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# AoPS Introduction to Algebra Question

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Hi All,

We are embarking on our first real journey into AoPS this year after ds11 finished up TabletClass Pre-A a bit early. He is almost done with Chapter 1 which had been review for the most part except for fractional exponents. So far he likes how AoPS explains why things work as well as how. The question I have is where does the Algebra 1 portion (chapters 1-13) get especially difficult/challenging? I seem to recall reading about certain chapters or points along the way where a child feels like AoPS is just too hard, etc... And I just want to prepare for those a bit more in advance.

Currently ds11 is adjusting to the style of writing being a bit wordy and explaining each problem in detail. When I asked him last night if he watches the vidoes he said he doesn't really feel the need so far since the book explains things so well. I was kind of surprised since he has been so used to video instruction with his previous programs. So I guess a wordy math book does have its benefits. ;)

Thanks for any tips you can provide,

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I have used AoPS Intro to Algebra with two kids.

They did not have any trouble with the beginning of the book. We found that each of them had a period of making careless mistakes in chapter 2 material, when it came to simplifying expressions - expanding parentheses, paying attention to signs. This had nothing to do with AoPS being hard, but with the attention to detail the material requires, and was solved by supplementing with additional practice problems we wrote, using graph paper, using color for signs: patience and perseverane and increased maturity.

The chapters we found most difficult in the algebra 1 portion were the chapter on ratios (6) and proportions (7), especially chapter 7. With DS, who was 12, we skipped this chapter and returned to it a semester later, successfully.

Other than that, I would not say that any chapter is particularly hard; there are simply hard problems in every chapter. The single most involved problem I remember was the horrible linear optimization problem about farmer Fred deciding how to divide his acreage between corn and beans to maximize profit ;-)

Btw, we use the books without the videos, too. The book explains everything well.

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A lot of kids have trouble with the transition to AoPS - often with prealgebra skills of exponents, negative numbers, order of operations. Once you get used to the style of AoPS, I think it doesn't get markedly harder until much later in the book. The challenging problems and sections (marked with a star) are often more difficult, but it sounds like he's off to a great start.

I would consider adding Alcumus (the free online learning system). The videos may or may not be helpful at further explaining things - I think it is fine to not do the vidoes if he understands.

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My dd12 was going along pretty strong, but she was having trouble with the end of chapter problems in Chapter 6. I'm having her go back and "catch up" in Alcumus to where she is the book. And this is reminding me that maybe I should also have her watch the videos.

Although I think a big part of her problem is plain stubbornness that she doesn't want to write down what she knows in the word problems (assign variables and write out given relationships) and then figure out the relationships needed for the equation, she wants to just "know" the final equation and work it. :rolleyes:

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Dd slowed down from her usual pace in Chapter 7----the Challenge problems took longer than usual (In addition to all the section problems and exercises, I have her do all the review problems and half the challenge problems)----but then she resumed the original speed.

She would come across an individual section here-and-there that would take a bit more time but overall, AoPS algebra has been an appropriate difficulty level for dd.

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DS had problems with chapters 6 and 7 as well. We didn't need the videos. What I did was to have him solve whatever he could solve then write down the numbers/ page numbers of the ones he couldn't. We went ahead to chapter 8 and so on, but after every few pages, we went back to the ones he couldn't solve in chapters 6 and 7. The wait time probably helped him because he could solve a few the second time around. The ones he still can't solve we'll just review again when he finishes the book.

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DS had problems with chapters 6 and 7 as well. We didn't need the videos. What I did was to have him solve whatever he could solve then write down the numbers/ page numbers of the ones he couldn't. We went ahead to chapter 8 and so on, but after every few pages, we went back to the ones he couldn't solve in chapters 6 and 7. The wait time probably helped him because he could solve a few the second time around. The ones he still can't solve we'll just review again when he finishes the book.

Ha, when I flipped through the book earlier I found a sticky note on a page in Ch 7! Apparently we'll need to go back and do those four problems :D

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Thanks, guys. It really helps to hear from those who have been there already with their kids. Its sounds like a consensus that chapters 6 & 7 are the most challenging. So I will plan accordingly. ;)

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Yep , chapter 6 and 7 especially the last section of both the chapter made my DS cry about math the 1st time. He was fine for the sections before but the last sections (word problems) were just so hard. We didn't even attempt the challenge problems. I knew it will be a disaster.

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Chap 2 - when ds realized he couldn't do the book with half a brain on something else :p. Chap 8- but it could just be ds and his visual issues. AOPS has been great for exposing weaknesses and working on it.

Which are the similarly difficult chapters in the second half of the book?

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Which are the similarly difficult chapters in the second half of the book?

For both of my kids, there were really none. The hardest was maybe chapter 19 section 3, the more difficult compound interest problems.

(I believe we may have skipped quadratic optimization 15.4 with DS, can't remember)

I could imagine some students might find inverse functions, 16.4, conceptually difficult.

IMO, the second half of the book is rather straight forward. Some of the more difficult topics, such as polynomials, are only introduced, but not treated in depth; this is done in the Intermediate Algebra book.

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I concur with Regentrude---the second half is straightforward in its challenge :D Dd has faced isolated difficult problems.

And for those looking ahead to AoPS Geometry---she's up to ch 5 in the textbook for the online class (her first online class, her choice). She does all the section problems/exercises, all the review problems, and half(ish) of the challenge problems. For the class she has assigned Alcumus problems and a problem set. Several of the problem set problems are harder than anything in the book! She's had to work harder on these problems than any others she has ever tried. I think she has finally met an appropriate level of difficulty in this particular class (btw she loves the class).

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