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Math Lesson: Solving A Basic Problem

Updated on January 19, 2014

Step 1: Write Down the Problem

The most basic principle of math is the order of operations (more commonly known as PEMDAS). When I was in school they gave us a sentence for remembering the order. “Please excuse my dear aunt Sallie.”

Here is a step by step on how it works.

Remember:

  1. Bring your work down once you’ve finished a step or piece of the step
  2. In this example, the piece that needs to be worked is underlined
  3. Also in this example, what the underlined piece turns into is highlighted in red

Step 2: Parenthesis

Step 2: Parenthesis

No matter what operations this kind of problem requires, always do the parenthesis first. Once the inside of the parenthesis is mathematically combined, the parenthesis disappear and you will only have the answer. This is shown, highlighted in red, in the picture to the right. The only thing left from the parenthesis is the answer of six.

If there is more than one set of "Parenthesis", go from left to right and do the first set you come to, then the next and the next and so forth.

Step 3: Exponents

Step 3: Exponents

Exponents are always solved immediately after inside the parenthesis are solved.

If there is more than one piece with "Exponents", go from left to right and do the first one you come to, then the next and the next and so forth.

Step 4: Multiply or Divide

Step 4: Multiply or Divide

Just remember that this is where it may start to take multiple steps to work out the problem. Some problems have consecutive multiply and divide signs as in the problem to the right (6/3x7), and then you have another set further down the equation (0x4). The six has to be divided by the three ( to equal two) and the zero must be multiplied by the four (to equal zero). This will cause the two and the zero to be brought down. Then you simply repeat the multiply/divide step until all of the multiplication and division signs have been mathematically removed.

If there is more than one "Multiply or Divide" set duo, go from left to right and do the first set you come to, then the next and the next and so forth.

Step 5: Add or Subtract

Step 5: Add or Subtract

The rules for "Add or Subtract" are very similar to "Multiply or Divide". This is also where it will take multiple steps to work out the problem. If the problem has consecutive add and subtract signs as in the problem to the right, you simply go from left to right, adding or subtracting the first set (-5+14) then the next set (36+0). Then you bring those answers down and you simply repeat the "Add or Subtract" step until all of the signs have been mathematically removed.

As with the others, if there is more than one "Add or Subtract" set, go from left to right and do the first set you come to, then the next and the next and so forth.

© 2014 info-overload

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