Just recently my son started working with multi-step problems which means he had to use the order of operations. Needless to say he was struggling. He couldn’t remember the order of operations to save his life. Then I used the old saying my teacher always told me in school. “When working with order of operations, always remember, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

That is one math saying that always stuck with me and helped me out tremendously when I had to solve multi-step problems. Now that I have passed it on to my son, he doesn’t struggle with it anymore. That’s why I decided to pass it on in hopes it will help other people.

When working with multi-step problems you must use the order of operations or else you will end up with the wrong answer. That’s where the order of operations comes into play.

Step 1 – You must always do the problem in parentheses first.

Step 2 – Then do your exponents.

Step 3 – Next do your multiplication and division from left to right.

Step 4 – And last do addition and subtraction from left to right.

In order to remember those four steps, Just remember “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

Excuse = Exponents
My = Multiplication
Dear = Division
Sally = Subtraction

For example…

8 x ( 5 + 16 ) / 4 – 2 =

First do the parentheses.

8 x ( 5 + 16 ) / 4 – 2 =
21

Since there is no exponents we move to the multiplication.

8 x 21 / 4 – 2 =
168

Now we do division

168 / 4 – 2 =
42

Since there is no addition we move to subtraction.

42 – 2 =
40