What is BODMAS And BIDMAS: Explained For Primary School Parents With Practice Questions
BODMAS and BIDMAS crop up throughout primary school maths so here we cover what BODMAS and BIDMAS mean, and provide you with some BODMAS questions and exercises you can use to help your KS2 child practise accurately carrying out BODMAS calculations.
What is BODMAS?
The BODMAS rule is an acronym to help children remember the order of mathematical operations – the correct order in which to solve maths problems. Some children use it as a mnemonic (like Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain is used to remember colours).
Bodmas stands for Brackets, Orders, Division/Multiplication, Addition/Subtraction.
What is BIDMAS?
The BIDMAS rule is an alternative acronym to BODMAS to help remember the order of operations. The only difference is that there’s an I instead of O. The meaning is the same. Bidmas is the term more commonly used in primary schools today.
Bidmas stands for Brackets, Indices, Division/Multiplication, Addition/Subtraction.
“Mathematical operations” are what you do to the numbers given. The four main operations are:
- addition (+);
- subtraction (-);
- multiplication (x);
- and division (÷).
When presented with a number sentence containing more than one operation (such as 3 + 4 x 2) the operations cannot be completed from left to right, but instead in their order of “importance”, which is what BODMAS stands for.
BODMAS stands for:
“Orders” means square roots and indices (which you may know as square numbers, powers or exponents).
Here “Indices” (square numbers, powers or exponents) are used instead of Orders.
What does order of operations mean?
This is the order in which certain operations must be completed, from brackets first to addition and subtraction last.
It is important that division and multiplication are represented alongside each other as they are of equal importance (so must be completed from left to right, whichever appears first) – this is the same for addition and subtraction.
Below are some examples of BODMAS questions and answers children might see in schools. We’ve given you the right answer and at least one different answer to show you where children might go wrong.
BODMAS (BIDMAS) Questions and Answers
Question 1: 6 + 2 x 7
The correct answer is 20.
The multiplication must be completed first (2 x 7 = 14) and then the addition (6 + 14 = 20).
This may be commonly miscalculated as 56 by working from left to right (6 + 2 = 8, 8 x 7 = 56).
Question 2: 3 x (2 + 4) + 52
The correct answer is 43.
The BODMAS rule states we should calculate the Brackets first (2 + 4 = 6), then the Orders (52 = 25), then any Division or Multiplication (3 x 6 (the answer to the brackets) = 18), and finally any Addition or Subtraction (18 + 25 = 43).
Children can get the wrong answer of 35 by working from left to right.
Question 3: 5 – 2 + 6 ÷ 3
The correct answer is 5.
The division must be completed first (6 ÷ 3 = 2) which then leaves addition and subtraction; as both are of the same importance, we can then work from left to right. 5 – 2 + 2 (the answer to 6 ÷ 3) = 5.
This may be commonly miscalculated as either 3 by working from left to right, or as 1 by wrongly assuming that addition should be completed before subtraction.
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When will my child learn about BODMAS in primary school?
BODMAS is taught in upper KS2 and often primary school children won’t come across the order of operations until Year 6.
The national curriculum states that Year 6 pupils should be taught to use their knowledge of the order of operations to carry out calculations involving the four operations.
The non-statutory guidance advises that pupils explore the order of operations using brackets; for example, 2 + 1 x 3 = 5 and (2 + 1) x 3 = 9.
Other parent and child maths explainers
- Maths dictionary for kids and parents – all the terms you’ll need to know
- Fractions for kids – step by step instructions for parents and carers teaching their children at home
- Bus stop short division for kids – step by step for every year group
As a parent trying to support your child with order of operations questions you’ll find that most calculators and computers nowadays are sophisticated enough to complete calculations according to BODMAS. However it’s worth testing any calculator out just to be sure. There are also plenty of BODMAS calculators available online.
Practice KS2 BODMAS questions
1) 29 – 4 x 6 + 5 =
2) Write what the two missing numbers could be. (4 + ?) x ? = 100
Answer: 6 and 10 (4 + 6) x 10 = 100
3) Write the missing numbers to make these calculations correct.
a) 200 x ? – 200 = 200
b) (100 – ?) x 100 = 100
Answers: a) 2 b) 99
4) Write the correct sign >, < or = in each of the following
a) (10 + 5) – 9 [ ] (10 + 9) – 5
b) 3 x (4+5) [ ] (3 x 4) + 5
c) (10 x 4) / 2 [ ] 10 x (4 / 2)
a) (10 + 5) – 9 < (10 + 9) – 5
b) 3 x (4+5) > (3 x 4) + 5
c) (10 x 4) / 2 = 10 x (4 / 2)
Practice Year 6 BODMAS questions
Other tricky primary maths curriculum topics you may need help on
- What is a unit fraction?
- What is a number sentence?
- What is place value?
- What are number bonds?
- 2D and 3D Shapes explained for primary parents and kids
- What is long multiplication?
If you feel your child needs some extra support to understand BODMAS, the order of operations, or the other trickier aspects of the primary maths curriculum, Third Space Learning’s online maths lessons provide 1-to-1 support that’s personalised to children’s needs. Tutors develop confidence, and make lessons fun, matching the interests and previous maths experience of the child being taught.
Every week we support thousands of primary school children with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and, since 2013, our maths specialist tutors have been trusted by thousands of schools. During this period of home learning, we want to extend our support to parents looking to keep maths learning going at home. You can learn more about Third Space Learning at home here.