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How necessary/valuable is AOPS pre-algebra?

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So if  a kiddo finishes BA and Singapore PM (and flew through Dragon box Algebra 12), should you really start with pre-alg, or just skip right on over to algebra? What are the pros and cons?

 

This is theoretical at this point, since we're not there yet. I was just curious because I went to order BA 5C-D today, and noticed that there was a little blurb about how, after BA, you'll be ready for pre-alg.

Edited by deanna1ynne

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Other people who have actually used AoPS for more than a few weeks will hopefully chime in here, but my take on this is that the books for Algebra I on up were already complete before they added the prealgebra book, so my guess is that their prealgebra is not necessary if the kid has a strong arithmetic background (which it sounds like your kid has).

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We finished through 5C and I have not seen the algebra book, only the pre algebra. It's a fantastic text and challenging. Is it possible to have a crush on a text book? Yes, I like it that much. It would be a shame to skip it. I'm sure someone else will be better able to chime in on whether it's necessary, but I cast my vote in favor of doing it.

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The pre-algebra book was not available when my boys would have used it.  They were fine jumping right into the AoPS Algebra book.  I did use the pre-algebra book for my daughter.  I think it is a great book and am glad I didn't skip it.

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Personally I wouldn't skip the Pre-Algebra book if you have an accelerated learner who has the time. Some of it a student will fly through but others (and I'm thinking particularly the chapter on ratios and rates) are extremely meaty and won't be seen again for a while unless the student does math contest prep. I also love the fact that there is quite a bit of geometry in it, something which is neglected in Beast Academy and most elementary curriculums.  

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IMHO, that book is probably the most pivotal among all of the AOPS texts when it comes to long-term success in mathematics. I would not skip it unless there were a serious threat of falling way behind schedule for graduation.

 

The Algebra text will be much easier afterwards - enough so that it will become a dependable single year course, even with all challenge problems included.

 

The Pre-A book is so solid that a student could do reasonably well on the SAT without any formal algebra courses. It's very hard, but honestly one of the best AOPS books out there.

Edited by Mike in SA
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The prealgebra book was not available when we needed it. So we did prealgebra with Saxon 8.7 (miserable!) and then went into AoPS intro to Algebra and loved it from the first moment. My kids were successful with AoPS and used it all the way through calculus.

So, I don't see the prealgebra book as a necessity; lots of students learned prealgebra from other sources before moving into AoPS just fine, simply because prealgebra was the last volume to be completed.

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I found pre-a to be harder for some reason! 

 

You can skip it in the sense there is nothing, that I can think of, covered in pre-a that isn't covered in a.

 

 

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The AoPS prealgebra book is a great book. For most kids, I think it would be a good step between Beast and Algebra. It's not entirely necessary, but I would recommend it. It's certainly possible to skip on to algebra and it works best with math talented kids.

 

My oldest (math geek) skipped the prealgebra book because it hadn't been published yet. I was actually going to do something else before starting that book with him, but he picked it up off the shelf and said it looked fun and could we do it.

 

My second did SM, AoPS Prealgebra, then onto Intro AoPS books and has moved on to Derek Owens for Precalc/Calc. He would have found it rough to skip to the Algebra book as it moves faster and deeper than the prealgebra book.

 

My third did Beast at the rate it was publlshed, did through SM 5, Derek Owens Prealgebra, and then did AoPS Prealgebra (while doing AoPS Geometry alongside it since she had learned the basic algebra skills). She struggles more with the arithmetic side of math and can do the logic fine, and thus multiple passes through prealgebra material.

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You can skip it in the sense there is nothing, that I can think of, covered in pre-a that isn't covered in a.

Chapter 10-15 of prealgebra was what made my geometry loving DS11 happy. We end up doing intro to geometry with intro to algebra concurrently. The topics are probably covered in Beast Academy but both my boys didn't like Beast Academy as a curriculum so we didn't buy after BA3. My DS11 would do only geometry if that was possible.

 

Prealgebra table of contents link

https://s3.amazonaws.com/aops-cdn.artofproblemsolving.com/products/prealgebra/toc.pdf

 

My oldest could have skip but since he was relatively young, I rather he go through prealgebra first. He enjoyed chapter 1-15 more too. He also did intro to number theory book and intermediate counting and probability book because just intro to algebra would bore him. Now he is nagging me to register for the intermediate number theory online class which doesn't have a textbook.

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IMHO, that book is probably the most pivotal among all of the AOPS texts when it comes to long-term success in mathematics. I would not skip it unless there were a serious threat of falling way behind schedule for graduation.

 

The Algebra text will be much easier afterwards - enough so that it will become a dependable single year course, even with all challenge problems included.

 

The Pre-A book is so solid that a student could do reasonably well on the SAT without any formal algebra courses. It's very hard, but honestly one of the best AOPS books out there.

I would agree here. The more I work with high school kids (and the more I hear stories from DD about the college students in class with her, who supposedly placed into college math) the more I realize just how glad I am that we did AoPS as a second PA year-because it is inevitably those PA skills that trip people up. I don't think AoPS is necessary, but I think strong PA skills are-and AoPS is one of the best ways to really, really get them.

