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When solving equations or constructing formulas in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, you need to ensure that the equation or formula is solved in the correct order.  If the formula or equation is not solved in the correct order, you may find the result you get, is not the result you were looking for.

Worse still this can result in a miscalculation that may even cost you money, something that no business can afford in the competitive market our modern companies trade in.

I have found during the years I have taught Microsoft Excel that a large percentage of people do not understand how to solve long mathematical equations correctly.

This page is dedicated to helping people to learn the skills required to create and test formulas in a spreadsheet like Excel.

The rules are as follows.  Note: you can test these out in Excel by, SELECTING a blank cell, then PRESS = (equals) on the keyboard followed by the equation.  PRESS the Enter key on the keyboard or CLICK the OK button in Excel to accept your calculation (formula).

 
B Brackets
O Of
D Division
M Multiplication
A Addition
S Subtraction
       
B Brackets
E Exponent
M Multiplication & Division
A Addition & Subtraction
     
  B Brackets
  E Exponent
  D Division
  M Multiplication
  A Addition
  S Subtraction

 

  1. Parts of an equation enclosed in 'Brackets' must be solved first.  There are no exceptions to this rule.   For Example; (5 + 3) * 7 = 56, whereas 5 + 3 * 7 = 26.
        

  2. Any mathematical 'Of' or 'Exponent' as indicated by the acronym BEMA must be solved next.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  Most computer programs like Microsoft Excel do not have a mathematical 'Of', so you can ignore the 'Of'.     
        

  3. Next, the parts of the equation that contain 'Division' and 'Multiplication' are calculated.
    For example; 3 + 9 - 2 * 4 + 5 = 3 + 9 - 8 + 5
     
    Where division and multiplication follow one another, then regardless of their order that part of the equation is solved left to right.
    For example; 3 + 9 - 2 * 6  / 4 + 5 = 3 + 9 - 3 + 5
    The correct order is 2 * 6 = 12 then 12 / 4 = 3 even though 6 / 4 = 1.5 and 1.5 * 2 = 3.  You will find it very important to get this order correct when doing addition and subtraction.
        

  4. Last but not least, the parts of the equation that contain 'Addition' and 'Subtraction' should be calculated.
        
    As with division and multiplication, where addition and subtraction follow one and other, then regardless of their order that part of the equation is solved left to right.
    For example; 3 + 9 - 8 + 5 = 12 - 8 + 5, not 12 - 13.

    Note the difference as: 12 - 8 = 4, and 4 + 5 = 9, but 12 - 13 = -1
    A totally different answer.

Obey these simple rules, and your formulas in Excel will always calculate the correct answer, and you will be able check that your formulas are correct.

To go to the BODMAS exercises, click here.

 

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