You Can Do A Rubik’s Cube


I had always wondered if I could learn to do a Rubik’s Cube, then one Christmas I got one as a gift. I fooled around with it enough until I got the hang of working one face. One face isn’t that hard to do, in fact all it took for me was to realize it was do-able.  Then I found some directions online for the other layers of the cube and worked until I could understand them (a trick in itself) and finally I was able to work all the way through it and complete a whole cube. The directions I used were hard to follow, so I have combined several different versions to create these – which I hope are much more clear and easy to follow.

So once you’ve conquered doing one face (explained below), you’ll be ready to tackle the whole cube. Then, you can work on memorizing the moves and impress your friends! Heck, mine were impressed that I could do it while reading the instructions!  It was really funny though that a few weeks after conquering my cube, I saw Allen Hopper, one of my 10th grade world history students, standing out in the hallway messing around with a Rubik’s cube. I was so proud of myself as I started telling him that “I knew how to do it” (of course, to show him I would have to get my directions out–LOL). Then he proceeded to say, “Oh, yeah, they really are fun. I can do one pretty fast now.” He started working it this way and that way and within just minutes he had it all lined up! He said he’d figured it out on his own not long after he got it.

The current world record for single time on a 3×3×3 Rubik’s Cube was set by Feliks Zemdegs, who had a best time of 5.66 seconds at the Melbourne Winter Open 2011.

So, for the rest of us smaller brained mammals, here ya go:

In order to talk about the cube, we have to get a common language going so before you do anything, go through this introductory part and learn it. The rest will be much easier if you do that. 

Defining Terms and basic rules:

Rubik = the entire cube

cube or cubelet = an individual little cube

A capital letter signifies one turn clockwise of the particular face for which that letter stands. For instance, UB means turn theUpper face and then the Back face each in order, ¼ turn.

  • U – upper face of the Rubik
  • F – front face
  • R – right face
  • L – left face
  • D – down face (the bottom side)
  • B – back face   (note: B does NOT stand for “bottom” – don’t get that confused)

Keep your orientation (don’t change which color is up, which is down, which is facing you) unless you’re specifically told to do so.

The marking of an apostrophe ( ‘ )  means to turn counterclockwise.

B’ = turn the back face counterclockwise

BF’R = one clockwise turn on B, one counterclockwise turn on F,  then a clockwise turn on R.

 When a series of moves is in parenthesis and then followed by an x and a number, do the entire series the number of times indicated after the x.

(U’B) X 2   Means turn U counterclockwise then B clockwise and to do this series twice.


A marking of B² indicates two consecutive rotations of the face (the back face in this example), in other words a 180 degree turn.


More Examples:

R’ = turn R counterclockwise

L = turn L clockwise

U B’ R =  turn U clockwise, B counterclockwise, then R clockwise.

(U B’ R)x2   =   do that sequence two times in succession.

U² F²   = turn the U face 180° and then the F face 180°


An “edge” piece always refers to the piece on an edge that is not a corner.

Corner pieces are always called “corners.”

So there is, by this definition, only one edge piece along each side, or 4 edges per face. Got it?


Re-read before proceeding and practice on the examples.

There are six steps to doing the Rubik’s Cube:

Step 1– the first layer

step 2–the second (or middle) layer

steps 3, 4, 5, and 6—for the last layer (As you can see it gets more intricate as you go!)


********************ACTUAL INSTRUCTIONS BEGIN HERE************************




The Upper Face and the Top Row on all Four Sides


First, notice that the center square on each face is that face’s color. The center squares are non-moving. Everything else just rotates around them. So, the color of each face is determined by its center square. Now, pick a side to be the top and work on getting all the squares to match the color of the center square on that face. But also, this time as you work the face, pay attention to the other color on each cubelet (we’ll call it the “side color”), and place each cubelet where it’s side color matches the center-cube-color of the side you put it on. That way, when you’ve completed the top face, you will also have completed the top row of squares on all 4 of the sides of the Rubik. In other words, you will have completed not just the top face, but the entire top layer of cubelets.

Next:  Turn the Rubik upside down. The completed face/layer is now on the down or “D” side, making the Rubik’s bottom layer the completed one. Now we’re going to do the middle layer…



The Middle Layer Edges

Keeping the now completed side down (from here on it is the “D” side), turn the Rubik until you find a side with an incorrect color in the middle layer and on the right-side edge of that layer. Now find the cube that ought to be in that slot and see if it is in the top layer. If it isn’t, find another incorrect cubelet that meets these conditions. Now, hold the Rubik with the incorrect square in the FR position (facing toward you and on the right edge).

