If your student has completed a 6th grade math program and you’re looking for something more rigorous, the Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra and Introduction to Algebra could be a good fit. Be warned, though; AoPS unapologetically states: The text is written to challenge students at a much deeper level than a traditional middle school prealgebra course.
Developed by the mathematicians who created the Mandlebrot competition, AoPS takes math beyond the “plug and chug” method of memorizing formulas and then just crunching numbers with a calculator. Instead, students are taught how to solve problems – lots and lots of problems.
AoPS is extremely text-heavy, which could be a problem for kids who need visual supports to help them stay focused. Pages are packed with information, kind of like reading a word-for-word lecture that a teacher may give in class. The good part is that, if you can make it through all the reading, you probably won’t have many questions. It’s that thorough and well-explained.
Parents don’t have to be strong in math to be able to use this text with their kids – as long as you do the lessons together. The handy icon system helps you identify tricky concepts you might want to spend extra time covering. The Solutions Manual gives answers to every problem. It also includes an explanation for how to get the answer for many of the Review and Challenge problems.
Check out the Free Alcumus site, hosted by AoPS. Try some of the thousands of problems that supplement the Pre-algebra and Intro to Algebra text and you’ll get a feel for whether this program will be a good fit for your math loving kid.
Not sure what level you should start with? Visit the AoPS website’s Recommendation page and look for the Are You Ready? and Do You Need This? links to find placement tests for each textbook. If you’re still stuck, you can contact AoPS staff and they’ll help you decide.
Date of Review: 05/26/2015