BODMASBODMAS – one of my favourite topics to teach.

2 + 3 x 4

Does it equal 20 or does it equal 14?

We can’t have two answers to one question – that would cause all sorts of confusion!

So, back in the day, mathematicians got together and agreed to BODMAS – the order in which we do operations.

The B is for brackets – we do them first.

The O is the confusing one, it stands for “Order” which means squared, or cubed or to the power 7 etc: 52 is an example of an order, and means 5 squared, or 5×5 = 25.  Some people use the term Indices instead of Order and so talk of BIDMAS, not BODMAS, but it all means the same.

As we’re talking maths, you’ve probably guessed that the other letters stand for

D – Division

M – Multiply

A – Addition

S – Subtraction

So, going back to our question from above:

2 + 3 x 4

there are no brackets, orders or divisions, so the first thing we do is multiply

2 + 3 x 4 becomes …

2 + 12

So the correct answer is 14.

Remember – BODMAS tells us the order in which we do a sum.

If you want to practice BODMAS  you can find some questions on this worksheet.

Or you could print out and try this BODMAS puzzle.

Or you could try the interactive version of the same puzzle

Here are two great videos that help explain BODMAS.

Boys, in particular, seem to like this one:


… and a little warning, the tune from this one could end up being in your head all day long:

So now you know all about BODMAS, here’s a little puzzle for you to try. Can you arrange all of the digits  from 1 to 9 in each of empty boxes below? You can only use each number once. Remember the rules of BODMAS!


*** UPDATE The puzzle below is now available on pdf for you to download and print: BODMAS Worksheet and also as a ‘draggable’ puzzle for PC, iPad, Whiteboard or whatever: interactive draggable BODMAS puzzle ***
BODMAS puzzle

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  1. Gemma Graham
    Posted 03/09/2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Is it possible to use bodmas or bidmas and the numbers 2,3,4 & 5 to get 1
    as the answer?

    • A Maths Teacher
      Posted 06/09/2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      What a great question!

      There are probably many ways to do it, but here is one solution:

      (3-2) x (5 – 4) = 1

      Perhaps a Bodmas challenge question could be to find as many different ways to make 1 using 2,3,4 and 5.

      Thanks again for such a good question.

  2. Dale
    Posted 18/08/2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    What is the answer to the bod as puzzle

  3. Posted 18/10/2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Can you tell me the answer to Bodmas problem 69-4+9+15= is it 41 or 89

    • A Maths Teacher
      Posted 18/10/2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      The answer is 89.

      Once you are left with just add and subtract you work from left to right. So you do 69 take away 4 = 65. Then add 9 = 74, then add 15 to give 89.

      To get the answer 41 you would need to use brackets: 69 – (4 + 9 + 15). I appreciate that it can be a little confusing, but add and subtract could swop places in BODMAS, just as Divide and Multiply are interchangeable.

      • amber ostle
        Posted 09/02/2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        thats wrong 64 add 9 equals 73

        • A Maths Teacher
          Posted 09/02/2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          Thanks – good spot!

          At least someone reads my comments.

          I’ll correct it now.

          Thanks again.

          A maths teacher

  4. Elinor
    Posted 27/10/2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Bidmas Puzzle Help!!

    ?=Missing Num

    ? / ? + ? = 8
    x – x
    ? + ? + ? = 15
    – x +
    ? + ? + ? =12
    =38 =1 =61

    • A Maths Teacher
      Posted 27/10/2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Over the years I have had a number of requests for the answer to my BODMAS puzzle.

      I have been a little hesitant about publishing the answer as I do not want it to be too readily available to students.

      However, I think that it is time to acquiesce, so you can find the answer by clicking on the link below.

      To whoever is reading this, I hope that you have had a go at the puzzle first, but I figure that if you have persevered through reading the comments until now, you probably deserve to see what the answer is. So click on the link below, and all will be revealed!

      BODMAS Puzzle Answer

  5. jacob
    Posted 11/11/2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    please can you tell me the solution/answer?

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