Next, look at the cube in the top layer that belongs in that position. It has two colors: one is the color on its side and one is the color facing up —

A.      If this cube has the face color up, then rotate U until that piece is in the LU position. Then apply:

L U        (U2 F2)x3       U’ L’ 

B.      If this cube has the side color up, then rotate U until that piece is in the BU position. Then apply:

B’ U       (R2 U2)x3      U’ B


As you work this layer, moving cubes from the top layer to the middle into their correct slot, you’ll find that cubes you need which are not in the top layer at first, will move into the top as you work the layer.

Repeat A or B until all middle layer pieces are in place.



Orienting the Edge Cubelets

(i.e., orienting means making the correct color of a cubelet face up)


A.  If the UB and UF edges are incorrectly oriented, then apply

B L U        L’ U’ B’

B.   If the UB and UL edges are incorrectly oriented, then apply

B U L        U’ L’ B’

 Apply until all U edge pieces have the right color facing up.


Positioning the Edge Cubelets into the right slots

Rotate U until either none or one edge is in place (if two are in place you must rotate U until none are in place):

[by “in place” we mean the side color of the cubelet matches the side it is on).

If one edge piece is in place, then turn the Rubik so that this is at the UL position. Now, if the incorrect cubes need to rotate clockwise, apply:

Edge Position sequence:       R2 D’      U2 R’     L F2 R      L’ D R2


If the incorrect cubes need to rotate counterclockwise,

Rotate the top layer (U)  180° and a different square will be correct now. Turn the whole Rubik so it is in the UL position, then apply the Edge Position sequence above.

If no edges are in place, apply Edge Position Sequence. One cubelet(and only one) should be correct now. Hold the Rubik so that cubelet is in the UL position and apply the sequence again.


Positioning the Corner Cubelets

If one corner is in the correct place (it does not matter yet if the colors are facing the right direction on the cube, just if it’s in the right slot): then the other three will need to cycle around the correct cube either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Hold the correctly positioned cube (if there is one) in the URF position and then apply this sequence

A.  To shift the incorrect cubes clockwise:    L’  UR  U’R’   L   RU   R’U’

 B.  To shift the incorrect cubes counterclockwise:  UR   U’R’   L’   RU   R’U’  L

If no corners are in the correct spots: hold the cube with any face toward you and apply sequence A. One cube should pop in place. Put it in URF position and apply sequence A again. Bingo!



Orienting the Corner Cubelets

Turn the Rubik until an incorrectly oriented cube is in the URF position. Now, memorize which color of the Rubik is facing you and keep this orientation throughout these moves. The whole Rubik will look like it is getting messed up  – do not panic. You must have faith! It will all right itself when you correct the last cube. (Sometimes things have to get way worse before they can be fixed, right?) Persevere. Believe in the directions you’ve been given.

Now follow this:

With an incorrect cube in the URF position, determine if it needs to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.

Clockwise spin:  (D’  F  D  F’)x2              Counterclockwise spin:   (F  D’  F’  D)x2

Next – without changing your orientation to the Rubik as a whole, rotate the top layer (U)  until the next incorrectly oriented cube is in URF. Apply the necessary sequence to rotate that cube and correct it. Keep turning U and correcting cubes until all are correct. As stated above, the Rubik gets messed up during this process, but it will correct itself with the final moves on the last cube.




Simplified instructions for printing out a “cheat sheet”:


First, do the top layer and turn the cube over
making that layer the “down” side from then on.

                              MIDDLE LAYER

   Exchanging FR with either UL or UB
If face color is up: UL position –

      L U        (U2 F2)*3       U’ L’

If face color is to the side:  UB position –

     B’ U       (R2 U2)*3      U’ B


                               TOP LAYER

Edges—   Orienting

To flip UL and UB :  BUL  then  U’L’B’

To flip UB and UF:   BLU  then  L’U’B’

                      Positions  (one correct edge in UL)

           R2 D’     U2 R’      L F2 R     L’ D R2


Positions  (hold correct cubelet in URF)

     clock:   L’  UR  U’R’    L   RU R’U’

     counterclock:   UR  U’R’   L’   RU   R’U’  L

Orienting (put cubelet in URF)

    Clockwise spin:  (D’  F  D  F’)*2

     Counterclockwise spin:   (F  D’  F’  D)*2