Performing Operations in the Proper Sequence on the GED Mathematical Reasoning Test: PEMDAS

By Murray Shukyn, Achim K. Krull

Part of GED Mathematical Reasoning Test For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When solving an equation that contains more than one mathematical operator on the GED, you must perform the operations in the correct sequence to arrive at the correct answer. For example, 54 +10 ÷ 2 can produce two different answers. If you add 54 and 10 and then divide by 2, you get 32. If you divide 10 by 2 first and then add 54, you get 59. Perform operations in the following sequence, known as PEMDAS:

Parentheses: Perform all operations enclosed in parentheses first.

Exponents: If an equation contains any exponents, such as, perform those operations next.

Multiplication: Do all multiplications next.

Division: Perform all division, including fractions, next.

Addition: Determine all sums next.

Subtraction: Finally, carry out all subtraction operations.

Some people use the mnemonic expression “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” to remember the proper order of operations. As long as everyone on earth does the operations in the same order, we should all get the same answer.