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Great! That's really helpful and we won't skip it then. :) I'm so glad I asked! I shouldn't have said necessary, so much as valuable I guess. I wanted to know how much meat and worth it had, not necessarily if I can "get away" with skipping it.

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I will be headed this way next year, and I have no desire to rush to Calculus. I want to wrap up SM and BA. I don't have an exact timeline because I have seen the payoff running math circle with a local professor how important (and inspiring) meandering and marinating in problem solving can be. When my son first started math circle, it was a bit rough. Fast forward now 2 years later, he LOVES math circle. His tolerance for making mistakes (so important!), learning from the mistakes, and stamina in working on a single problem for an hour has grown so much. He even complained that we are missing the next one because we have a vacation planned saying that he would rather not go than miss math circle. There are actually two math circles in our area. The uber competitive, intense one that the AOPS people are associated with and our little noncompetitive homeschooling one w.

I've gathered AOPs pre-A, Zaccaro, Borac, LOF, Michael Serra's books (pirate math, smart moves, patty paper), Jacob's Human Endeavor, Descartes Cove, and a bunch of other stuff to dip in and out of as we move along. Sometimes, going quickly and other times going off on bunny trials. 

Edited by calbear
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I think my DS12 could have skipped Pre-A. I was really on the fence about it but got a lot of recommendations to not rush him etc etc. He had the stamina, in retrospect, to go straight to Algebra. I don't think he really learned anything in AOPS pre-A except in maybe one or two chapters. And at times he resented it, but I lacked confidence to just move him ahead. He can be a really compliant child, too, so he only complained when really discouraged. Sigh. At one point I did let him just do challenge problems. 

 

He did RightStart A-E with Singapore CWP, then did IP 5 and 6 on his own before moving to AOPS Pre-A along with Alcumus. He has stamina and focus and has had those since a toddler.

 

Emily

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I will be headed this way next year, and I have no desire to rush to Calculus. I want to wrap up SM and BA. I don't have an exact timeline because I have seen the payoff running math circle with a local professor how important (and inspiring) meandering and marinating in problem solving can be. When my son first started math circle, it was a bit rough. Fast forward now 2 years later, he LOVES math circle. His tolerance for making mistakes (so important!), learning from the mistakes, and stamina in working on a single problem for an hour has grown so much. He even complained that we are missing the next one because we have a vacation planned saying that he would rather not go than miss math circle. There are actually two math circles in our area. The uber competitive, intense one that the AOPS people are associated with and our little noncompetitive homeschooling one w.

I've gathered AOPs pre-A, Zaccaro, Borac, LOF, Michael Serra's books (pirate math, smart moves, patty paper), Jacob's Human Endeavor, Descartes Cove, and a bunch of other stuff to dip in and out of as we move along. Sometimes, going quickly and other times going off on bunny trials. 

 

I SO wish we had a math circle here (or even in our state...). I've toyed with the idea (multiple times) of trying to start one myself, but the info on http://mathcircles.org/Wiki_WhatIsAMathCircle makes it sound like it would either not be "right" (deep enough, enough new ideas, enough guest speakers, etc., since I don't have a *ton* of extra time...) or it would be pointless bc the kids are too young (the say it's best at middle school). I wish there were a simple "how to" that I could find. I like math and like teaching math and have a phd in it, even. But when I read about these great math circles that offer open problems to young kids in a tangible way, I feel a little unprepared to tackle something like that (four kids ages 7 and under...)

 

The local Uni has an annual outreach for high schoolers, and they have a math *teachers* circle, but that's kind of a lot on their plate already. I feel like there *must* be other kids around like mine, but just don't know how to find them! For now, it maybe doesn't matter, because my kids are just as happy to build with Legos or fingerpaint as they are to do math. But I think about the future and wish I could start something.

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Take a look at this book: https://www.amazon.com/Math-Three-Seven-Mathematical-Preschoolers/dp/082186873X

 

I started up a math circle here that's for kids from Pre-K through 6th grade. I'll be happy to share my experience with you over PM if you're interested in details. Berkeley and Chapel Hill both come to mind as math circles​ that have elementary sections and post some materials (like handouts) on their websites. There's another one I can't remember right now, but search for elementary math circles​ and you may be surprised at what you find!

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DS did a few chapters in AOPS pre-a and thought it was ok but he did not LOVE it like I had thought he would. We switched to Elements of Mathematics and he really preferred that. EoM includes topics he had not previously been exposed to instead of the same basic topics he had already seen in Singapore 5 & 6.

 

I will probably have him do some of the later AOPS books but the pre-a was not a good "fit".

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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1. In the AoPS sequence, AoPS pre-alg is after BA and before the other AoPS courses such as intro alg.

 

2. AoPS says if you just finished course X elsewhere, then you should "retake" course X at AoPS.

 

So, finishing BA, and having done some other pre-alg course, would suggest taking AoPS pre-alg next (unless there is strong evidence a kid can safely skip it).

 

 

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