involve doing anything differently.

How should BODMAS be used?

If faced with a question like the following:

  • 4 + 3² x (8 – 4) = ?

then BODMAS informs us to complete what is in the brackets first. So we would calculate that:

  • (8 – 4) = 4.

It is helpful to rewrite the question at each stage so that you can see which operations are left to complete. The brackets can now be removed to give:

  • 4 + 3² x 4 = ?

Next, the orders need to be completed. Orders is just another word for indices, powers or square roots. So we need to work out:

This would be said as ‘3 to the power of 2’, and the small 2 just means that you multiply the given number two times, like so:

  • 3 x 3 = 9.

Now the question reads:

  • 4 + 9 x 4 = ?

BODMAS informs us to complete any division or multiplication next. Note that as division and multiplication are of the same level, you can simply complete them as they appear from left to right, without worrying about which comes first. So we calculate that:

  • 9 x 4 = 36. Rewriting the question so it reads: 4 + 36

Lastly, we need to complete the addition:

  • 4 + 36 = 40.

Just as we can do addition and subtraction from left to right as they appear, we can also do this with addition and subtraction when both are used in a question.

When will children be taught about BODMAS?

Teachers will introduce children to BODMAS and what it means around Years 5 and 6.

Example questions will be demonstrated by the teacher on the board and worked through as a class, before getting children to complete progressively harder questions on their own.

What do children sometimes struggle with?

To start with children might find it difficult to use BODMAS, as they instinctively want to complete operations as they appear from left to right. Therefore, it is important to ensure that they understand why sticking to the order of BODMAS is so important.

It can be helpful to demonstrate the problem of following a different order, for example:

  • 5 + 6 x 3 = ?
  • If the addition is completed first the answer would be: 5 + 6 x 3 = 11.
  • Whereas, if the multiplication is done first you would get a different answer: 5 + 6 x 3 = 23.
  • According to BODMAS, multiplication is completed before addition, so the second answer is correct.

How does Learning Street help children with BODMAS?

Learning Street introduces the concept of BODMAS to children, we then extend learning and will revise the rule.  Children will also find they become very familiar with this through use as we regularly feature questions where the BODMAS process has to be used in our courses.

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