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Understanding BODMAS

Hands Up – Who Understands What BODMAS Means?

BODMAS is an important element in Maths and understanding it is essential if you are to succeed in your studies. Without it, GCSE Maths is completely out of bounds!

We thought it would be fun to find out what percentage of school children understand what BODMAS stands for and our survey graphs demonstrate this for different age groups. By the way, BODMAS is an acronym to help you remember Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.

If you want a full explanation of BODMAS along with a short video on the subject then pay a visit to our explanatory page.

Understanding the Acronym

To test whether children understood the BODMAS acronym we asked our survey respondents to choose from a list of 5 plausible explanations as follows:

  • Better Organise Diary Mother Asked Sweetly
  • Brackets Over Digits Multiply And Subtract
  • Boolean Ordinal Decimal Matrix Algebra Sequence
  • Binomial Operation Differential Monomial Algorithm Symmetry
  • Brackets Order Division Multiplication Addition Subtraction

We then counted the number of correct answers and the number of incorrect answers to produce the graphs.

Results for Children Less than 12

We wouldn’t expect primary school children to choose the correct answer but a good proportion did. BODMAS is not usually introduced until secondary school so either we have some very good guessers or big brothers and sisters helped out!

Results for Children Aged 12 to 17

The 12 to 14 year old group did reasonably well but it was the 15 to 17 year old group who impressed the most with only 14% of the survey participants choosing incorrect answers.

If you’re coming up to GCSEs and want some handy advice on preparing for the exams, check out our GCSE Exams Revising Tips article.

What Happened to the Adults?

It seems that after leaving school a large proportion of adults forget about BODMAS because their results show a retrograde step. Let’s hope that the 22% of adults who got it wrong are not responsible for building bridges or developing high speed trains!

Details of the Survey

The Internet survey was conducted between 19th January 2020 and 25th January 2020. A total of 1,546 children responded in the following groups:

  • 76 were aged 5 to 7
  • 308 were aged 8 to 11
  • 550 were aged 12 to 14
  • 269 were aged 15 to 17
  • 343 were aged 18 and over

Listing of Our Surveys on Many Different Subjects

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