Minds On

What comes first?

On a few social media platforms, a meme was becoming popular that was asking people to answer a “skill testing question.” It seemed that there were two answers that were the most popular.

This was the skill-testing question on social media:

8   ÷   2   ( 3   +   1 )

The two most popular answers were 1 or 16. Which one do you think is correct?



Order of operations is a set of rules. It tells you the order in which to make computations so that everyone gets the same value.

Here are the order of operations rules. Complete equations in this order:

B = Brackets; complete operations in any brackets.

E = Exponents; complete any powers.

DM = Division or Multiplication, in order, from left to right.

AS = Addition or Subtraction, in order, from left to right.

Use the acronym BEDMAS to remember.

The following example describes what happens if we compute an expression from left to right and if we follow the order of operation rules.

Calculate the following from left to right.

(8 + 36 − 4) ÷ 4 + 42

Then, calculate it using BEDMAS. What do you notice?

Now, calculate (9 + 25 − 22) ÷ (17 − 7) from left to right, then using BEDMAS. What do you notice?

Let’s use TVO Mathify to practice BEDMAS with word problems.

Press the ‘TVO Mathify' button to access this interactive whiteboard and the ‘Activity’ button for your note-taking document. You will need a TVO Mathify login to access this resource.

TVO Mathify (Opens in new window) Activity (Open PDF in a new window)


Finding the correct answer

Student #1 and Student #2 solved the following order of operations question. Who is correct? What are the errors that were made? Explain.

Student #1’s work:

20 ÷ 10 + 2 × 32 + 2

20 ÷ 10 + 2 × 9 + 2

2 + 2 × 9 + 2

2 + 18 + 2

20 + 2

= 22

Student #2’s work:

20 ÷ 10 + 2 × 32 + 2

2 + 2 × 32 + 2

4 × 32 + 2

4 × 9 + 2

36 + 2

= 38


As you read the following descriptions, select the one that best describes your current understanding of the learning in this activity. Press the corresponding button once you have made your choice.

I feel...

Now, expand on your ideas by recording your thoughts using a voice recorder, speech-to-text, or writing tool.

When you review your notes on this learning activity later, reflect on whether you would select a different description based on your further review of the material in this learning activity.

Press ‘Discover More’ to extend your skills.

Create a scenario with an equation that has brackets.

Show how removing the brackets will change the answer.

How important is it to use brackets?

Connect with a TVO Mathify tutor

Think of TVO Mathify as your own personalized math coach, here to support your learning at home. Press ‘TVO Mathify’ to connect with an Ontario Certified Teacher math tutor of your choice. You will need a TVO Mathify login to access this resource.

TVO Mathify (Opens in new window)